An actor with dwarfism has said that people with the condition feel they “are being pushed out” of the film industry and criticised the casting of Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa in the upcoming movie “Wonka”.

George Coppen, whose film credits include “The School for Good and Evil” and “Willow”, told the BBC that he believes an actor with dwarfism should have been cast in the role. People with dwarfism were previously cast in the 1971 and 2005 film adaptations of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. 

In a trailer for the Warner Bros. film directed by Paul King, Grant is introduced to audiences as a “green-haired and orange-faced character” trapped in a glass jar, speaking to Willy Wonka, played by Timothée Chalamet, said the BBC. Coppen said his first impression of Grant’s character was: “They’ve enlarged his head so his head looks bigger. [I thought] what the hell have you done to him?” 

Mark Povinelli, an actor and president of the organisation Little People of America, told The Times he was “flabbergasted” by the trailer. He criticised the filmmakers for “reviving” Dahl’s Oompa-Loompa character, a role he said “has perpetuated stereotypes about dwarfism” – and said that the situation had been made “even worse” because “they’re shrinking down an average size actor to play this mocking role”.

Dr Erin Pritchard, a senior lecturer in disability and education at Liverpool Hope University, told the newspaper “she would prefer there were no parts for people with dwarfism than for continued ‘bad representation’”. 

Coppen told the BBC: “A lot of people, myself included, argue that dwarfs should be offered everyday roles in dramas and soaps, but we aren’t getting offered those roles.” He added: “One door is being closed but they have forgotten to open the next one.” 

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month, King said that he cast Grant in the Oompa-Loompa role “because he’s the funniest, most sarcastic shit I’ve ever met”.