We Need to Talk About the Real Star of ‘Wonka’

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wonka calah lane 1
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

It's only been a few hours since we watched the new Wonka, but we've already shared our (largely unsolicited) opinions with anyone who will listen. As intrigued as we were to see Timothée Chalamet channel his quirky side as the young Willy Wonka—complete with a magical top hat, a giant chocolate suitcase and an even bigger sweet tooth—there's one particular actress that we can't stop talking about, and that's Calah Lane.

wonka calah lane
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The 14-year-old star, who you probably recognize from This Is Us and Netflix's Family Reunion, plays Willy's trusted sidekick, Noodle, in the fantasy film, which serves as a prequel to the 1971 classic. Noodle is introduced as a clever young orphan who teams up with Willy to help him revolutionize the chocolate industry. However, throughout the film, she steals practically every scene with her incredible, expressive performance.

We won't reveal any major spoilers, but we will say that Noodle's backstory is just as fascinating as Willy's, and this has a lot to do with Lane's authentic portrayal of the hopeful orphan. Whether Noodle is joining Willy for a random adventure or washing loads of dirty laundry for Mrs. Scrubitt (Olivia Colman), Lane does an excellent job of conveying her character's fluctuating emotions as she navigates these situations, from anger, sadness and bewilderment to curiosity and optimism. Plus, her eagerness to help Willy, from teaching him how to read to spearheading escape plans, makes her character all the more likeable.

Most of all, though, we appreciate that she didn't fall into the familiar pattern of just being the token sidekick. She's a loyal and supportive friend to Willy, but we also see that she's a smart, resilient girl with a mind (and dreams) of her own. Lane plays the character with such captivating charm that you can't help but root for her in every moment.

FYI, if you've yet to see Lane's standout performance, be sure to get your tickets to see Wonka, now playing in theaters.

nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...