Quirky English actress Helena Bonham Carter was born on May 26th 1966, in Golders Green, London. Her heritage is of aristocratic calibre. Helena’s great grandfather, Lord H. H. Asquith was the British Prime Minister (1908-1916). Her father, Raymond Bonham Carter was a merchant banker and the representative of the Bank of England at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. (1960s). Helena’s mother Elena Bonham Carter (formerly Propper de Callejón) became a psychotherapist after 3 years of therapy, helped her overcome a serious nervous breakdown. Helena’s blue blood family also includes, diplomats, barons and baronesses and her great uncle the legendary director Anthony Asquith. Helena is the youngest of three children, she has two brothers, Edward and Thomas, and is a distant cousin of actor Crispin Bonham Carter.
Helena Bonham Carter has no formal training in acting; she was educated in the independent girls’ school, South Hampstead High School, London and later at Westminster School, a co-educational independent school. Despite her adequate grades, Helena was denied admission to King’s College, Cambridge. The academic officials were sceptical that Helena’s passion for acting would enable her to finish university. Consequently the rejection of Cambridge led Helena to pursue acting as a full time occupation.
In 1979 at the age of 13 Helena entered a national writing competition and used her cash prize to pay for her profile to feature in the actors’ directory ‘Spotlight’. At 16 years old Helena landed her first agent and professional acting debut in a television advertisement. Helena’s first starring role was as Lady Jane Grey in the film ‘Lady Jane’ (1986). Her breakthrough role was Lucy Honeychurch in ‘A Room with a View’ (1985), which was filmed after ‘Lady Jane’ but released prior.
Helena’s earlier roles established her as a period drama actress, labelled the ‘Corset Queen’ and ‘English Rose’. Since then Helena has been described as Tim Burton’s, ‘Black Orchid’, due to her numerous collaborations with the director. Burton cast Helena in diverse roles that demonstrate her chameleon quality and varied skill set as an actress. In the films: ‘Planet of the Apes’ (2001) in which Helena transformed into Dr. Zira, a chimpanzee psychologist and veterinarian. Burton’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ (2005) , brought out Helena’s maternal side, as Charlie’s mother, Mrs. Bucket. In the musical ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ (2007), Helena debuted her singing ability as Mrs. Lovett, the accomplice of the vengeful Sweeney Todd. Helena was the epitome of Burton’s image of the Red Queen in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (2010). She also stars in another renowned book adaptation; ‘The Harry Potter’ series (2007- 2011), as Bellatrix Lestrange, Lord Voldemort’s most loyal Death Eater. In her most recent film, ‘The Kings Speech’ (2010), Helena draws upon her aristocratic background to personify Queen Elizabeth. She has also lent her voice to Burton’s animation film, ‘The Corpse Bride’ (2005) and ‘Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit‘ (2005) . Helena also speaks fluent French, as demonstrated in the film ‘Portraits chinois’ (1996). Helena has dabbled in most film genres, from period dramas, fantasy, animation and sci fi, making her the most diverse and eclectic actress of our time.
Helena is married to the director Tim Burton. They met in 2001, while filming ‘Planet of The Apes’. They have a son Billy Ray and daughter Nell, named in homage to all the Helen’s in her family. Johnny Depp is a close mutual friend and God father to their children. They live in London, in separate but adjoining houses, which enables them to simultaneously spend time as a family and have their own space.
In 2008 Helena became a benefactor of the charity Action Duchenne, which supports people who suffer from the disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
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