Numerous accolades, prizes, and recognition dot Helena Bonham Carter’s career. Over the years, she’s starred in period dramas, high fantasy flicks, and wacky musicals–and she hows no signs of stopping any time soon. Here are 24 quirky facts about the amazingly talented Helena Bonham Carter.
Helena Bonham Carter Facts
1. Rich Heritage
Helena Bonham Carter comes from a quite well-respected family stock in Britain. Her great-grandfather was former British Prime Minister H.H. Asquith and her great-grandmother was an activist. At one point, she and Winston Churchill were an item. They even got engaged!
Bonham Carter originally wanted to pursue her academics at King’s College, Cambridge University. She had the grades and test scores to get in, but the administration worried that she’d drop out to pursue her acting career. They rejected her, leading Bonham Carter to pursue acting full time. Thankfully, it worked out.
3. Tragedy Strikes
While filming Terminator: Salvation, Bonham Carter had to take a leave of absence after tragedy struck. While on holiday in South Africa, a minibus accident claimed the lives of four of her relatives. Her cousin Fiona escaped with a few broken bones, but the rest of her family all passed.
4. Someone Over the Rainbow
Bonham Carter based her performance of Marla Singer in David Fincher’s Fight Club off of Judy Garland. She took inspiration from Garland’s final years. To help her stay in character, Fincher often called her Judy on set.
5. All for Not
While filming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Bonham Carter trained for three full weeks in preparation for a fight she was meant to have with Gary Oldman. Sadly, the fight between Bellatrix Lestrange and Sirius Black was eventually cut from the final film.
6. Flashing Those Pearly Whites
In ten different films, Bonham Carter wears fake teeth. These films include the Harry Potter films, Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, Cinderella, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Great Expectations.
7. Getting Into Character
When preparing for her role as Mrs. Lovett in Tim Burton’s adaptation of the musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Bonham Carter took vocal lessons and studied baking. I hope the treats she learned to bake were very different from the ones in the film…
8. Independent Space
Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton began to see each other after filming Planet of the Apes. However, Bonham Carter didn’t end up moving in with her partner. Instead, Burton bought two houses right next door to each other so that they could continue to enjoy their own separate spaces.
9. Noble Ancestry
Bonham Carter’s maternal grandfather was a Spanish diplomat named Eduardo Propper de Callejon. During WWII, he helped thousands of Jews escape to safety.
10. Playing to the Past
In The King’s Speech, Bonham Carter plays Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Her character has a number of conversations with Winston Churchill as played by Timothy Spall. Bonham Carter’s grandmother, Violet Bonham Carter, was once engaged to Winston Churchill.
11. Graft for the Craft
Bonham Carter entered the actors’ Spotlight directory using money that she won from a national writing contest. With no formal training, she won her first role at the age of 16. It was a part in a television commercial.
12. Breakout Performance
Bonham Carter’s first lead role came as Lady Jane Grey in Lady Jane. However, her major breakthrough came shortly thereafter when she played Lucy Honeychurch in a film adaptation of E.M. Forster’s novel A Room With a View.
13. Vices and Virtues
In the 1986-87 season of the hit American television series Miami Vice, Bonham Carter landed a few guest appearances. She played Don Johnson’s love interest.
14. Uniting the Kingdom
In the summer of 2014, the UK held a referendum on Scottish Independence. Not one to shy away from political matters, Bonham Carter signed an open letter sent to The Guardian Newspaper. It opposed Scottish independence.
15. Getting the Right Effects
Because she felt that Fight Club‘s Marla Singer would not be very good at applying her own makeup, Bonham Carter insisted that the makeup artist apply her eye makeup using only her left hand.
16. Afternoon Delight
Bonham Carter and Brad Pitt spent three whole days recording orgasmic sounds together. It was for the off-camera intimate scene between their characters in Fight Club.
Filmmakers shot the intimate scene between Bonham Carter and Brad Pitt in Fight Club with the same advanced style as The Matrix. During the scene, the actors were both fully clothed. Editors later enhanced their bodies with CGI during post-production.
18. As Luck Would Have It
Bonham Carter almost missed out on the role of Marla Singer for Fight Club. David Fincher wanted her, but the studio wanted a bigger name and opted for Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon turned down the role because it was too dark. After that, Fincher got his wish and Bonham Carter snagged the part.
19. Charity Work
In 2008, Bonham Carter became a patron to Action Duchenne charity. The charity supports those affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The disease is a rare and severe form of muscular dystrophy with a life expectancy of around 26 years of age.
20. High Accolades
In 2012, Bonham Carter received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The merit is only one class below Damehood and is not normally given to performers.
Bonham Carter started her own fashion line in 2006. Alongside swimwear designer Samantha Sage, Bonham Carter started The Pantaloonies, a line which specializes in Victorian style camisoles, mob caps, and bloomers.
22. Next Stop…
2005 saw Bonham Carter lend her voice to two different stop motion animation films. The first was in Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride while the second was for Aardman Studios’ Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
23. En Francais
Bonham Carter is a fluent speaker of the French language. She even starred in a French film. In 1996, she played the lead role in the Martine Dugowson’s romantic drama Portrait Chinois.
24. Oscar Buzz
Bonham Carter’s talents always lend projects a certain amount of buzz and anticipation. And with good reason: so far she’s been part of four Best Picture nominees at the Oscars. These films are A Room With a View, Howard’s End, The King’s Speech, and Les Misérables. Interestingly, only two directors helmed these four movies: James Ivory and Tom Hooper.