Helena Bonham Carter CBE (born 26 May 1966) is an English actress. She is known for her roles in both low-budget independent art films and large-scale blockbusters. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Kate Croy in The Wings of the Dove (1997) and for Best Supporting Actress and won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Queen Elizabeth in The King’s Speech (2010). She also won the 2010 International Emmy Award for Best Actress for her role as author Enid Blyton in the television film Enid (2009).
Bonham Carter began her film career playing Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View (1985) and the title character in Lady Jane (1986). Her other films include Hamlet (1990), Howards End (1992), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite (1995), The Wings of the Dove (1997), Fight Club (1999), Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series (2007–11), Miss Havisham in Great Expectations (2012), Madame Thénardier in Les Misérables (2012), the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella (2015), and Rose Weil in Ocean’s 8 (2018). Her frequent collaborations with director Tim Burton include 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), Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Dark Shadows (2012). Her 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). In 2018, she was confirmed to play Princess Margaret on seasons three and four of The Crown.
Bonham Carter was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours list for services to drama, and Prime Minister David Cameron announced that she had been appointed to Britain’s new national Holocaust Commission in January 2014.
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 debut at the age of 16 in a television commercial. She also had a minor part in a TV film, A Pattern of Roses. Bonham Carter’s 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. She also appeared in episodes of Miami Vice as Don Johnson’s love interest during the 1986–87 season and then, in 1987 with 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 owing 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.
She 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 worked 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 and praise 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; she 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, she 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. She 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 patient of 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 2018, she starred in a spin-off of the Ocean’s Eleven Trilogy, titled Ocean’s 8, alongside Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, and Sarah Paulson. She plays an older Princess Margaret for the Netflix series The Crown, replacing Vanessa Kirby who played a younger version for the first two seasons. During an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, she claims to have met Margaret and that her uncle dated Margaret.