The Wonka Experience actor who played Willy Wonka says his script was AI ‘gibberish’

This week’s breath of levity has been the whole Willy Wonka Experience gone wrong. To recap, an event in Whiteinch, Glasgow called “Willy’s Chocolate Experience” was marketed to families as an “immersive experience” into the world of Willy Wonka. Pictures and advertisements promised attendees that they’d view paradise. Except, it was all a scam. They were promised paradise but ended up being the Kidz Bop version of Fyre Fest. The venue was basically an empty warehouse with some low budget decorations and dejected-looking performers. But worst of all, there was NO chocolate!

BBC Radio did an interview with Paul Connell, the actor who played Willy Wonka. During the interview, he explained that the experience on the backend wasn’t very pleasant either. The production company who organized the event, House of Illuminati, hired the actors merely a few days beforehand, gave them a script of AI-generated “gibberish,” and basically left them up to their own devices to improvise the rest.

Mr Connell, originally from Hull, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It was very disappointing to see how many people turned up at this event and found basically me dressed up as Willy Wonka in a half-abandoned warehouse. It was not what I was expecting. I was offered the part on the Thursday, given 15 pages of AI generated gibberish to learn and then obviously turned up and saw what it was.”

Mr Connell said he and other actors were unsure if they would be paid, but still wanted to provide the best experience for the children. He added: “The actors were furious, we’d been conned as well and it did turn quite scary at one point because people were angry. There was lots of shouting and groups of people getting very, very irate.”

Mr Connell said despite the circumstances, the performers received good feedback online for trying their best to “make the best out of a bad situation”.

He said he spoke to the organisers during the event, but had not been in contact with them since.

“I asked them what they wanted me to do as a performer and they just kept saying, ‘do whatever you want’. Every conversation I had with them was them running around very stressed, very panicked throughout the day.”

House of Illuminati, said in a post on Facebook it was “truly sorry” and had been let down in “many areas” and tried their best to continue. It said it would be giving a full refund to anyone who bought a ticket. It added in a later post: “This was an event gone wrong. The House of Illuminati will not be holding any other event in the foreseeable future.”

[From BBC]

OMG, just imagine the level of “WTF did I get myself into?” that those actors must have experienced at that moment. Between the AI-generated ads and script, the horrible decorations, and the lack of direction for the performers, this was the laziest attempt at a grift ever. At least Paul had a good balance of empathy and humor about the whole ordeal. In a charming interview with Australia’s The Project, Paul describes the AI-generated gibberish in more detail, including the inclusion of an “evil chocolate maker who lives in the walls” called the Unknown. The actor playing this part wore a black cloak and a scary mask and would just randomly jump out and scare kids for no reason. The whole thing is just wild. (Note: His description and a video of this Unknown character starts at 1:14. It’s amazing.)

Oh, and for those who have a vested interest in the sad Oompa Loompa from that viral picture or need to know more about the whole “two jellybeans and a half cup of lemonade” thing, the actress from the photo, Kirsty Paterson, told Vulture the backstory:

In the exact moment of the photo, they’d told us to abandon the script. They had this “Jellybean Room,” but they eventually ran out of jelly beans. I was already rationing the jelly beans to three per kid, and that was me being generous. I wanted to give the kids all the candy. So we had no jelly beans, and people were coming up to me. It was just humiliating. I was starting to get angry. The other Oompa Loompa came over at this point and I went, “Where is everyone?! Why am I left here on my own?! Where is everyone else?!” You know how they talk about “me contemplating my life”? This is me contemplating my life.

Well, as terrible as the whole ordeal must have been at the time, at least actors like Paul and Kirsty are getting their 15 minutes of fame and a chance for more exposure. And Kirsty will forever live in the zeitgeist of Internet memes! One day, AI will be generating that sad Oompa Loompa picture whenever someone asks it to pull up an image of the personification of “FML.”

Note by CB: The Oompa Loompa Girls are doing fine! Here’s a link to the sad Oompa Loompa Kirsty Paterson’s TikTok. She’s also met up with Paul Connell! Here’s a link to his TikTok.

Photos credit: Jennifer Fogarty and Kirsty Paterson via Instagram and via Twitter

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8 Responses to “The Wonka Experience actor who played Willy Wonka says his script was AI ‘gibberish’”

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  1. Flamingo says:

    This is why Disney is so serious about their IP and will legally go after people (Hello Times Square characters) that steal their work. They watch everything that is going on.

    WB get on it, and make sure this does not happen again.

  2. Macky says:

    1. Yes it looks cheap but I like his outfit.
    2. The actors just may parlay this into a real career. Lol. I notice the English/Scottish can really make a career out of the tiniest things.

  3. Jason says:

    That interview was GOLD. SO HILARIOUS 😂

    • Blithe says:

      Yes! OMG, I am crying — I’m laughing so hard!
      This interview is going in my Save files for when I need a brighter perspective. I hope
      Paul Connell and the other actors involved can use this experience as a bounce to better fortune and fame. I’m still wiping tears here! Lol

    • ED says:

      Abreed – absolute gold.
      The Project is one of the best ‘news/ current affairs/ comedy’ shows we have on commercial t.v in Australia.
      The presenters always manage to have a laugh and see the funny side of things and that Scottish actor was such a natural at being interviewed.
      The Scottish sense of humour is always so self-deprecating and yet matter-of-fact, I always find it endearing.

  4. tealily says:

    “House of Illuminati” omfg, sounds about right.

    • McGee says:

      That “production company” name is clearly hinting it’s a bunch of young guys who had a hustle and hyped each other up into believing they weren’t incompetent fools looking for a quick payday.

      I’ll be shocked if they make good on their refund claim. They’re trying to outdistance earned consequences.

  5. Fifee says:

    This story has grown legs and ran with it! I can’t believe the actual amount of news lines thats been written. The guy who is the person behind this mob is a total con, publishing ‘books’ written by AI and other scams. He’s a total loon!

    This isn’t the first time Glasgow has had a similar problem with events. There’s an event at Christmas, Elfingrove, and each year it seems something goes wrong. It’s different company at the head but same issues – one rag even called it a complete sh**show the first year I think it was run. My lovely hometown certainly brings out the fraudsters.