Making of the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory


Oompa-Loompa, Oompa-Loompa, Oompa-Loompa, Loompa, Loompa… Deep Roy plays the Oompa-Loompas. I had worked with um Deep Roy a couple of times and I just find him to be a very compelling-looking, interesting person. I came here and walked into the rehearsing room and there was Deep Roy and I was going, “And the rest of them?”. Tim decided, right at a very early stage, there was only going to be one person cast as an Oompa-Loompa… …and then any Oompa-Loompa would be almost an exact clone of Deep Roy. There would be no women or children, there would just be a tribe of Deep Roys. Well, the Oompa-Loompas are obviously important to the story and… …I just felt that part of the real quality is important so I just- I liked the idea, though, that they all looked the same. It was a cool idea. Took me by surprise. I was under the impression that I was gonna be all the other Oompa-Loompas. Deep Roy had to endure torment and torture. Going through all the dance routines, it is work at him. He had to uh, well, just have the longest, longest days with so many different disciplines thrown at him. Deep has never worked in this way. Even though I can’t move, for this movie I had to learn… …how to sing and dance. We came and rehearsed him for about three months before he started shooting… …and teaching him things that he’d never really done before, you know. It’s hard, it’s really hard but you’ll get used to it. Little Deep is doing an amazing job. I think he had the hardest job on the movie, really. He had to train as a mountaineer. He had to learn to cut hair. Play maracas, play bongos. Doing pilates in the morning. Dive onto boxes like a stuntman. There’s so many different types of dance and instruments. We were playing the gamelan. He plays five parts in a rock band. Teaching him keyboards, playing the lead guitar, playing the base guitar, the drum kit. I choreograph it with Deep and we show it to Tim. Up the pipe, alright. See, you hear that? I’ll get it correct next time. I knew I could dance but I never knew that I could… …do the steps. It’s fun when we’ve got dancers in to dance with Deep to be all his other selves or to be some of his other selves, that’s quite fun ’cause it’s nice for him to be in a kind of gang of people. I think it’ll go nicely with the horrible squirrel attack. *laughter* Augustus Gloop, Augustus Gloop, the great, big, greedy nincompoop. Yes! Augustus Gloop, so big and vile, so greedy, foul, and infantile. Yes! Pretty bad singer. I surprised myself, I thought. I can’t hold a tune even. I’ve been teaching him percussion… …and Francesca has been looking at the movement for the percussion… …’cause he’ll be doing a bit of drumming in it. And he’s got really good, actually. Jane worked on different rhythms and we came up with “Oompa-Loompa, Oompa-Loompa”. Oompa-Loompa. Just visualising the fact that we may be working in this room with one person… …but actually trying to see loads of him. That’s the hardest thing. It didn’t seem a problem to begin with that there was only one character, it was only when we began to realise the scale of the dances. Shooting Deep Roy on overscale set pieces, doing multiple motion-control passes on him to replicate him… …and to put him into, you know, the shots in numerous different positions. So you can imagine it’s an organisational headache. And replicating him numerous times, i mean, in some plates, I think, we have 56 or 57 repeat passes of Deep Roy, in order to make up that one shot. So you can imagine how shoot-intensive this all was. He, you know, he had a lot of work to do, I mean, ’cause he literally did- you know, every time you see him he did it, he did that. Deep, just go to your right a little bit more. Good. And, for example If we had a shot that had a dozen Deeps in it and it was a tracking movement we would take that piece of the song… …and then Deep would play each individual character on each spot, one after the other. However, we would then have to go between each take and check to make sure he was in-sync and in-sync with the movements of the last take, so we not only had the problems of lip-sync but we also had the problems of physical movement synchronisation. So, it was a huge undertaking and, as I said, would often involve doing sixty seventy takes per pass. It was hard work, yes. You know you tape one, it is two, three, ten, twelve, thirteen but it was cool. When we started to talk to Tim about the project, um, we knew that we could use digital compositing to put… …the real Oompas into the boat, but it would be a tremendous advantage if we were able to make small animatronic Oompas at the right size. In building the animatronics we would build something at true Oompa-scale which was thirty inches high… …and that would allow us to shoot directly with real actors. The amount of power it would take to convert energy in matter would be like nine atomic bombs. Mumbler! Seriously, I can not understand a single word you’re saying. Now these are the 54 Oompa-Loompas that we made for the boat, they’re the rowing Oompas. They have little mechanisms inside them that allow them to be drawn forward and backwards by the motion of the oars. This guy we created just as a half puppet. His jaw will sort of move side to side and in and out which allows us to chew. And we watched Deep, uh, when he did this and we sort of looked really close at the kind of expressions he pulls and tried to emulate them. Trying to get all of those things so that you- We cut between the animatronics and we cut between the real Deep Roy… …that you wouldn’t, hopefully, see a jolt and if those things were right then the audience would enjoy it. It’d just be more interesting in the storytelling rather than the effects. How do you make an Oompa-Loompa? That was one of our… …major tasks and each of the songs for us was just a vast undertaking and I hope people get a huge amount of enjoyment out of them. I never had a singing or a dancing experience before. It was neat, you know, I’ll do it all over again, yes. Without a doubt, yeah. We tried to take it to a different level. Having as much reality on the set as we could. To me, Deep Roy was an Oompa-Loompa- is an Oompa-Loompa. Aren’t they delightful? Aren’t they charming?

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