Helena Bonham Carter, CBE (born 26 May 1966) is an English actress. She is known for her roles in low-budget arthouse and independent films to large-scale Hollywood productions. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Kate Croy in The Wings of the Dove (1997). For her role as Queen Elizabeth in The King's Speech (2010), she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She also won the 2010 International Emmy Award for Best Actress for her role as British author Enid Blyton in the TV film Enid (2009).
Bonham Carter began her film career playing the title character in Lady Jane (1986), and playing Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View (1985). Her other film roles include Ophelia in Hamlet (1990), Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991), Howards End (1992), Elizabeth Lavenza in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Marla Singer in Fight Club (1999), Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series (2007–11), Skynet in Terminator Salvation (2009), Miss Havisham in Great Expectations (2012), Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables (2012), and The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella (2015). She has frequently collaborated with director Tim Burton; in Planet of the Apes (2001), Big Fish (2003), Corpse Bride (2005), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Dark Shadows (2012), and playing the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland (2010) and its sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016). Her other television films include A Pattern of Roses (1983), Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald (1993), Live from Baghdad (2002), Toast (2010), and Burton & Taylor (2013).
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 in January 2014, the British prime minister, David Cameron, announced that Bonham Carter had been appointed to Britain's new national Holocaust Commission.
Bonham Carter was born in Islington, London. 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 (see also Ancestry). Her mother, Elena (née Propper de Callejón), is a psychotherapist who is of 3/4 Jewish background, and whose own parents were diplomats Eduardo Propper de Callejón and Baroness Hélène Fould-Springer. Her paternal grandmother was politician and feminist icon Violet Asquith, daughter of H. H. Asquith, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the first half of World War I.
Bonham Carter is the youngest of three children, with two brothers, Edward and Thomas. They were brought up in Golders Green and 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.
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 brothers at college, Bonham Carter was left to help her mother cope. She later studied her father's movements and mannerisms for her role in The Theory of Flight. He died in January 2004.
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 (1985), which was filmed after Lady Jane but released two months earlier. 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 The 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, and starred 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/Queen Elizabeth 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 International Film Festival. She received the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year from BAFTA LA in 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 T.S. 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.
In 2016, Bonham Carter reprised her role of the Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass. In June 2016, it was confirmed that Bonham Carter would star in a spin-off of the Ocean's Eleven Trilogy, titled Ocean's 8, alongside: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, and Sarah Paulson.
In 2001, Bonham Carter began a relationship with American director Tim Burton, whom she met while filming Planet of the Apes. Burton subsequently took 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. Bonham Carter and Burton lived in two adjoining houses in Belsize Park, London. 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 British prime minister H. H. Asquith.
Bonham Carter and Burton have two children together: son Billy Raymond Burton (born October 2003) and daughter Nell Burton (born December 2007). Bonham Carter has stated that her daughter Nell is named after all the "Helens" in her family. Bonham Carter told The Daily Telegraph and several other interviewers of her struggles with infertility and the difficulties she had during her pregnancies. She noted 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. On 23 December 2014, Bonham Carter and Burton announced that they had "separated amicably" earlier that year.
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 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.
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. In May 2016, Bonham Carter was one of hundreds of public figures who signed an open letter supporting the United Kingdom remaining a member of the European Union in the run-up to June's referendum on that issue.
Bonham Carter is known for her unconventional and eccentric sense of fashion. 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 has cited Vivienne Westwood and Marie Antoinette as her main style influences.
Bonham Carter's paternal grandparents were British Liberal politician Sir Maurice Bonham Carter and renowned politician and orator Lady Violet Bonham Carter. Helena is descended on her father's side from John Bonham Carter, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth. Helena's paternal great-grandfather was H. H. Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith and Prime Minister of Britain 1908–1916. She is the great-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 and of politician Jane Bonham Carter.
Bonham Carter is a distant cousin of actor Crispin 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.
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). He later served as Minister-Counselor at the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Her maternal grandmother, Baroness Hélène Fould-Springer, was from an upper class Jewish family; she was the daughter of Baron Eugène Fould-Springer (a French banker 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); Liliane's other sister, Therese Fould-Springer, was the mother of British writer David Pryce-Jones.
|Ancestors of Helena Bonham Carter|
|1983||Pattern of Roses, AA Pattern of Roses||Netty Bellinger|
|1985||Room with a View, AA Room with a View||Lucy Honeychurch|
|1986||Lady Jane||Lady Jane Grey|
|1987||Maurice||Lady at Cricket Match||Cameo|
|Hazard of Hearts, AA Hazard of Hearts||Serena Staverley|
|1988||Mask, TheThe Mask||Iris|
|Six Minutes with Ludwig||The Star|
|Arms and the Man||Raina Petkoff|
|Getting It Right||Lady Minerva Munday|
|Early Life of Beatrix Potter, TheThe Early Life of Beatrix Potter||Beatrix Potter|
|1991||Where Angels Fear to Tread||Caroline Abbott|
|Brown Bear's Wedding||White Bear (voice)|
|1992||Howards End||Helen Schlegel|
|1993||Dancing Queen||Pandora / Julie|
|1994||Mary Shelley's Frankenstein||Elizabeth Frankenstein|
|Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald||Marina Oswald|
|Dark-Adapted Eye, AA Dark-Adapted Eye||Faith Severn (adult)|
|1995||Mighty Aphrodite||Amanda Weinrib|
|Margaret's Museum||Margaret MacNeil|
|Jeremy Hardy Gives Good Sex||Herself (voice)|
|1996||Twelfth Night: Or What You Will||Olivia|
|1997||Petticoat Expeditions, TheThe Petticoat Expeditions||Narrator (voice)|
|Keep the Aspidistra Flying||Rosemary|
|Wings of the Dove, TheThe Wings of the Dove||Kate Croy|
|1998||Sweet Revenge||Karen Knightly||Also known as The Revengers' Comedies|
|Theory of Flight, TheThe Theory of Flight||Jane Thatchard|
|1999||Fight Club||Marla Singer|
|Women Talking Dirty||Cora|
|Nearly Complete and Utter History of Everything, TheThe Nearly Complete and Utter History of Everything||Lily|
|2001||Planet of the Apes||Ari|
|2002||Heart of Me, TheThe Heart of Me||Dinah|
|Till Human Voices Wake Us||Ruby|
|2003||Big Fish||Jennifer Hill / The Witch|
|2004||Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events||Beatrice Baudelaire||Uncredited cameo|
|2005||Conversations with Other Women||Woman|
|Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit||Lady Tottington (voice)|
|Corpse Bride||Emily, the Corpse Bride (voice)|
|Charlie and the Chocolate Factory||Mrs. Bucket|
|2006||Sixty Six||Esther Reubens|
|2007||Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix||Bellatrix Lestrange|
|Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street||Mrs. Lovett|
|2009||Terminator Salvation||Dr. Serena Kogan / Skynet|
|Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||Bellatrix Lestrange|
|Gruffalo, TheThe Gruffalo||Mother Squirrel (voice)||Short film|
|2010||Alice in Wonderland||Red Queen / Iracebeth of Crims|
|King's Speech, TheThe King's Speech||Queen Elizabeth|
|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1||Bellatrix Lestrange|
|2011||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2||Bellatrix Lestrange|
|Gruffalo's Child, TheThe Gruffalo's Child||Mother Squirrel (voice)||Short film|
|2012||Dark Shadows||Dr. Julia Hoffman|
|A Therapy||Patient||Short film|
|Great Expectations||Miss Havisham|
|Les Misérables||Mme. Thénardier|
|2013||The Lone Ranger||Red Harrington|
|The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet||Dr. Clair|
|2014||Night Will Fall||Narrator||Documentary film|
|2015||Cinderella||The Fairy Godmother|
|2016||Alice Through the Looking Glass||Red Queen / Iracebeth of Crims|
|2017||Poles Apart||Nanuk||Short film|
|55 Steps||Eleanor Riese|
|2018||Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero||Margaret Conroy (voice)||Completed|
|1987||Miami Vice||Dr. Theresa Lyons||2 episodes|
|1988||Screen Two||Jo Marriner||Episode: "The Vision"|
|1989||Theatre Night||Raina Petkoff||Episode: "Arms and the Man"|
|1994||Absolutely Fabulous||Dream Saffron||Episode: "Hospital"|
|Good Sex Guide, TheThe Good Sex Guide||Herself||Episode #2.1|
|1996||Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century, TheThe Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century||Vera Brittain||2 episodes|
|1998||Merlin||Morgan le Fay||3 episodes|
|2002||Live from Baghdad||Ingrid Formanek||Television film|
|2003||Henry VIII||Anne Boleyn||2 episodes|
|2005||Magnificent 7||Maggi Jackson||Television film|
|2009||Enid||Enid Blyton||Television film|
|2010||Toast||Joan Potter||Television film|
|2011||Life's Too Short||Herself||Episode #1.3|
|2013||Burton & Taylor||Elizabeth Taylor||Television film|
|2014||Turks & Caicos||Margot Tyrrell||Television film|
|Salting the Battlefield||Margot Tyrrell||Television film|
|2015||Codes of Conduct||Esther Kaufmann||Pilot (not picked up)|
|2016||Love, Nina||George||5 episodes|
|2017||Saying Goodbye||Herself / Narrator (voice)||Documentary|
|2012||Rufus Wainwright||"Out Of The Game"|||
|2015||Bryan Adams||"Brand New Day"|||
|2005||Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit||Lady Tottington (voice)|
|1987||Tempest, TheThe Tempest||Unknown||Oxford Playhouse|
|1988||Woman in White, TheThe Woman in White||Laura Fairlie||Greenwich Theatre, London|
|1989||Chalk Garden, TheThe Chalk Garden||Unknown||Windsor/Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford|
|1991||House of Bernarda Alba, TheThe House of Bernarda Alba||Magdalena||Nottingham Playhouse|
|1992||Barber of Seville, TheThe Barber of Seville||Rosina||Palace Theatre, Watford|
|1992||Trelawney of the Wells||Imogen Parrot||Comedy Theatre, London|
|1985||Reluctant Debutante, TheThe Reluctant Debutante||Unknown||BBC Radio 4|
|1989||Happiest of All Princesses, TheThe Happiest of All Princesses||Unknown||BBC Radio 4|
|1993||Secret Garden, TheThe Secret Garden||Narrator||By Frances Burnett|
|1993||Whales' Song, TheThe Whales' Song||Narrator||By Dyan Sheldon|
|1994||Seagull, TheThe Seagull||Nina Mikhailovna Zarechnaya||BBC Radio 4|
|1994||Dog So Small, AA Dog So Small||Narrator||By Philippa Pearce|
|1994||Way to Sattin Shore, TheThe Way to Sattin Shore||Narrator||By Philippa Pearce|
|1995||Song of Love||Unknown||BBC Radio 4|
|1996||Capture the Castle, II Capture the Castle||Rose||BBC Radio 4|
|1997||House by the Sea, AA House by the Sea||Unknown||BBC Radio 4|
|1997||Diary of Anne Frank, TheThe Diary of Anne Frank||Narrator|
|1998||Lantern Slides||Violet Bonham Carter||BBC Radio 4|
|2000||As You Like It||Rosalind||BBC Radio 4|
|2004||Rubenstein Kiss, TheThe Rubenstein Kiss||Unknown||Postponed|
|2010||Private Lives||Amanda||BBC Radio 4|
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.