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Helena Bonham Carter Bio
Helena Bonham Carter CBE (born 26 May 1966) is an English actress. She made her name as an actress in a television adaptation of K. M. Peyton‘s A Pattern of Roses, before her film debut 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 has frequently collaborated with 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, and in 2015 the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.
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, and received the honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 22 February 2012.
Bonham Carter, who has no formal acting training, 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, Stewart Granger in A Hazard of Hearts and John Gielgud in Getting It Right. 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 her performance.
In 1994, Bonham Carter appeared in a dream sequence during the second series of the British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, as 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, with her more recent films being Fight Club, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and her then-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.
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.
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”.
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. Bonham Carter received positive reviews as Bellatrix, described as a “shining but underused talent”. 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, 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.
Bonham Carter joined the cast of Tim Burton’s 2010 film, Alice in Wonderland as The Red Queen. She appears alongside Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Crispin Glover and Harry Potter co-star Alan Rickman. Her role was an amalgamation of The Queen of Hearts and The Red Queen. In early 2009, Bonham Carter was named one of The Times’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.
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. 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. 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 and received a gala at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival. She received the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year from BAFTA LA in November 2011.
In 2012, Bonham Carter appeared as Miss Havisham in Mike Newell‘s adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations. 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. Bonham Carter co-starred in a film adaptation of the musical Les Misérables, released in 2012. She played the role of Madame Thénardier.
On 17 May 2012, it was announced that Bonham Carter would be appearing in the 2013 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 2013, she played Red Harrington, a peg-legged brothel madam, who assists Reid and Tonto in locating Cavendish, in the movie The Lone Ranger. Also that year, Bonham Carter narrated poetry for The Love Book App, an interactive anthology of love literature developed by Allie Byrne Esiri. 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. She played the Fairy Godmother in the 2015 live-action re-imagining of Walt Disney‘s Cinderella.