Helena Bonham Carter is known for playing Princess Margaret on The Crown and Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series. She has appeared in films like The King’s Speech, Fight Club, Les Misérables, Cinderella, and Ocean’s 8. She has also worked on numerous movies by Tim Burton, such as Big Fish, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Alice in Wonderland. Additionally, she shares two children with Burton: Son, Billy Raymond Burton, born in 2003, and daughter, Nell Burton, born in 2007 (via IMDb).
Over the years, Bonham Carter has been recognized for her acting, with awards from associations such as the National Society of Film Critics and the Screen Actors Guild (via Fandango). Many are familiar with her roles, and true fans know about her romantic relationships and children. Still, there is much more to discover, so keep reading to learn some lesser-known facts about this fashionable and talented star!
Struggles faced by Helena Bonham Carter's parents actually helped her with her acting
This star’s parents dealt with some mental and physical health issues, according to facts from her past via PeoplePill. When Bonham Carter was five years old, her mother, Elena Propper de Callejón, suffered a nervous breakdown. It took her three years to recover, and, afterwards, she decided to become a psychotherapist. Now, Bonham Carter pays her mother to read her scripts and give opinions on the psychological behavior of her characters.
Five years after Callejón recovered from the nervous breakdown, Bonham Carter’s father, Raymond Bonham Carter, was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma. He had an operation to remove a tumor, but there were complications. He suffered a stroke, was half-paralyzed, and passed away in January 2004. When Bonham Carter was working on The Theory of Flight in 1998, she studied her father’s movements and mannerisms, in order to play Jane Hatchard, a character in a wheelchair and with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Helena Bonham Carter had no formal acting training
In the world of acting, it is normal for celebrities to have grown up participating in theater, to have backgrounds in modeling, and/or to have attended schools that focus on this art. Despite Bonham Carter’s skills and successes, though, she never received formal training.
Instead, she entered and won a national writing contest and used the money to pay for a spot in an actors’ spotlight directory. “I just went and got an agent, because I thought I can create my own world,” she is quoted saying on The 8 Percent‘s website. “You can’t write your own life, but you can escape to a world where you can have control.”
When she was 16, she landed her first professional gig in a TV commercial, followed by a small role in a television film called A Pattern of Roses, which centered around a ghost story and which came out in 1983.
Helena Bonham Carter is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Some people may have noticed the letters “CBE” written out after Bonham Carter’s name. This means that she is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire! It is the highest-ranking order of the British Empire award (via The Gazette). Bonham Carter earned the New Year Honour from Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 (Bonham Carter played Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in The King’s Speech), for her services to drama (via Town & Country).
As reported by the BBC, she was thrilled, but wasn’t sure she deserved it. “I always thought my father deserved a medal for facing 25 years of chronic disability with quiet daily heroism, so I am delighted to accept such a wonderful honor in his memory.” She also joked about wondering if this new title meant she would get to be in command. “Because, at the moment, it’s my four-year-old daughter who does the commanding in our household. Must inform her of the change in situation.”
Helena Bonham Carter was not a fan of being typecast as an English rose
In 1985, Bonham Carter portrayed Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View, followed by the title character in Lady Jane, which was released in 1986. Since then, she has appeared in other early period roles, such as playing Princess Margaret on The Crown. Due to the similarity in some of her characters, she was typecast as a virginal English rose and an Edwardian corset queen — something with which she was not comfortable, as stated by The Times.
She obviously can pull off this type of role quite well, and it is easy to picture her in this time period and in these clothing styles. But, of course, she has portrayed an array of other characters throughout her career, such as Marina Oswald in Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald (1994), Marla Singer in Fight (1999), Dr. Serena Kogan in Terminator Salvation (2009), and Rose Weil in Ocean’s 8 (2018).
Helena Bonham Carter has an impressive family tree
A final set of facts that some may not know about Bonham Carter has to do with her genealogy and ancestors. The actress’ paternal grandparents were politicians Sir Maurice Bonham-Carter and Lady Violet Bonham Carter, and her paternal great-grandfather was H. H. Asquith, the First Earl of Oxford and Asquith and the Prime Minister of Britain from 1908 to 1916 (via National Portrait Gallery). Her maternal grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, was a Spanish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust (via Jewish Telegraphic Agency).
Additionally, she is the great-niece of Anthony Asquith, who directed movies, including the adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest from 1952 (via IMDb). She is first cousins with the economist, Adam Ridley, and the politician, Jane Bonham Carter (via StarsUnfolded). She is also related to the cricket player, Lothian Bonham Carter, and to the well-known and historical nurse, Florence Nightingale (via Internet Archive).
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