Among the plethora of Harry Potter fan theories over the last 20-odd years, one that sticks out involves George Weasley eventually becoming the eclectic candy and toy factory owner Willy Wonka. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) graced the big screen 50 years ago, with the bizarre persona of the factory owner making several major reappearances in pop culture over the years. One of the most interesting aspects of Wonka’s character is the mystery of his background, which has only been slightly – and possibly non canonically – explored in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). Through the Harry Potter theory and the upcoming Timothee Chalamet Wonka film, more pieces of the Wonka puzzle are coming together.
Though the Weasley twins were featured in each Harry Potter film and novel, not much is known about them after the events of the Battle of Hogwarts. Fred and George, two of Ron Weasley’s five older brothers, were known in the wizarding world for their jokes, experimentations, and pranking. After leaving Hogwarts, the twins opened up a successful prank shop in Diagon Alley where their gifts could shine. Unfortunately, Fred was killed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ climactic battle between Hogwarts and Voldemort’s Death Eaters.
The theory about George Weasley (Oliver Phelps) turning into Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) stems from the pair’s physical similarities, background in creative inventions, pranking nature, and the products made and targeted to youngsters. Wonka could well be a future red-headed version of Weasley simply donning a top hat and purple suit. Not only do they share similar hair and faces, but Wonka also mentions being a little deaf in one ear, perhaps caused by George losing an ear in The Deathly Hallows. Also, George and Fred’s Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes shop is essentially the wizarding world version of Wonka Factory. The three-course-meal gum that Violet Beauregarde eats could easily be found at Weasleys’ and the Puking Pasties fit in well as a Wonka creation. Wonka’s products are so far from ordinary technological innovation that they could only be explained by one thing: magic.
Physical similarities and products aside, George becoming the eponymous Willy Wonka isn’t far-fetched when considering the end of George’s Harry Potter series arc. The theory suggests that Wonka’s madness is explained by George’s inability to deal with his brother’s death, and after Deathly Hallows leaves the magic world (though uses magic to help with his wonderful creations) to take on a new persona and give his gift of candies and toy-like creations to muggle children around the world. Wonka may have been the identity George adopted to avoid returning to the wizarding world and face magical life without his twin brother, with his ensuing peculiarity and reclusiveness caused by mourning and unsuccessful attempts to blend into muggle life.
George abandoning the wizarding world likely means he doesn’t return, and opening up his gifts to muggles may have been a way for him to honor his father. Arthur Weasley was extremely fascinated by muggles, so the chocolate factory was perhaps George’s attempt at keeping a connection to his family’s values. Leaving the magical world behind wouldn’t be an easy transition, so George also would have needed to bring some relics along, possibly in the form of house-elves – AKA Oompa Loompas. Wonka gives a different backstory about finding and hiring the Oompa Loompas, though George would have needed a cover story and disguises so as not to obviously reveal the different species of the wizarding world. Though the new Wonka film will give an incredible story to the origin of the chocolate factory owner, there’s no reason why the Harry Potter connection can’t also be true in a separate universe.