Helena Bonham Carter

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Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter 2011 AA.jpg
Bonham Carter at the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011
Born(1966-05-26) 26 May 1966 (age 48)
Golders Green, London, England
Partner(s)Tim Burton (2001–present)
ParentsRaymond Bonham Carter (father)
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In this name, the family name is Bonham Carter, not Carter.
Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter 2011 AA.jpg
Bonham Carter at the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011
Born(1966-05-26) 26 May 1966 (age 48)
Golders Green, London, England
Partner(s)Tim Burton (2001–present)
ParentsRaymond Bonham Carter (father)

Helena Bonham Carter, CBE (born 26 May 1966) is an English actress. She made her acting debut in a television adaptation of K. M. Peyton's A Pattern of Roses before her debut film role as the titular character in Lady Jane. She is known for her roles in films, such as A Room with a View, Fight Club, The King's Speech, and playing Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series. She frequently collaborates with her domestic partner, director Tim Burton, in films Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows. In 2012, she played Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, and Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables.

A two-time Academy Award nominee for her performances as Kate Croy in The Wings of the Dove and as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in The King's Speech, Bonham Carter's acting has been further recognised with seven Golden Globe nominations, an International Emmy Award for best actress, three Primetime Emmy Award nominations, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year honours list for services to drama,[1][2] and received the honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 22 February 2012.[3]

In January 2014, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that Bonham Carter had been appointed to Britain's new national Holocaust Commission.[4]

Early life[edit]

Bonham Carter was born in Golders Green , London. Her mother, Elena (née Propper de Callejón), is a psychotherapist who is mainly of Jewish background.[5][6] Her father, Raymond Bonham Carter, who came from a prominent British political family, was a merchant banker and served as the alternative British director representing the Bank of England at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. during the 1960s[5][7][8] (see also family background).

Bonham Carter has two brothers, Edward and Thomas. She was educated at South Hampstead High School, and completed her A-levels at Westminster School. Bonham Carter was denied admission to King's College, Cambridge, not because of her academic performance, but because college officials were afraid that she would leave during the course to pursue her acting career.[9]

When Bonham Carter was five, her mother had a serious nervous breakdown, from which it took her three years to recover. Upon her recovery, her experience in therapy led her to become a psychotherapist herself – Bonham Carter now pays her to read her scripts and deliver her opinion of the characters' psychological motivations.[10] Five years after her mother's recovery, her father was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma. He suffered complications during an operation to remove the tumour which led to a stroke that left him half-paralysed and using a wheelchair.[11] With her two older brothers at college, Bonham Carter was left to help her mother cope. She would later study her father's movements and mannerisms for her role in The Theory of Flight.[12] He died in January 2004.


A man and woman standing side by side
Bonham Carter and Colin Firth in the 2010 film The King's Speech

Early career[edit]

Bonham Carter, who has no formal acting training,[13] entered the field winning a national writing contest (1979) and used the money to pay for her entry into the actors' Spotlight directory. She made her professional acting début at the age of 16 in a television commercial. She also had a part in a minor TV film, A Pattern of Roses.

Her first lead film role was as Lady Jane Grey in Lady Jane (1986), which was given mixed reviews by critics. Her breakthrough role was Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View, which was filmed after Lady Jane, but released beforehand. Bonham Carter also appeared in episodes of Miami Vice as Don Johnson's love interest during the 1986–87 season and then, in 1987 opposite Dirk Bogarde in The Vision and Stewart Granger in A Hazard of Hearts. Bonham Carter was originally cast in the role of Bess McNeill in Breaking the Waves, but backed out during production due to "the character's painful psychic and physical exposure," according to Roger Ebert.[14] The role went to Emily Watson, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance.[15]

In 1994, Bonham Carter appeared in a dream sequence during the second season of the British comedy series Absolutely Fabulous, playing Edina Monsoon's daughter Saffron, who was normally played by Julia Sawalha. Throughout the series, references were made to Saffron's resemblance to Bonham Carter.

Her early films led to her being typecast as a "corset queen," and "English rose," playing pre- and early 20th century characters, particularly in Merchant-Ivory films. She played Olivia in Trevor Nunn's film version of Twelfth Night in 1996. One of the high points of her early career was her performance as the scheming Kate Croy in the 1997 film adaption of Wings of the Dove which was highly acclaimed internationally and netted her first Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. She has since expanded her range,[13] with her more recent films being Fight Club, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and partner Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Big Fish, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Alice in Wonderland.

Later career[edit]

Helena Bonham Carter at 26th Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2011

Bonham Carter speaks French fluently, starring in a 1996 French film Portraits chinois. In August 2001, she was featured in Maxim. She played her second Queen of England when she was cast as Anne Boleyn in the ITV1 mini-series Henry VIII; however her role was restricted, as she was pregnant with her first child at the time of filming.[16] Bonham Carter was a member of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival jury that unanimously selected The Wind That Shakes the Barley as best film.[17]

In May 2006, Bonham Carter launched her own fashion line, "The Pantaloonies," with swimwear designer Samantha Sage. Their first collection, called Bloomin' Bloomers, is a Victorian style selection of camisoles, mob caps and bloomers. The duo are now working on Pantaloonies customised jeans, which Bonham Carter describes as "a kind of scrapbook on the bum."[18]

Bonham Carter played Bellatrix Lestrange in the final four Harry Potter films (2007-2011). While filming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, she accidentally ruptured the eardrum of Matthew Lewis (playing Neville Longbottom) when she stuck her wand in his ear.[19] Bonham Carter received positive reviews as Lestrange, described as a "shining but underused talent".[20][21] She played Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd's (Johnny Depp) amorous accomplice in the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.[22] Directed by Tim Burton, Bonham Carter received a nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her performance. She won the Best Actress award in the 2007 Evening Standard British Film Awards for her performances in Sweeney Todd and Conversations With Other Women, along with another Best Actress award at the 2009 Empire Awards. Bonham Carter also appeared in the fourth Terminator film entitled Terminator Salvation, playing a small but pivotal role.[23]

Bonham Carter joined the cast of Tim Burton's 2010 film, Alice in Wonderland as The Red Queen.[24] She appears alongside Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Crispin Glover. Her role was an amalgamation of The Queen of Hearts and The Red Queen.[25][26][27] In early 2009, Bonham Carter was named one of The Times newspaper's top 10 British Actresses of all time. She appeared on the list with fellow actresses Julie Andrews, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Audrey Hepburn.[28]

In 2010, Bonham Carter played Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in the film The King's Speech. As of January 2011, she had received numerous plaudits for her performance, including nominations for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[29][30] She won her first BAFTA Award, but lost the Academy Award to Melissa Leo for The Fighter.

Bonham Carter signed to play author Enid Blyton in the BBC Four television biopic, Enid. It was the first depiction of Blyton's life on the screen, and Bonham Carter starred with Matthew Macfadyen and Denis Lawson.[31] She received her first Television BAFTA Nomination for Best Actress, for Enid. In 2010, she starred with Freddie Highmore in the Nigel Slater biopic Toast, which was filmed in the West Midlands[32] and received a gala at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival.[33][34] She received the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year from BAFTA LA in November 2011.[35]

In 2012, Bonham Carter appeared as Miss Havisham in Mike Newell's adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations.[36] In April 2012, she appeared in Rufus Wainwright's music video for his single "Out of the Game," featured on the album of the same name.[37] Bonham Carter co-starred in a film adaptation of the musical Les Misérables, released in 2012. She played the role of Madame Thénardier.[38]

On 17 May 2012, it was announced that Bonham Carter will be appearing in an adaptation of Reif Larsen's book The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, entitled The Young and Prodigious Spivet.[39] Her casting was announced alongside that of Kathy Bates, Kyle Catlett and Callum Keith Rennie, with Jean-Pierre Jeunet directing.[40] She also appeared in a short film directed by Roman Polanski for the clothing brand Prada. The short was entitled A Therapy and she appeared as a therapy patient to Ben Kingsley's therapist.[41] She will play the Fairy Godmother in a live-action re-imagining of Walt Disney's Cinderella.[42]

In 2013, she played Red Harrington, a peg-legged brothel madam, who assists Reid and Tonto in locating Cavendish, in the movie The Lone Ranger.

In 2013 Bonham Carter narrated poetry for The Love Book App, an interactive anthology of love literature developed by Allie Byrne Esiri.[43] Also in 2013, Bonham Carter appeared as Elizabeth Taylor, alongside Dominic West as Richard Burton, in BBC4's Burton & Taylor which premiered at the 2013 Hamptons International Film Festival.[44]

Personal life[edit]

In 2001, Bonham Carter began her relationship with director Tim Burton, whom she met while filming Planet of the Apes. Burton has taken to casting her in his films, including Big Fish, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows. They live in two adjoining houses in Belsize Park, London.[45] Bonham Carter owned one of the houses, Burton later purchased the other and they connected the two. In 2006, they bought the Mill House in Sutton Courtenay, England. It was previously leased by her grandmother, Violet Bonham Carter, and owned by her great-grandfather, former Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.[46][47]

On 4 October 2003, Bonham Carter gave birth to their son Billy Raymond Burton.[48] Bonham Carter gave birth to their daughter Nell Burton, on 15 December 2007 in Central London.[49] She says she named her daughter Nell after all the "Helens" in her family.[6][49] Bonham Carter told The Daily Telegraph and several other interviewers of her struggles with fertility and the difficulties she had during her pregnancies. She also said that before the conception of her daughter, she and Burton had been trying for a baby for two years and although they conceived naturally, they were considering IVF.

In August 2008, four of her relatives were killed in a safari bus crash in South Africa,[45] and she was given indefinite leave from filming Terminator Salvation, returning later to complete filming.[50]

In 2008, Bonham Carter and Burton sold their American apartments for $8.75 million.[51] In early October 2008, it was reported that Bonham Carter had become a patron of the charity Action Duchenne, the national charity established to support parents and sufferers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.[52]

In August 2014, Bonham Carter was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[53]

In the media[edit]

Bonham Carter is known for her unconventional and eccentric sense of fashion,[54][55] which has been described as "shabby chic."[56] Despite her often controversial fashion choices, Vanity Fair named her on its 2010 Best-Dressed List[57] and she was selected by Marc Jacobs to be the face of his autumn/winter 2011 advertising campaign.[58] She has cited Vivienne Westwood and Marie Antoinette as her main style influences.[57]



Bonham Carter's paternal grandparents were British Liberal politician Sir Maurice Bonham Carter and renowned politician and orator Violet Bonham Carter. Helena's paternal great-grandfather was H. H. Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Prime Minister of Britain 1908–1916. She is the grand-niece of Asquith's son, Anthony Asquith, legendary English director of such classics as Carrington V.C. and The Importance of Being Earnest, and a first cousin of the economist Adam Ridley.[59]

Bonham Carter is a distant cousin of fellow actor Crispin Bonham-Carter, who played Mr. Bingley in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, and politician Jane Bonham Carter. Other prominent distant relatives include Lothian Bonham Carter, who played first-class cricket for Hampshire, his son, Vice Admiral Stuart Bonham Carter, who served in the Royal Navy in both world wars, and pioneering English nurse Florence Nightingale.[60]


Her maternal grandfather, Spanish diplomat Eduardo Propper de Callejón, saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust during World War II, for which he was recognised as Righteous Among the Nations (his own father was a Bohemian Jew).[61][62] He later served as Minister-Counselor at the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C.[63]

Her maternal grandmother, Hélène Fould-Springer, was from an upper class Jewish family; she was the daughter of Baron Eugène Fould-Springer (a French banker, who was descended from the Ephrussi family and the Fould dynasty) and Marie Cecile von Springer (whose father was Austrian-born industrialist Baron Gustav von Springer, and whose mother was from the de Koenigswarter family).[5][64][65] Hélène Fould-Springer converted to Catholicism after World War II.[66][67] Hélène's sister was the French philanthropist Liliane de Rothschild (1916–2003), the wife of Baron Élie de Rothschild, of the prominent Rothschild family (who had also married within the von Springer family in the 19th century);[68] her other sister, Therese Fould-Springer, was the mother of British writer David Pryce-Jones.[64]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Bonham Carter has been the recipient of a BAFTA Award, a Critics' Choice Movie Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as receiving further nominations for two Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards and three Primetime Emmy Awards. She has received other prestigious awards such as a Satellite Award and two National Board of Review awards.[29]



1983Pattern of Roses, AA Pattern of RosesNetty Bellinger
1985Room with a View, AA Room with a ViewLucy Honeychurch
1986Lady JaneLady Jane Grey
1987MauriceLady at Cricket MatchCameo
1987Hazard of Hearts, AA Hazard of HeartsSerena Staverley
1988Mask, TheThe MaskIris
1988Six Minutes with LudwigThe Star
1989FrancescoChiara Offreduccio
1989Getting It RightLady Minerva Munday
1990Early Life of Beatrix Potter, TheThe Early Life of Beatrix PotterBeatrix Potter
1991Where Angels Fear to TreadCaroline Abbott
1991Brown Bear's WeddingWhite Bear (voice)
1992Howards EndHelen Schlegel
1993Dancing QueenPandora/Julie
1994Mary Shelley's FrankensteinElizabeth Frankenstein
1994Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey OswaldMarina Oswald
1994Dark-Adapted Eye, AA Dark-Adapted EyeFaith Severn (adult)
1994ButterDorothyShort film
1995Mighty AphroditeAmanda Weinrib
1995Margaret's MuseumMargaret MacNeil
1995Jeremy Hardy Gives Good SexHerself (voice)
1996Twelfth Night: Or What You WillOlivia
1996Portraits chinoisAda
1997Petticoat Expeditions, TheThe Petticoat ExpeditionsNarrator (voice)
1997Keep the Aspidistra FlyingRosemary
1997Wings of the Dove, TheThe Wings of the DoveKate Croy
1998Sweet RevengeKaren Knightly
1998Theory of Flight, TheThe Theory of FlightJane Thatchard
1999Fight ClubMarla Singer
1999Women Talking DirtyCora
1999Nearly Complete and Utter History of Everything, TheThe Nearly Complete and Utter History of EverythingLily
2000CarnivaleMilly (voice)
2001Planet of the ApesAri
2001NovocaineSusan Ivey
2001FootballMumShort film
2002Heart of Me, TheThe Heart of MeDinah
2002Live from BaghdadIngrid FormanekTelevision film
2002Till Human Voices Wake UsRuby
2003Big FishJennifer Hill/The Witch
2004Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate EventsBeatrice BaudelaireUncredited cameo
2005Conversations with Other WomenWoman
2005Magnificent 7Maggi JacksonTelevision film
2005Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-RabbitLady Tottington (voice)
2005Corpse BrideEmily the Corpse Bride (voice)
2005Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryMrs. Bucket
2006Sixty SixEsther Reubens
2007Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixBellatrix Lestrange
2007Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetMrs. Lovett
2009Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceBellatrix Lestrange
2009Terminator SalvationDr. Serena Kogan/Skynet
2009EnidEnid BlytonTelevision film
2009Gruffalo, TheThe GruffaloMother Squirrel (voice)Short film
2010Alice in WonderlandThe Red Queen
2010Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1Bellatrix Lestrange
2010King's Speech, TheThe King's SpeechQueen Elizabeth
2010ToastJoan PotterTelevision film
2011Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2Bellatrix Lestrange
2011Gruffalo's Child, TheThe Gruffalo's ChildMother Squirrel (voice)Short film
2012Dark ShadowsDr. Julia Hoffman
2012A TherapyPatientShort film
2012Great ExpectationsMiss Havisham
2012Les MisérablesMme. Thénardier
2013The Lone RangerRed Harrington
2013Burton & TaylorElizabeth TaylorTelevision film
2013The Young and Prodigious SpivetDr. Clair
2014Turks & CaicosMargot TyrrellTelevision film
2014Salting the BattlefieldMargot TyrrellTelevision film
2015SuffragetteEdith NewPost-production
2015CinderellaThe Fairy GodmotherCompleted
2016Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking GlassThe Red QueenFilming


1987Miami ViceDr. Theresa Lyons2 episodes
1988Screen TwoJo MarrinerEpisode: "The Vision"
1989Theatre NightRaina PetkoffEpisode: "Arms and the Man"
1991JackanoryReader5 episodes
1994Absolutely FabulousDream SaffronEpisode: "Hospital"
1994Good Sex Guide, TheThe Good Sex GuideHerselfEpisode #2.1
1996Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century, TheThe Great War and the Shaping of the 20th CenturyVera Brittain2 episodes
1998MerlinMorgan le Fay3 episodes
2003Henry VIIIAnne Boleyn2 episodes
2011Life's Too ShortHerselfEpisode #1.3


1987Tempest, TheThe TempestUnknownOxford Playhouse
1988Woman in White, TheThe Woman in WhiteLaura FairlieGreenwich Theatre, London
1989Chalk Garden, TheThe Chalk GardenUnknownWindsor/Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
1991House of Bernarda Alba, TheThe House of Bernarda AlbaMagdalenaNottingham Playhouse
1992Barber of Seville, TheThe Barber of SevilleRosinaPalace Theatre, Watford
1992Trelawney of the WellsImogen ParrotComedy Theatre, London


1985Reluctant Debutante, TheThe Reluctant DebutanteUnknownPerformed on BBC Radio 4
1989Happiest of All Princesses, TheThe Happiest of All PrincessesUnknownBBC Radio 4
1993Secret Garden, TheThe Secret GardenNarratorBy Frances Burnett
1993Whales' Song, TheThe Whales' SongNarratorBy Dyan Sheldon
1994Seagull, TheThe SeagullNina Mikhailovna ZarechnayaBBC Radio 4
1994Dog So Small, AA Dog So SmallNarratorBy Philippa Pearce
1994Way to Sattin Shore, TheThe Way to Sattin ShoreNarratorBy Philippa Pearce
1995Song of LoveUnknownBBC Radio 4
1995Remember MeNarrator
1996Capture the Castle, II Capture the CastleRoseBBC Radio 4
1997House by the Sea, AA House by the SeaUnknownBBC Radio 4
1997Diary of Anne Frank, TheThe Diary of Anne FrankNarrator
1998Lantern SlidesViolet Bonham CarterBBC Radio 4
2000As You Like ItRosalindBBC Radio 4
2004Rubenstein Kiss, TheThe Rubenstein KissUnknownPostponed
2010Private LivesAmandaBBC Radio 4[69]


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