The Wings of the Dove
England-born actress Helena Bonham Carter gathered a wealth of critical appreciation and recognition with her starring turn as the conniving Kate Croy in Iain Softley’s The Wings of the Dove (1997), wherein she nabbed countless awards like an Online Film Critics Society award, a Broadcast Film Critics Association, a Toronto Film Critics Association, a Society of Texas Film Critics award, a Boston Society of Film Critics award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association award, a National Board of Review award and a London Critics Circle Film award, as well as received nominations at the Oscars, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes. Two years before, she won a Genie Award for her brilliant portrayal of the foul-mouthed miner’s daughter Margaret MacNeil in the Canadian-produced Margaret’s Museum.
Initially gaining fame for her many stupendous performances in 19th century costume dramas which included A Room with a View (1985), Hamlet (1990), Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991), Howards End (1992), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) and Twelfth Night: Or What You Will (1996), Helena is also memorable for playing Marla Singer in the successful Fight Club (1999, she netted an Empire award), the sympathetic Ari in the blockbuster hit Planet of the Apes (2001) and a downtrodden, yet happy, mother in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). In addition, she did voice-overs for such high-profile animated movies as Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005) and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005).
On the small screen, Helena made a name for herself as a gifted actress with her stunning performances in such movies as Dancing Queen (1993), Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald (1993, received a Golden Globe nomination) and Live from Baghdad (2002, earned an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination).
Helena fans should not miss her performance in the upcoming Sixty Six (2006), Stand by Love (2006, with Eric McCormack) and Shantaram (2007, opposite Johnny Depp and Emily Watson).
“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.” Helena Bonham Carter
On a more personal note, Helena is currently engaged to filmmaker Tim Burton and has one son with him. The couple met while shooting Planet of the Apes (2001) and shortly before the release of the film, Burton ended a long-term relationship with muse Lisa Marie to date Helena. Her personal life has also been linked to director/actor Kenneth Branagh (together 1994-1999), who apparently divorced his wife Emma Thompson for her, and actor Steve Martin. Helena has reportedly flattened Martin’s hopes for marriage when she decided their 21-year age difference was too much and dumped him for Burton.
Poetry Contest Winner
Childhood and Family:
Helena Bonham Carter was born on May 26, 1966, in Golders Green, London, England. Her father is Raymond Bonham Carter, an-ex-merchant banker, and her mother is Elena Bonham Carter, a psychotherapist of Spanish and French descent. Growing up with a difficult childhood, young Helena had to deal with rough life when her mother suffered a nervous breakdown (later to recover) when she was 5 and her dad became ill five years later. Despite this, she hails from the finest stock. Herbert Henry Asquith, Helena’s great-grandfather, was the Liberal Party Prime Minister in England, and her great-uncle, Anthony Asquith, was a renowned director famous for making successful films like Pygmalion (1938), Quiet Wedding (1940), The Browning Version (1950) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). She has two older brothers, Thomas Bonham Carter, a soldier, and Edward Bonham Carter, who follows her dad’s footsteps in becoming a Merchant banker. Helena became the mother of a son named Billy-Ray Burton, born on October 4, 2003, with director-fiancé Tim Burton.
A brilliant and talented teenager, Helena entered a national writing contest and won while at South Hampstead High School. Interested in becoming a performer, she used the prize money to pay for her entry into the actor’s directory “Spotlight,” a casting catalog, and soon hired an agent. By the time she was 16, Helena had received her first professional acting job in a radio commercial for stereo equipment. She was educated at the London’s exclusive Westminster School.
Helena Bonham Carter won a writing competition in her early teens and decided to spend the money on employing a theatrical agent. Three years after the contest, she made her professional acting debut in a commercial and a television role soon followed with a bit part in the forgettable British telefilm A Pattern of Roses (1983). With dark looks and a heart-shaped face, Helena quickly landed her first film lead as the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey in Trevor Nunn’s movie version of the life of the hopeless Tudor monarch Lady Jane (1986). Helena’s breakthrough arrived with her second film, the Merchant-Ivory production of Forster’s A Room With a View (launched earlier in 1985), where she played a young woman swept up in passion. These films led to Helena being stereotype as a “corset queen,” an “English rose” in costume dramas.
After The Vision (1987), Helena, with a perfect American accent, offered a good portrayal of Don Johnson’s drug-addicted fiancée Theresa in two episodes of the NBC popular series “Miami Vice” (1987). The same year, she was also seen as Serena Staverley in CBS’s A Hazard of Hearts and continued to take on roles in such films as The Mask (1988), Francesco (1989) and Getting It Right (1989). Helena was also seen on the stage, making her London stage debut with “The Woman in White” in 1988.
Helena further set her screen persona as a “period player” with her dead-on, mad Ophelia to Mel Gibson’s Hamlet (1990, directed by Franco Zeffirelli), and by portraying the impetuous younger sister of Emma Thompson in Merchant-Ivory’s meticulous rendering of Howards End (1992), where she was nominated for a BAFTA Film award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and as Victor Frankenstein’s lover Elizabeth in Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994). She won praise for playing working-class stripper Pandora/Julie in the British TV-movie Dancing Queen (1993) and was marvelous as Marina Oswald in the NBC TV-movie Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald (1993). For her effort in the latter film, Helena received a nomination at the Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV.
In 1995, Helena earned positive reviews and won a Genie for Best Actress as the blasphemous, married, coal miner’s daughter Margaret MacNeil in the Canadian film Margaret’s Museum. Unfortunately, the film failed to find an audience. 1995 -1996 also saw roles in Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Trevor Nunn’s Twelfth Night: Or What You Will (1996) and Shadow Play (1996). However, it was the Iain Softley-directed The Wings of the Dove (1997) that garnered Helena critical attention and praise. As the scheming Kate Croy, Helena finely walked a line between nervousness and pleasure-seeking. As a result, her creative and thinly adjusted performance handed the actress numerous awards, including an Online Film Critics Society, a Broadcast Film Critics Association, a Toronto Film Critics Association, a Society of Texas Film Critics, a Boston Society of Film Critics, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association, a National Board of Review for Best Actress and a London Critics Circle Film for British Actress of the Year. In addition, the acclaimed performance also netted Helena a Best Actress Oscar nomination, as well as a Screen Actors Guild and a Golden Globe nomination.
Next up for Helena, she costarred as a plain spinster in Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1997), rejoined Branagh for the modern romance Theory of Flight (1998, played a wheelchair-bound woman), was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her scene-stealing role Morgan Le Fey in the made-for-TV film Merlin (1998), teamed up with Sam Neill in the comedy film The Revengers’ Comedies (1998) and starred alongside Gina McKee and Eileen Atkins in the Toronto-screened Women Talking Dirty (1999).
At the end of decade, Helena reached a different and much wider audience when she costarred with Hollywood big names Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in David Fincher’s Fight Club. Leaving behind the petticoats and pretty frocks to portray drug-addled eccentric Marla Singer, Helena was praised by critics and audiences alike and was handed a 2000 Empire for Best British Actress.
Helena was put in a more mainstream audience in 2001 when she landed a high-profile role as the compassionate Ari, the ape daughter of a powerful politician, in the new adaptation of Planet of the Apes, for director Tim Burton. Although her attractive features were hidden under a monkey mask, the actress’s meaningful eyes and plumy voice made her recognizable and Helena once more gave an excellent turn. She then costarred alongside Steve Martin in the comedy Novocaine (2001), played Dinah in Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s The Heart of Me (2002) and was seen as Ruby in the supernatural thriller Till Human Voices Wake Us (2002, with Guy Pearce). She was then nominated for an Emmy and Golden Globe for her good, starring portrayal of Ingrid Formanek in the made-for-television movie Live from Baghdad (2002).
In 2003, Helena’s onscreen partnership with director-lover Tim Burton blossomed when she was cast opposite Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange and Alison Lohman in the appealing drama/fantasy Big Fish. The film was a critical success. Returning to filmmaking after a two-year hiatus, Helena rejoined Burton for his 2005 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, portraying the browbeaten, yet buoyant, mother of the young protagonist Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore). In 2005, the actress was put back into mainstream audiences with the Oscar nominated (for best animated feature film) Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The film was a huge hit, topping the U.S. box office charts. In 2005, she once again provided her voice, this time for the title role in Burton’s animated feature Corpse Bride. Helena was also seen acting on the small screen as Maggi in the made-for-television film Magnificent 7 (2005).
40-year-old Helena will soon star opposite Stephen Greif and Daniel Marks in a biography film by director Paul Weiland titled Sixty Six (2006). She is also set to play roles in the Simon Wells-helmed comedy-romance Stand by Love (2006, with Eric McCormack) and Peter Weir’s action Shantaram (2007, opposite Johnny Depp and Emily Watson).
Empire: Best British Actress, Fight Club, 2000
London Critics Circle Film: British Actress of the Year, The Wings of the Dove, 1999
Online Film Critics Society: Best Actress, The Wings of the Dove, 1998
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Actress, The Wings of the Dove, 1998
Toronto Film Critics Association: Best Performance - Female, 1998
Southeastern Film Critics Associatio: Best Actress, The Wings of the Dove, 1998
Society of Texas Film Critics: Best Actress, The Wings of the Dove, 1997
Boston Society of Film Critics: Best Actress, The Wings of the Dove, 1997
Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actress, The Wings of the Dove, 1997
National Board of Review: Best Actress, The Wings of the Dove, 1997
Genie: Best Actress, Margaret’s Museum, 1995