Helena Bonham Carter, daughter of Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant banker, and Elena Bonham Carter (née Propper de Callejón), a psychotherapist, was born in Golders Green, London, England on May 26, 1966 and is the youngest of three children. She is the great-granddaughter of former Prime Minister Herbert H. Asquith and her blue-blooded family tree also contains Barons and Baronesses, diplomats, and a director, Bonham Carter's great-uncle Anthony Asquith, who made Pygmalion (1938) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), among others. Cousin Crispin Bonham-Carter is also an actor.
After experiencing family dramas that included her father's stroke-which left him wheelchair-bound-and attending South Hampstead High School and Westminster School in London, Bonham Carter devoted herself to an acting career. That trajectory actually began in 1979 when, at age 13, she entered a national poetry writing competition and used her second place winnings to place her photo in the casting directory "Spotlight." She soon had her first agent and her first acting job, in a commercial, at age 16. She then landed a role in the made-for-TV movie A Pattern of Roses (1983) (TV), which subsequently led to her casting in the Merchant Ivory films A Room with a View (1985) and Lady Jane (1986), which was her first leading role.
Often referred to as the "corset queen" or "English rose" because of her early work, Bonham Carter has continued to surprise audiences with magnificent performances in a variety of roles from her more traditional corset-clad character in The Wings of the Dove (1997) and Shakespearian damsels to the dark and neurotic anti-heroines of Fight Club (1999) and many of Tim Burton's films. Though consistently a versatile and engaging actress, Bonham Carter has never won a major American film award. However, she has received a number of critical awards and has been nominated for five Golden Globes, an Oscar, a SAG Award, and two Emmys.
Bonham Carter was nominated for a Golden Globe for the fifth time for her role in partner Tim Burton's film adaptation of the Steven Sondheim musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), for which Burton and co-star Johnny Depp were also nominated. Since their meeting while filming Planet of the Apes (2001), Bonham Carter and Burton have made four movies together. They live in adjoining residences in London, sharing a connecting hallway, and have two children: Billy Ray Burton, 4, and Nell Burton, who was born December 15, 2007. Ironically, a mutual love of Sweeney Todd was part of the initial attraction for the pair. Despite that, Bonham Carter has said in numerous interviews that her audition process for the role of Mrs. Lovett was the most grueling of her career and that, ultimately, it was Sondheim who she had to convince that she was right for the role.
Helena Bonham Carter is an actress of great versatility, and one of the UK's finest and most successful.
Most recently, she has starred in Sweeney Todd as Mrs Lovett alongside Johnny Depp for which she was awarded Best Actress at the Evening Standard British Film Awards 2008. Other recent work includes Conversations with Other Women opposite Aaron Eckhart, as Mrs Bucket in Tim Burton's massive hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and provided the voices for the aristocratic Lady Campanula Tottington in Wallace & Gromit - Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and the eponymous dead heroine in Tim Burton's spooky Corpse Bride.
Her acclaimed performance in The Wings of the Dove in 1997 won her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination, a BAFTA Best Actress nomination, and a SAG Awards Best Actress nomination. It also won her a Best Actress Award from the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics, the Boston Society Film Critics, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Texas Society of Film Critics, and the Southeastern Film Critics Association.
Other notable credits which followed include her appearance with Steve Martin in Novacaine, her memorable performance as Marla Singer in David Fincher's neo-classic Fight Club opposite Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, Tim Burton's remake of Planet of the Apes, in which she played an ape, Thaddeus O'Sullivan's The Heart of Me, opposite Paul Bettany, and Big Fish, her second effort with Tim Burton in which she appeared as a witch.
Helena achieved success in films early on in her career. Before she was 20 years old, she had scored her first lead in director James Ivory's tasteful adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel A Room With a View (1985), only her second film after playing the leading role in Trevor Nunn's Lady Jane. Helena went on to make three more films under the Merchant-Ivory banner - Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991) and Howards End (1992) - and an earlier uncredited appearance in Maurice (1987).
Helena has also starred in Mick Jackson's Live From Baghdad, alongside Michael Keaton, receiving a nomination for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe; Paul Greengrass' The Theory of Flight, in which she played a victim of motor neurone disease; Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night, in which she played Olivia, opposite Woody Allen in his Mighty Aphrodite, Mort Ransen's Margaret's Museum, Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein, and Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet.
In between her many films Helena has also managed a few television appearances which include most recently her portrayal of Jacqui Jackson in Magnificent Seven, the tale of a mother struggling to raise seven children - three daughters and four autistic boys; as Anne Boleyn in the two parter biopic of Henry VIII starring Ray Winstone; and as Morgan Le Fey alongside Sam Neill and Miranda Richardson in Merlin. Earlier television appearances include Michael Mann's Miami Vice as Don Johnson's junkie fiancée, and as a stripper who wins Rik Mayall's heart in Dancing Queen.
Helena has also appeared on stage in productions of Trelawney of the Wells, The Barber of Seville, House of Bernarda Alba, The Chalk Garden, and Woman in White.
In the late 1990s, Helena Bonham Carter seemed poised to embark on the next phase of her career, moving from capable actress to compelling star. Audiences and critics had long been enchanted by her delicate beauty, evocative of another time and place; in 1997, she showed that she was more than a pretty face and a skilled line-reader, with her performance in "The Wings of the Dove," for which she received a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
Born in Golders Green, London, on May 26, 1966, Bonham Carter achieved early success in films. In the first part of her career, she became a staple in what can be seen as an offshoot of the British Heritage industry, starring in well-received adaptations of British or Anglo-American novels. At 19, she scored her first lead, in director James Ivory's tasteful adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel "A Room With a View" (1985), only her second film. She followed this with a strong performance as the uncrowned Queen of England in "Lady Jane."
She appeared in three other productions under the Merchant-Ivory banner (director Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala; "Howards End" (1992) was the last film she made with them. Some have suggested that her success in those period pieces was partly the result of her pedigreed background: She is descended from British Prime Minister H.H. Asquith.
Although Bonham Carter hasn't catapulted to superstardom, she has given many memorable performances, most of which have taken her far from her Merchant-Ivory roots, such as Marla in "Fight Club," or have expanded on them tremendously (for example, in "Wings," she appears what is arguably the most explicit nude scene ever shared by an Oscar-nominated actress). Bonham Carter has proved herself to be a gifted and imaginative actress.
Often plays eccentric characters
Often plays pre-20th century characters
Wild messy hair
Unique offbeat style of dress with lots of black clothing
Lived with Kenneth Branagh. [1994 - September 1999]
Great-granddaughter of H.H. Asquith, British Prime Minister (1908-1916).
She is a first cousin of Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter, and only a distant cousin of Crispin Bonham-Carter: Crispin's father, Peter Malcolm Bonham-Carter, is a third cousin of Helena Bonham Carter. The first ancestors that Crispin and Helena have in common, are John Bonham-Carter (1788-1838) and his wife Joanna Maria Smith (1791-1884).
Her father was severely paralyzed by botched brain surgery in the 1980s.
Speaks French fluently.
She was denied admission to King's College, Cambridge University, not because of her grades or her test scores but because school officials were afraid that she would leave mid-term to pursue her acting career. Because of Cambridge's rejection, Helena decided to concentrate fully on acting.
She is the granddaughter of Violet Bonham Carter, a Life Peeress in her own right, and the niece of Mark Bonham-Carter, who was created a Life Peer in his own right as well. Her half-Spanish mother 'Elena Propper de Callejon' is niece of Baroness Liliane de Rothschild, née Fould-Springer.
Planned to return to the West End with an appearance in "Rubenstein's Kiss"; however, the play was delayed because of her busy schedule. The production, also set to star Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet fame, was due to open in November 2004 but has now been postponed.
In 2005, her voice appeared in two stop-motion animated films. They were Corpse Bride (2005) and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005). Both films were nominated for the Academy award for best animated film. The award went to Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
In May 2006, she launched her own fashion line, "The Pantaloonies," with swimwear designer Samantha Sage. Their first collection, called Bloomin' Bloomers, is a Victoriana style selection of camisoles, mop caps and bloomers. The duo are now working on Pantaloonies customized jeans which Helena describes as "a kind of scrapbook on the bum.".
Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.
She is the daughter of a prominent British banker and the great-granddaughter of Asquith, the Liberal prime minister.
Her brother Edward is married to TV presenter Victoria Studd.
Was cast as Bellatrix Lestrange after Helen McCrory became pregnant, and would have been nearly full-term when her scenes were shot. She returned to the role for one scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), opposite McCrory as her sister Narcissa Malfoy. Ironically, Carter was able to be in this scene because it was scheduled to be filmed after she gave birth to her own child.
Ranked #99 on the 2008 Telegraph's list "the 100 most powerful people in British culture".
Given indefinite leave from the set of Terminator Salvation in New Mexico after her relatives were on a South African safari holiday on Wednesday, 20 August, 2008, when the minibus they were travelling in spun out of control and flipped after a tyre burst. Helena's cousin, Fiona Bonham Carter, 51, escaped with a broken shoulder but Fiona's son Marcus Egerton-Warburton, 14; mother Brenda, 74; stepfather Francis Kirkwood, 75; and sister-in-law Kay Boardman, 54, all died.
She based her performance of Marla Singer in Fight Club (1999) on Judy Garland in the later stages of her life. To help her get into the mindset, director David Fincher would often call her Judy on-set.
Describes her character in the Harry Potter films, Bellatrix Lestrange, as a sadist and a racist, obsessed with blood purity.
Underwent extensive vocal lessons and studied baking in preparation for her role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007).
Was originally going to appear as a cyborg in Terminator Salvation (2009) which would match her former choices of eccentric characters. However, the script was leaked online and her character got rewritten and her screen time significantly cut down, and her character changed.
Returned to work two months after giving birth to her daughter Nell in order to begin filming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009).
Returned to work eight months after giving birth to her son Billy Ray in order to begin filming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).
Became romantically involved with her director Tim Burton after their Planet of the Apes (2001) wrapped. Instead of moving in with her in her Hampstead home in London, Burton bought two next-door houses which the couple both share today (2010).
In 1992, she was starring in "Trelawny of the Wells" on stage, when the Independent theatre critic Paul Taylor said that he would have been able to have appreciated her performance more from a restricted-viewing seat. Bonham Carter calmly wrote him a letter suggesting that the next time he came to see her he ought to let her know, so she might ensure that was the case.
In 2009, The Times named her one of the Top 10 British Actresses of all-time.
Close friends with Liberal Democrat leader and politician Nick Clegg since their days at Westminster School, London, England.
Was two months pregnant with her daughter Nell when she completed filming on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007).
Her grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejon, was a half-Jewish/half-Catholic Spanish diplomat who helped thousands of Jews to escape Nazi-occupied France during World War II.
Was a potential candidate for the role of Sarah in Labyrinth (1986) before the role went to Jennifer Connelly.
Became the fifth actor to appear in 2 films to gross $1 billion with Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011). She is the first woman to achieve this feat.
In a relationship with Tim Burton [2001-present; 2 children].
Gave birth to her first child at age 37, a son Billy Raymond Burton on October 4, 2003. Child's father is her boyfriend, Tim Burton.
Gave birth to her second child at age 41, a daughter Nell Burton on December 15, 2007. Child's father is her boyfriend, Tim Burton.
She was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2012 Queen's New Years Honours List for her services to drama.
A distant cousin of Kate Middleton.
She lived with her parents in the family home until her early thirties. She claimed it was simply because she had a very good relationship with them.
She and her partner Tim Burton were amazed at the ability for football their son Billy displayed at a very young age as neither of them is particularly athletic.
I hate this image of me as a prim Edwardian. I want to shock everyone.
I should get a few ribs taken out, because I'll be in a corset for the rest of my life.
[on breast-feeding her baby]: People say, "You're still breast-feeding, that's so generous". Generous, no! It gives me boobs and it takes my thighs away! It's sort of like natural liposuction. I'd carry on breast-feeding for the rest of my life if I could.
He's very cool. Whatever Johnny does, there's something cool about it. He's very hip. It's emotional and vulnerable, too, which makes it touching. - on her friend and colleague Johnny Depp.
I'm drawn to emotionally damaged characters because there is more to unlock.
[on being awarded the CBE] I am thrilled though not sure that I deserve it. I always thought my father deserved a medal for facing 25 years of chronic disability with quiet daily heroism so I am delighted to accept such a wonderful honor in his memory.
(December 2011) Hampstead, London, England
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