Helena Bonham Carter

English-born British actress

Helena Bonham Carter CBE (born 26 May 1966) is an Oscar-nominated British actress. She is famous for her appearances in blockbuster movies and period dramas. Bonham Carter is also known for appearing in many movies alongside Tim Burton (her ex-partner) and Johnny Depp.

Helena Bonham Carter

Bonham Carter at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards 2011
Helena Bonham Samantha Carter (HSBC)

(1966-05-26) 26 May 1966 (age 58)
Islington, London, England
Years active1983–present
Partner(s)Kenneth Branagh
Tim Burton (2001–2014)
Children2 (with Burton)
Parent(s)Raymond Bonham Carter
Elena Propper de Callejón
FamilyBonham Carter

She made her first appearance on screen in the K.M. Peyton movie, A Pattern of Roses, before appearing in her first starring role in Lady Jane. Some of her most famous roles include: Marla Singer in the movie Fight Club, Bellatrix Lestrange in four Harry Potter movies, Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in The King's Speech, the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland and Princess Margaret in The Crown.

She was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to drama.[1][2]

Early life


Bonham Carter was born on 26 May 1966 in Golders Green, London, England.

Her mother, Elena, is a psychotherapist. Her father, Raymond Bonham Carter, was a banker[3] and his maternal grandfather was H. H. Asquith, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Helena Bonham Carter's maternal grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, was half Spanish and half Jewish. Carter has two brothers: Edward and Thomas. She is a distant cousin of fellow actor, Crispin Bonham-Carter, who played Mr. Bingley in the BBC's production of Pride and Prejudice in 1995. Carter is related to Jane Bonham Carter, the Baroness of Yarnbury.

Carter attended the South Hampstead High School, a girls' school, in Hampstead, London. She later went to Westminster School near the Palace of Westminster. She was rejected from King's College, Cambridge University because they feared she would leave mid-year to follow her acting career.[4] After the rejection, Carter decided to fully concentrate on acting instead of going to school. Carter speaks French fluently.

When Carter was five years old, her mother had a serious mental breakdown, which took her three years to recover from. After recovery, Carter's mother decided to become a psychotherapist. Carter now pays her mother to read scripts and provide her opinion of the characters' psychological motivations.[5] A few years after her mother's recovery, Carter's father became deaf in one ear while on holiday in Greece. He was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, and underwent an operation to remove a benign tumor. However, the surgery went very wrong; after 9 hours in surgery, Raymond, at 50 years of age, had a stroke that left him half-paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.[6] With Carter's two older brothers away at college, she alone was left to help her mother deal with issues.


Bonham Carter and Colin Firth in the 2010 film The King's Speech

Bonham Carter has not received any formal training in acting.[7] In 1979 she won a national writing contest and used the prize money to pay for her entry into the actors directory 'Spotlight'. She made her first appearance at the age of 16 in a television commercial. She also had a minor part in a TV movie, A Pattern of Roses in 1983. Her first starring role was in Lady Jane in 1984, which received mix reviews. She played the Queen of England when she was cast as Anne Boleyn in the ITV1 mini-series, Henry VIII. She was restricted in acting since she was pregnant with her first child at the time of filming.

Her breakthrough performance was in A Room with a View in 1985, when she played Lucy Honeychurch. Carter also appeared in episodes of Miami Vice as Don Johnson's love interest during the 1986-87 season. She auditioned for the role of Nancy Spungen in Sid and Nancy in 1986, but lost the role to Chloe Webb. These early roles led her to be typecast as a "corset queen", and "English rose." She expanded her acting range in more recent movies like Fight Club, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Big Fish, and Sweeney Todd.

Bonham Carter played Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2. She received good reviews as Lestrange, as she was described as a "shining but underused talent."[8][9] She then played Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, which was also released in 2007.[10]

In May of 2006, Bonham Carter launched her own fashion line called, "The Pantaloonies," with swimwear designer Samantha Sage. The first collection is called "Bloomin' Bloomers" and is a Victorian style selection of camisoles, mop caps and bloomers. The two are now working on Pantaloonies customized jeans which Carter describes as "a kind of scrapbook on the bum."[11]

Carter plans 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 was set to open in November of 2004 but was postponed. In September 2008, Wild Target director, Johnathan Lynn, confirmed that Carter had dropped out of his movie due to filming difficulties. He then went on to say that she had joined the cast of Tim Burton's 2010 movie, Alice in Wonderland, where she portrayed the Red Queen. In that movie, she starred with actors Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Christopher Lee, and Alan Rickman (who also co-starred in the Harry Potter films with her). Bonham Carter and Hathaway played two dueling sisters, the Red and White Queens.

In early 2009, Bonham Carter was named on of The Times newspaper's top 10 British Actresses of all-time. She appeared on the list with fellow British actresses Julie Andrews, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, and Audrey Hepburn.

Bonham Carter played well-known author Enid Blyton in the BBC4 TV biography movie, Enid, showing the author's life. This movie aired on 16 November 2009. Carter starred with Matthew Macfadyen and Denis Lawson.

Personal life

Bonham Carter at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, promoting Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

In October of 2001, Bonham Carter began her current relationship with director Tim Burton. She met Burton while he was engaged to and living with actress Lisa Marie. Bonham Carter and Burton met while filming Planet of the Apes. Burton tends to cast Bonham Carter in many of his movies. The couple lives in Belsize Park, London, England, in next-door houses with a hallway connecting the two homes. Each house is decorated to fit their own tastes and personality, because they felt the could not live 'together' but did not want to live apart.

They purchased the house when Bonham Carter became pregnant with the couple's first child, a son named Billy Ray Burton, who was born on 4 October 2003.[12] The couple maintain a close relationship with actor Johnny Depp, who also regularly appears in Burton's movies. Depp is Billy Ray's godfather. At the age of 41, Bonham Carter gave birth to the couple's second child, a daughter named Nell Burton, who was born on 15 December 2007 in Central London.[13] Bonham Carter says she named her daughter Nell after all the "Helens" in her family's past.[13][14]

In 2008, four of her relatives were killed in a safari bus crash in South Africa. She was given indefinite leave from filming Terminator Salvation, and returned later to complete the rest of the filming. Also in 2008, Carter and Burton both put up their American apartments for sale. The apartments are located in the Greenwich Village in New York City. The apartments were sold for $8.75 million.

In October of 2008, it was released that Bonham Carter had become a patron of the charity, "Action Duchenne"[15] the national charity established to support parents and sufferers of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. She released the statement:

As a patron of Action Duchenne, I would like to urge as many people as possible to find out about the work of the charity and the devastating effects of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Treatments and a cure seem tantalisingly close but they will not appear without further support and funding. Please join Action Duchenne in helping to make muscle wasting history.

In December of 2008, Bonham Carter used her voice in a MTV domestic violence public service announcement (PSA), reciting a passage about love from the book of Corinthians in the Bible. The 60-second commercial features a troubled couple in a domestic environment. The commercial is silent except for Carter's voice and accompanying music. She recorded her voice in a single take for the ad, which aired on 2 December 2008 on MTV in the UK and Europe as a part of MTV's Staying Alive campaign. MTV will also make the ad available online, and is considering playing it in movie theaters.

In early 2009, Bonham Carter joined fellow actors Ewan McGregor, Kate Winslet, Liam Neeson, Helen Mirren and others, in leaving an imprint of her lips on a card and signing it. The kiss prints, which were featured in the window of Newcastle's Fenwick store, will be auctioned off for a charity.

In 2019, Bonham Carter began dating academic Rye Dag Holmboe




Year Title Role Notes
1983 A Pattern of Roses Netty
1985 A Room with a View Lucy Honeychurch
1986 Lady Jane Lady Jane Grey
1987 Maurice Lady at Cricket Match Cameo
A Hazard of Hearts Serena Staverley
1988 The Mask Iris
Six Minutes with Ludwig The Star
1989 Francesco Chiara Offreduccio
Getting It Right Lady Minerva Munday
1990 Hamlet Ophelia
The 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
1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Elizabeth Frankenstein
Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald Marina Oswald
Butter Dorothy Short film
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
Portraits chinois Ada French-language role
1997 The Wings of the Dove Kate Croy
Keep the Aspidistra Flying Rosemary
The Petticoat Expeditions Narrator (voice)
1998 Sweet Revenge Karen Knightly Also known as The Revengers' Comedies
The Theory of Flight Jane Thatchard
1999 Carnivale Milly (voice)
Fight Club Marla Singer
Women Talking Dirty Cora
The Nearly Complete and Utter History of Everything Lily
2001 Planet of the Apes Ari
Novocaine Susan Ivey
Football Mum Short film
2002 The 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 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Mrs. Bucket
Conversations with Other Women Woman
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Lady Tottington (voice)
Corpse Bride Emily, the Corpse Bride (voice)
2006 Sixty Six Esther Reubens
2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Mrs. Lovett
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Bellatrix Lestrange
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Bellatrix Lestrange
Terminator Salvation Dr. Serena Kogan / Skynet
The Gruffalo Mother Squirrel (voice) Short film
2010 Alice in Wonderland Red Queen / Iracebeth of Crims
The 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
The 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
Suffragette Edith Ellyn
2016 Alice Through the Looking Glass Red Queen / Iracebeth of Crims
2017 Poles Apart Nanuk (voice) Short film
55 Steps Eleanor Riese
2018 Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero Margaret Conroy (voice)
Ocean's 8 Rose Weil
2020 Dragonheart: Vengeance Siveth (voice) Direct-to-video
Tintoretto: A Rebel in Venice Narrator Documentary film
Enola Holmes Eudoria Holmes
2022 The House Jen (voice)
Enola Holmes 2 Eudoria Holmes
Three Minutes: A Lengthening Narrator

TV shows

Year Show Role Other notes
1987 Miami Vice Dr. Theresa Lyons Two Episodes — Theresa & Savage
1991 Jackanory Reader Five Episodes — The Way to Sattin Shore (1–5)
1994 Absolutely Fabulous Dream Saffron One Episode — Hospital
1996 The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century Vera Brittain Unknown Episodes
2011 Life's Too Short Herself Cameo
2016 Love Nina Georgia 5 episodes
2019 The Crown Margaret
2021 The Cleaner Sheila 1 Episode
2022 Harry Potter 20th Anniversary Herself Documentary

Stage productions and radio shows

Year Production Role Other notes
1985 The Reluctant Debutante Unknown Performed on BBC Radio 4
1987 The Tempest Unknown Performed at Oxford Playhouse
1988 The Woman in White Laura Fairlie Performed at Greenwich Theatre, London
1989 The Happiest of All Princesses Unknown Performed on BBC Radio 4
The Chalk Garden Unknown Performed at Windsor/Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
1991 The House of Bernarda Alba Magdalena Performed at Nottingham Playhouse
1992 The Barber of Seville Rosina Performed at Palace Theatre, Watford
Trelawney of the Wells Imogen Parrot Performed at Comedy Theatre, London
1993 The Secret Garden Narrator by Frances Burnett
The Whales' Song Narrator by Dyan Sheldon
1994 The Seagull Nina Mikhailovna Zarechnaya Performed on BBC Radio 4
A Dog So Small Narrator by Philippa Pearce
The Way to Sattin Shore Narrator by Philippa Pearce
1995 Song of Love Unknown Performed on BBC Radio 4
Remember Me Narrator
1996 I Capture the Castle Rose Performed on BBC Radio 4
1997 A House by the Sea Unknown Performed on BBC Radio 4
The Diary of Anne Frank Narrator
1998 Lantern Slides Violet Bonham Carter Performed on BBC Radio 4
2000 As You Like It Rosalind Performed on BBC Radio 4
2004 The Rubenstein Kiss Unknown Postponed
2010 Private Lives Amanda Performed on BBC Radio 4[16]

Video games

Year Game Role Other notes
2005 Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Lady Campanula Tottington
2008 Fable II Daphne / Kamilla


  1. "No. 60009". The London Gazette (invalid |supp= (help)). 31 December 2011.
  2. Neville, Simon (31 December 2011). "Queen Mother film role lands Helena Bonham Carter a gong as she is made a CBE". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  3. "Helena Bonham Carter". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2007.
  4. The Scotsman, 23 July 2005, Gillian Welsh, "Scruffs up nicely"
  5. "'English rose' blossoms into other roles," Liam Lacey, 18 January 1996, The Globe and Mail, D1
  6. "How Helena Grew Up In a Violet Shadow," Valerie Grove, The Times, 10 May 1996
  7. "Zen and the inner ape". The Daily Telegraph. London. 2 August 2001. Retrieved 19 January 2008.[permanent dead link]
  8. Lewis, Leo (28 June 2007). "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: the first review". The Times. London. Retrieved 13 July 2007.
  9. Daly, Steve (13 July 2007). "Helena Bonham Carter Gets Wicked". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 3 September 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2007.
  10. "Helena Bonham Carter Set to Play Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd Film". Broadway.com. 18 October 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2007.
  11. Betts, Hannah (22 April 2006). "English eccentric". The Times. UK. Retrieved 29 June 2009.
  12. "Helena Bonham Carter- Biography". Yahoo.com. Retrieved 7 May 2012
  13. 13.0 13.1 Norman, Pete (7 August 2008). "Helena Bonham Carter Reveals Her 7-Month-Old's Name". People. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  14. "Helena Bonham Carter Releases Daughter's Name". Jewish Journal. 30 July 2008. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2012.
  15. "Action Duchenne patron honoured with CBE" Archived 2012-02-12 at the Wayback Machine. Action Duchenne. Retrieved 7 May 2012
  16. "Private Lives". BBC. Retrieved 5 October 2010.