A while back, based on the preview for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," I wrote that Johnny Depp seems to have based his Willie Wonka on Michael Jackson.
In fact, try Googling "michael jackson" "willie wonka" -- my post comes up #1! Jeez, maybe Johnny's read my post.... Hi, Johnny!
Anyway, today I actually saw the movie, and my final take on it is that Johnny Depp did not base his character on Michael Jackson. The hair and makeup may have been modeled to some degree on Jackson, but the voice was not at all like his. Jackson's voice is much higher and has a sweet, ethereal quality. The two voices I heard, intermittently, in Depp's characterization were Tommy Smothers and Carol Channing. There was a certain light slurring -- especially saying the word "little" -- that seemed both childish and a bit tipsy. Depp's Wonka is clearly cracked, but he's not abstracted and frail like Jackson. He's weird and confused, but still much more grounded than poor Michael. Depp had a ton of comical and psychological ideas that he deploys in this film. To have imitated Michael Jackson would have been a one-dimensional stunt. Why would this brilliant, brilliant actor do that? The answer is: he didn't!
By the way, the some of the best scenes don't have Depp in them at all. Charlie's house and family, with the four grandparents in one bed, made for some of the nicest scenes. Am I the only one who looked at the grandparents and thought of Hamm and Nagg in "Endgame"? And I adore Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Charlie's mother. There's the beautiful Helena, wearing grimy poverty-teeth for this role. And Freddie Highmore as Charlie is just perfect. Perhaps he is the greatest child actor of all time.
But the greatest actor of our time... that's Johnny Depp!