Date of Birth
26 December 1966, Golders Green, London, England, UK
5' 2" (1.57 m)
Helena Bonham Carter is an actress of great versatility, one of the UK's finest and most successful.
Bonham Carter was born May 26, 1966 in Golders Green, London, England, the youngest of three children of Elena (nÃ©e Propper de CallejÃ³n), a psychotherapist, and Raymond Bonham Carter, a merchant banker. Through her father, 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. Her maternal grandfather, Eduardo Propper de CallejÃ³n, was a Spanish diplomat who was awarded the honorific Righteous Among the Nations, by Israel, for helping save Jews during World War II (Eduardo's own father was a Czech Jew). Helena's maternal grandmother, HÃ©lÃ¨ne Fould-Springer, was from an upper-class Jewish family from France, Austria, and Germany, and later converted to her husband's Catholic faith.
Bonham Carter experiencing family dramas during her childhood, including her father's stroke - which left him wheelchair-bound. She attended South Hampstead High School and Westminster School in London, and subsequently devoted herself to an acting career. That trajectory actually began in 1979 when, at age thirteen, 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 sixteen. She then landed a role in the made-for-TV movie A Pattern of Roses (1983), which subsequently led to her casting in the Merchant Ivory films A Room with a View (1985), director James Ivory's tasteful adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel, and Lady Jane (1986), giving a strong performance as the uncrowned Queen of England. She had roles in three other productions under the Merchant-Ivory banner (director Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala): an uncredited appearance in Maurice (1987), and large roles in Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991) and Howards End (1992).
Often referred to as the "corset queen" or "English rose" because of her early work, Bonham Carter 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). Her acclaimed performance in The Wings of the Dove (1997) earned 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.
In the late 1990s, Bonham Carter embarked 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. Her late '90s and early and mid 2000s roles included Mick Jackson's Live from Baghdad (2002), alongside Michael Keaton, receiving a nomination for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe; Paul Greengrass' The Theory of Flight (1998), in which she played a victim of motor neurone disease; Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night or What You Will (1996), in which she played Olivia; opposite Woody Allen in his Mighty Aphrodite (1995); Mort Ransen's Margaret's Museum (1995); Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994); and Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet (1990).
Other notable credits include her appearance with Steve Martin in Novocaine (2001), Tim Burton's remake of Planet of the Apes, in which she played an ape, Thaddeus O'Sullivan's The Heart of Me (2002), opposite Paul Bettany, and Big Fish (2003), her second effort with Tim Burton, in which she appeared as a witch.
In between her films, Helena has managed a few television appearances, which include her portrayal of Jacqui Jackson in Magnificent 7 (2005), 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 (1984) as Don Johnson's junkie fiancÃ©e, and as a stripper who wins Rik Mayall's heart in Dancing Queen (1993). 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.
Bonham Carter was nominated for a Golden Globe for the fifth time for her role in partner Tim Burton's film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), for which Burton and co-star Johnny Depp were also nominated. For the role, she was awarded Best Actress at the Evening Standard British Film Awards 2008. Other 2000s work includes playing Mrs Bucket in Tim Burton's massive hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), providing the voices for the aristocratic Lady Campanula Tottington in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) and for the eponymous dead heroine in Tim Burton's spooky Corpse Bride (2005), and co-starring in Conversations with Other Women (2005) opposite Aaron Eckhart.
Since their meeting while filming Planet of the Apes (2001), Bonham Carter and Tim Burton have made seven 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.
(1994 - September 1999) Lived with Kenneth Branagh.
Carter is descended from a very distinguished family. She is the great-granddaughter of H.H. Asquith, British Prime Minister (1908-1916) and her great-grandmother is Violet Bonham Carter, a British activist who was, at one time, engaged to one of her father's protÃ©gÃ©es, Winston Churchill. When Churchill decided to marry his ultimate wife Clemintine, Violet was involved in a fall off a cliff, the circumstances of which have been questioned for a century. However, she did survive and went on to a distinguished political career, including advisor to Churchill. Carter is also the grand-niece of distinguished British director Anthony Asquith.
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, nÃ©e Fould-Springer. As of May 2014, Carter has been cast to play her grandmother in Oliver Hirschbiegel's adaptation of Barbara Tuchman history of World War I, The Guns of August.
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 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.
Turned down the role of Bess in Breaking the Waves (1996) due to the sexual content. The role went to Emily Watson who was nominated for an Oscar for that role.
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.
Is close friends with Johnny Depp, who often works with her fiancÃ©, Tim Burton. In fact, Depp is the godfather of her child with Burton, Billy Ray.
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.
Tested for the role of Nancy Spungen in Sid and Nancy (1986).
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.
A fight between her and Gary Oldman in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) was cut from the final film. She had been training for three weeks for the fight.
Describes her character in the Harry Potter films, Bellatrix Lestrange, as a sadist and a racist, obsessed with blood purity.
Wears fake teeth in 10 of her films - Planet of the Apes (2001), Big Fish (2003), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Great Expectations (2012), Cinderella (2015) and the four Harry Potter films.
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.
Spent 2010/11 New Year's Eve with her husband Tim Burton at England's Premier David Cameron home Chequers, the official country residence of British Prime Ministers since 1921.
Was two months pregnant with her daughter Nell when she completed filming on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007).
Helena's father was of English ancestry. Helena's maternal 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 (Eduardo's maternal grandmother, who was from New Orleans, had Irish and French ancestry). Helena's maternal grandmother, HÃ©lÃ¨ne Fould-Springer, was from a Jewish family (her Jewish ancestors were from many countries, including Austria, Belgium, Bohemia, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine).
Was a potential candidate for the role of Sarah in Labyrinth (1986) before the role went to Jennifer Connelly.
Her grandmother, Violet Bonham Carter, was friends with Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In The King's Speech (2010), Helena acts opposite Churchill, as played by Timothy Spall.
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.
Was in a relationship with Tim Burton from 2001 to 2014. They have 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 now ex-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 now ex-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 Catherine Duchess of Cambridge.
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.
She has played the mothers of both England's Queen Elizabeths. She played Anne Boleyn in the TV production of "Henry VIII" and then Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother, in the 2010 film "The King's Speech". British actress Natalie Dormer also played both these parts in different productions.
She has played two Tudor queens who were decapitated for treason. Lady Jane Grey in Trevor Nunn's film about the tragic nine day queen, "Lady Jane" and later Anne Boleyn, in the TV production of "Henry VIII" in 2003.
Hampstead, London, England [December 2011]
Attended school at Westminster.
As of 2014, she has appeared in 19 movies that have all received at least one Academy Award nomination.
She has made six films with Johnny Depp: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Dark Shadows (2012) and The Lone Ranger (2013).
Stated in an interview that she kept one of the wands belonging to her character, Bellatrix LeStrange, and as a joke on her son's friends, whenever they decided to make noise or trouble in the house, or if she didn't like one of them, she would get the wand and act as Bellatrix to frighten them back into line.
She has two roles in common with Jean Simmons: (1) Simmons played Ophelia in Hamlet (1948) while Bonham Carter played her in Hamlet (1990) and (2) Simmons played Miss Havisham in Great Expectations (1989) while Bonham Carter played her in Great Expectations (2012).
Is one of 9 actresses who have received an Academy Award nomination for portraying a real-life queen. The others in chronological order are Norma Shearer for Marie Antoinette (1938), Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter (1968), GeneviÃ¨ve Bujold for Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Vanessa Redgrave for Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Janet Suzman for Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Helen Mirren for The Madness of King George (1994) and The Queen (2006), Judi Dench for Mrs Brown (1997) and Shakespeare in Love (1998), and Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007).
She played Claire Bloom's daughter in Mighty Aphrodite (1995) and her daughter-in-law in The King's Speech (2010).
She worked with her third cousin Crispin Bonham-Carter in Howards End (1992).
She has made four films with Anne Hathaway; Alice in Wonderland (2010), Les Misérables (2012), Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), and Ocean's Eight (2018).
Has made three films with Emma Thompson; Howards End (1992), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011).
Often works with director Tim Burton, Timothy Spall and Johnny Depp
Often plays eccentric characters
Often plays pre-20th century characters
Wild messy hair and dark makeup
Unique offbeat style of dress with lots of black clothing
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.
[on witnessing your completed performance] You think you've transformed and then you see the bloody thing and you go, 'It's so me'. You think you've taken a holiday away from yourself and of course you haven't traveled an inch. It's painful, it's absolutely painful. But I've gotten better at recognizing those feelings and not getting involved in them. The first time you see your own film you want to slit your wrists.
Elzabeth was about dress-up. She loved her jewels. There's part of her that didn't grow up much. I love people who are still in touch with delight. I got to wear the jewels. The problem about it was that they weren't real..I did insist on having friends of mine do the wigs and the makeup because i didn't want to look like a man in drag.
[on playing opposite Dominic West as Richard Burton] He was so good. You really have to suspend your disbelief as an actor. They always talk about suspension of disbelief for the audience. How are you going to go, "Am I really Elizabeth Taylor?" Who gives a fuck? If the person opposite you is doing such a good job as Burton, then you go, yeah I can do Elizabeth Taylor. It was like holding someone's hand and jumping off a cliff. We were terrified and both thought it could be a stupid decision. Bit it was really fun. She still hasn't gone. The voice comes back and it drives my family up the wall. It's the drawwwwwl. Sometimes I'm like, 'Am I channelling Elizabeth or Rufus Wainwright?'
Very early on you figure out that you put your self-esteem in the hands of strangers. There's a different commodity. There's the Helena Bonham Carter that everyone thinks they know, who really has nothing to do with me. But you just have to let that go.
[on undertaking the role of Elizabeth Taylor] My mother said, 'Don't do it. You're trespassing on other people's dreams'. And I said, 'Well, I know mom but the script's so good'. Good writing is very rare. And there are so many facets to her, that I couldn't say no to her personality. There was a hell of a lot to it. I had a massive file. Tim Burton was like, 'Jesus, it looks as if you're writing a book. I said, 'Well, I have a lot of responsibility'. I read so many books, I'm sure I could pass an exam on her.
[on Johnny Depp] You know, the man's overstuffed with talent in every direction.
Everyone always says you have to be strong and have a stiff upper lip, but it's okay to be fragile.
You've got to take very small steps, and sometimes you won't know where to go next because you've lost yourself. There's a great quote I've stuck next to the kettle. It's from Alice [in Wonderland] : 'I can't explain myself ... because I'm not myself'.
It's completely absurd that because we have boobs we're not treated the same as someone with a penis.