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 winning her first 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, and playing the villainess Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series, as well as for frequently collaborating with director and domestic partner Tim Burton in films such as 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. She is set to play Madame Thenardier in the 2012 film production of Les Miserables.
A two-time Academy Award nominee for her performances in The Wings of the Dove and The King's Speech, Bonham Carter's acting has been further recognised with six Golden Globe nominations, an International Emmy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to drama, and received the award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 22 February 2012.
Bonham Carter was born in Golders Green, London. Her mother, Elena (née Propper de Callejón), is a psychotherapist. Her father, Raymond Bonham Carter, 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. He came from a prominent British political family, being the son of British Liberal politician Sir Maurice Bonham Carter and renowned politician and orator Violet Bonham Carter. Helena's paternal great-grandfather was Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, Prime Minister of Britain from 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. Helena's 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 had been Jewish).He later served as Minister-Counselor at the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Helena's 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). Hélène Fould-Springer converted to Catholicism after World War II. 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); her other sister, Therese Fould-Springer, was the mother of British writer David Pryce-Jones.
Bonham Carter has two brothers, Edward and Thomas, and 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. Bonham Carter is also distantly related (through marriage) to Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, and pioneering English nurse Florence Nightingale. Other prominent distant relatives include Lothian Bonham Carter, who played first-class cricket for Hampshire, and his son, Vice Admiral Stuart Bonham Carter, who served in the Royal Navy in both of the 20th century's world wars.
She was educated at South Hampstead High School, an independent girls' school in Hampstead, London, and later at Westminster School, a co-educational independent school near the Palace of Westminster. Bonham Carter was denied admission to King's College, Cambridge, not because of her grades and her test scores but because school officials were afraid that she would leave mid-term to pursue her acting career.
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. 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. 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, before his death in January 2004.
Bonham Carter has not received any formal training in acting. In 1979, she won a national writing contest and used the money to pay for her entry into the actors directory Spotlight. 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 starring 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. The role went to Emily Watson, who was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. 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. Throughout the series, references to physical similarities between Bonham Carter and the character of Saffron had been made.
These early films led to her to 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 it netted her first Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. She has since expanded her range, with her more recent films being Fight Club, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Big Fish, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Alice in Wonderland.
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. Bonham Carter was a member of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival jury that unanimously selected The Wind That Shakes the Barley as best film.
Bonham Carter played Bellatrix Lestrange in 2007's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2010's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, and 2011's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. While filming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, she accidentally ruptured Matthew Lewis's eardrum when her character stuck her wand in his character Neville Longbottom's ear. Bonham Carter received positive reviews as Lestrange, described as a "shining but underused talent" She then 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. The film was released on 21 December 2007 in the US and 25 January 2008 in the UK. 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.
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, mop caps and bloomers. The duo are now working on Pantaloonies customised jeans, which Bonham Carter describes as "a kind of scrapbook on the bum."
Bonham Carter joined the cast of partner Tim Burton's 2010 film, Alice in Wonderland as The Red Queen. Bonham Carter appears alongside Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Christopher Lee and Alan Rickman. Bonham Carter's role was an amalgamation of two roles, The Queen of Hearts, and The Red Queen. In early 2009, Bonham Carter was named one of The Times newspaper's top 10 British Actresses of all time. Bonham Carter appeared on the list with fellow actresses Julie Andrews, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Audrey Hepburn.
In 2010, Bonham Carter played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in the film The King's Speech. As of January 2011, Bonham Carter 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. Bonham Carter 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. Bonham Carter also 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 and received a gala at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival. She has now been confirmed to be taking on the role of Miss Havisham in Mike Newell's adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations. She received the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year from BAFTA LA in November 2011.
In mid-2011, Bonham Carter was reported to be in negotiations to star in a film adaptation of the musical Les Misérables, playing the role of Madame Thénardier. Her role was later confirmed on 8 September 2011. In April 2012, Bonham Carter appeared in Rufus Wainwright's music video for his single "Out of the Game," featured on the album of the same name.
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. Her casting was announced alongside that of Kathy Bates, Kyle Catlett and Callum Keith Rennie, with Jean-Pierre Jeunet directing. 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.
In 2001, Bonham Carter began her current relationship with director Tim Burton, whom she met while filming Planet of the Apes. Burton has taken to casting Bonham Carter 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 Belsize Park, London. Bonham Carter owned one of the houses, Burton later purchased the other and they then connected the two. She also lives in Sutton Courtenay, England.
Their son Billy Raymond Burton was born on 4 October 2003. At age 41, she gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Nell Burton, on 15 December 2007 in Central London. She says she named her daughter Nell after all the "Helens" in her family.
In August 2008, four of her relatives were killed in a safari bus crash in South Africa, and she was given indefinite leave from filming Terminator Salvation, returning later to complete filming.
In 2008, Bonham Carter and Burton sold their American flats for $8.75 million. 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.
Bonham Carter is known for her unconventional sense of fashion, which has been described as "shabby chic".] Despite her often controversial fashion choices, Vanity Fair named her on its 2010 Best-Dressed List and she was selected by Marc Jacobs to be the face of his autumn/winter 2011 advertising campaign. She cites Vivienne Westwood and Marie Antoinette as her main style influences.