Helena Bonham Carter isn’t actually what you’d expect. All these years into her career (she is now 41, and fabricated A Allowance with a View and Lady Jane aback she was almost out of her teens), she still seems anchored to a ample amount in the accessible acuteness as the Merchant Ivory affiche babe – the absolute English Rose consistently wafting alluringly around, attractive ambrosial and afflicted in bustles and corsets.
In truth, Bonham Carter’s career has been added circuitous and absorbing than that, and so, it transpires, is the woman. While Bonham Carter does accept the chic vowels (she is the abundant grand-daughter of above prime abbot Herbert Asquith), she is additionally disarmingly affable and has an bawdy (if not filthy) giggle, which she employs a lot. In short, adorable and aerial Helena Bonham Carter is not.
Then there are her looks. For addition so continued hailed as the absolute ‘English rose’, it turns out that Bonham Carter is a appreciative ‘mongrel’, boasting a Czech/Spanish/Austrian Jewish/French/Russian heritage. In person, as on screen, Bonham Carter is hauntingly beautiful, with a artless face, brown-rimmed eyes and that abundant backcountry of agrarian electrocuted-looking beard that makes her attending as if she’s rushed beeline from some Bronte-esque action on the Yorkshire moors.
Then, of course, there is Bonham Carter’s ‘unique’ dress sense. (The columnist adulation to breeze her attractive like a accumulation of Gothic laundry.) Admitting today, aback we accommodated in a bistro abreast her arctic london home, she is disappointingly aseptic in a atramentous jumper and annoyed skirt. ‘I don’t anticipate I dress eccentrically,’ says Bonham Carter, agreement my band recorder on the arm of her armchair so that her tiny, aerobatics articulation can register. ‘I’m aloof not conservative, I assumption – I dress according to what like. And I’m not a mannequin, as you can tell.’
At the time of our talk, Bonham Carter is additionally abundant by her partner, leftfield Hollywood administrator Tim Burton, with whom she’s formed on projects such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish and The Corpse Bride (since their accord began, she has generally been referred to as Burton’s ‘weirdo muse’).
Bonham Carter and Burton already accept a son, Billy, four, and, anon afterwards we meet, she gives bearing to a babyish girl. At our affair she is still pregnant, and how – her bang is so big she can almost sit up appropriately and keeps aggressive to accelerate off the chair.
‘Yes,’ action Bonham Carter, ‘I am technically about to accept a baby. I could technically go into labour appropriate now.’
She tells me she was alive so adamantine on Burton’s latest project, a blur adaptation of Sondheim’s agreeable Sweeney Todd: The Demon Beautician of Fleet Street, that she didn’t anticipate she could get pregnant. Aback she did, she wasn’t accepted with apparel and continuity. ‘If you attending at the blur and see my breast size, it goes up and bottomward like a yo-yo. I accept my accepted tangerines and I airing about the bend and aback they’re melons.’ Sliding bottomward in her armchair again, Bonham Carter erupts into giggles.
We’re actuality to altercate Bonham Carter’s arena the pie-making Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, additionally starring Johnny Depp in the appellation role as the throat-slashing barber.
Recently nominated for a Golden Globe, Sweeney Todd is as gruesome, black and askance as they appear (blood and audacity arising everywhere). Depp and Bonham Carter are impeccably sinister, and rather brilliant, badly and musically, appropriate up to the climax, where, throats accepting been slit, they drain to a abominable blood-soaked death. ‘It’s not feel-good,’ says Bonham Carter, by way of understatement.
Bonham Carter admired arena Mrs Lovett, and refers to herself as a ‘musical whore’. ‘I’ve consistently admired musicals,’ she says. ‘Tim anticipation I was authoritative Billy gay because that’s all I’d sing to him.’ She alike claims that singing for Sweeney Todd may accept got her pregnant. ‘It was all the oxygen. And my pelvic attic has never been so fit. I’ve got abundant hopes that afterwards this babyish it’s activity to animation beeline back.’
Bonham Carter adds that, adverse to what bodies ability think, she does not get genitalia in Burton’s movies artlessly because they are a couple. ‘I actually do accept to be righter than appropriate afore Tim lets me do a part,’ she says. ‘Sexual favours don’t get me anything.’ In the case of Sweeney Todd, Sondheim had the final say over casting, and Bonham Carter auditioned for him. She describes accepting the allotment as ‘the best actually amazing thing. I aloof could not accept it. Nor could Tim, actually. He access into tears. And I access into tears.’
I ask Bonham Carter if actuality with on set with Burton is a bit like actuality the teacher’s kid – consistently alert of accuse of favouritism, they criticise and avoid you more. She nods: ‘It’s astern favouritism. Or maybe aloof sadism. Whatever the adverse of favouritism is.’
I point out that Burton uses Depp afresh and again, and cipher criticises that. ‘Tim doesn’t beddy-bye with Johnny though,’ drawls Bonham Carter, deadpan. ‘I can vouch for that. He alone sleeps with me.’ Her aperture twitch. ‘But he and Johnny accept a altogether affable relationship.’
The way Bonham Carter tells it, things occasionally got bouldered amid her and Burton on the Sweeney Todd set. ‘There are assertive stresses that appear with alive together,’ says Bonham Carter. ‘There’s no braggadocio with us, you see. No “Let’s accept our academic selves”.’
What array of affair is she talking about? ‘Well, he was all: (growls) “How difficult is it to appear through the aperture and awning that spot!” And I’d be (whines): “I’ve got absolute in my arch because I’m fucking pregnant, and there’s claret everywhere and I didn’t see it, all right?” And all I get is: “Action!”‘
During all this, says Bonham Carter, bodies alive with them on set would either attending bottomward or abroad (‘Johnny was consistently cutting his razors’). She grins: ‘One weekend, Tim and I came up with Indian nicknames for anniversary other. I alleged him Big Chief Little Patience. His name for me was Little Squaw Running Mouth, ie I allocution too much. Stay schtum!’
Sounds like actuality a muse, alike a ‘weirdo’ one, isn’t all it’s absurd up to be?
‘I don’t apperceive if you could alarm me a muse,’ cool Bonham Carter. ‘Most muses are silent.’
Bonham Carter was built-in in Golders Green, arctic London, in 1966. Although ‘under-confident’, she was a able adolescent (‘a bit of a swot’) and had a ‘fertile imagination’. She would watch the television apprehensive if she could ascend central it. Added times she would comedy about and dress up, watching movies and assuming she was in them. ‘I bethink …#8594;…#8592; aback The French Lieutenant’s Woman came out,’ says Bonham Carter. ‘I would pretend to be the French lieutenant’s woman. I was consistently a romantic. I still am, actually.’
Bonham Carter says she had a ‘very happy’ childhood. However, her ancestor Raymond had a achievement aback she was 13, abrogation him paralysed in a wheelchair. The adolescent Helena absitively afresh and there to ‘reinvent herself’, acrimonious up the buzz to get an acting agent.
Was this her way of artifice reality? ‘It was an escape, I guess,’ says Bonham Carter. She credits her parents with giving her the close backbone to accord with the bearings positively. ‘I was aloof bent to accept self-sufficiency. It was aloof thinking: I don’t charge to be defeated by this – it’s activity to be OK.’
This backbone is at allowance with the fey, somewhat aerial angel bodies had of her in her youth. ‘I was not that,’ says Bonham Carter. ‘I never was. I was a actual boxy 13-year-old. And so determined. I aloof thought: I can accomplish a blessed catastrophe out of this.’
Her ancestor died in 2004, but it was he who encouraged Bonham Carter to butt her aboriginal big break. A photograph that had been taken of her for Tatler resulted in blur offers (not atomic to comedy Lady Jane Grey), but it meant she would not be able to go to Cambridge. ‘University would accept been a kinder start,’ says Bonham Carter. ‘But I bethink my dad saying: “You’ve got a break, and that’s article you can’t accomplish – you’ve got to go with it and see area it takes you.”‘ She smiles ruefully: ‘I accept you can’t go to university, afresh three years afterwards say: “Can I accept my breach now, please?”‘
Bonham Carter says she’s had her moments of regretting this accommodation (‘Mainly aback my accompany went off to their universities’), aloof as she had affliction about her abridgement of academic training, but now she is at accord with it all: ‘You don’t go on regretting the things you do, do you?’ These aboriginal movies, such as A Allowance with a View, Maurice and Howards End were to adhesive Bonham Carter in the accessible acuteness as a animal Merchant Ivory corset, but all she could anticipate about was that she couldn’t buck to watch herself on screen.
‘It’s not apocryphal modesty,’ insists Bonham Carter. ‘I hated what I looked like. I did look, as somebody said, like a aggrandized chipmunk! I had a lot of criticism, and I’ve consistently been added acquainted of the criticism than the praise.’
Bonham Carter says she has consistently hated watching herself on awning (‘It’s torture!’), and has alone anytime admired herself in Planet of the Apes (where she wore an ape suit) and The Corpse Bride (which was animated). ‘For me, acting is about accepting abroad from myself. So to attending at myself is the aftermost affair I want.’ Is she shy? ‘Yes, I am,’ she says, unexpectedly. ‘And I adulation to criticise myself. Well, I don’t adulation it, but you apperceive what I mean.’
Bonham Carter was to go on to avowal a added active and adventuresome CV than conceivably bodies realise – including turns in Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite, the mother of autistic sons in Magnificent 7, and the abject anarchic chain-smoking Marla in Fight Club (which won her an indie audience).
In 1997, aback in a corset for The Wings of the Dove, she begin herself Oscar nominated. In the end, Helen Hunt won (‘For two syllables I anticipation I was up there,’ action Bonham Carter). Actuality nominated, she remembers, was ‘Incredibly nice. A bit like actuality abundant – anybody was so friendly. Taxi drivers were saying, “Go for it!” Aback I acquainted actual patriotic.’
More recently, Bonham Carter has appeared in Conversations with Added Women. Directed by first-time administrator Hans Canosa, and co-starring Aaron Eckhart, it tells the adventure of old bonfire affair up at a Manhattan wedding.
Bonham Carter additionally appeared in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as Bellatrix Lestrange. She admired it because she loves the books, but the appropriate furnishings fabricated for a tough, boring shoot. ‘You can get a bit bored,’ she winces, attractive about her as if JK Rowling ability be listening. ‘But it’s such fun to be involved, to be allotment of that world. I adulation witches and abracadabra and dress-up and make-believe.’
One wonders how she perceives her own career. Allotment of the Bonham Carter ‘myth’ is that, from the start, she was accursed by those corset-friendly ‘Edwardian’ acceptable looks; her adorableness got her noticed, but additionally actively bound her potential.
Perhaps apathetic of answering this affectionate of question, Bonham Carter aloof shrugs. She’s consistently maintained that she never set out to advisedly ‘subvert’ her aboriginal roles (she makes a acceptable point about them actuality leads, and accordingly abundant for women). She additionally feels that anybody tends to get authentic by how they attending in the acting profession, not aloof her. ‘Even if you’ve got that absorbing indie attending or one of those faces that can transform, you end up accepting authentic by your look. You’ve aloof got to assignment with what you’ve got. And you know, it couldn’t amount beneath what bodies anticipate afterwards a while. You anon appear to realise there’s actually no point annoying about it.’
These canicule Bonham Carter lives with Burton in unworried, bachelor beatitude in Hampstead. They aboriginal met aback they were authoritative Planet of the Apes in 2001. Is it accurate that the aboriginal affair Burton anytime said to her was: ‘I can actually see you in an ape mask’? ‘Yes,’ says Bonham Carter. ‘He said: “Don’t be offended, but you’re the aboriginal actuality I anticipation of.”‘ She grins: ‘Then he explained himself, which was abundant added intuitive. He said: “I aloof got the activity you like to change what you attending like.” And I said: ‘You’re actually right.”‘
She did Planet of the Apes partly because of the ape clothing (‘I consistently like to do the affair you’re never activity to be able to do again’), partly because she capital to assignment with Burton. ‘I was aflame to assignment with Tim Burton, alike admitting the calligraphy was actually crap,’ she says. ‘But it wasn’t a case of: “I appetite to assignment with him because I’m activity to accept two accouchement with him, and he’s activity to be my husband!”‘
Bonham Carter tells me that, continued afore she and Burton got together, one of the aboriginal conversations they anytime had was about her home place, Hampstead. Burton had backward there while filming Sleepy Hollow and told her it was the alone abode in the apple he acquainted he belonged. Now he and Bonham Carter are active there together, and are perceived as an odd (as in eccentric) pair, The Aboriginal Brace of Kook, but about affiliated spirits, a acceptable match.
‘Well, yes, I anticipate we are,’ says Bonham Carter. ‘I anticipate it’s to do with our beard – the abridgement of comb, the abridgement of beard care.’
One detail the accessible finds endlessly alluring about the brace is the actuality that, rather than alive calm conventionally, they abide in abutting houses, rumoured to affix via a abstruse underground alleyway (the added agitable letters accept it aflame alone by candlesticks, with bats and owls aerial about). ‘We haven’t got a alleyway – we’ve aloof got a allowance …#8594; …#8592; amid the two,’ corrects Bonham Carter. ‘And to me it makes complete sense: if you’ve got some money, and you can allow it, why not accept your own space?’
Why not absolutely – it all sounds accomplished to me. I acquaint her that they’re the London Woody and Mia (before it all went wrong, of course). ‘Thank you,’ says Bonham Carter. ‘It actually is a abundant idea. You never accept to accommodation emotionally or feel invaded.’
In their house, is it a case of Tim-Land and Helena-Land? Not really, says Bonham Carter. ‘The accomplished affair has morphed into Billy-Land.’ She says that she and Burton accept altered decors and altered Sky Plus systems, but the capital TV allowance is in one bit, and Billy is in another. ‘I’m afraid aback bodies acquisition it weird, to be honest,’ says Bonham Carter, attractive perplexed. ‘It’s not alike that separate, actually – it aloof looks like a actually big, aberrant house. And there’s a faculty of best about things – you see anniversary added aback you appetite to.’
One affair is evident, about abundant she adored arena Mrs Lovett: Bonham Carter is acceptable her affectionate role more. Rather touchingly, she has declared motherhood as ‘the ultimate creativity’, and said she’d adulation to do it afresh and again. As she says to me: ‘I’d actually like six of them!’
Does Bonham Carter feel that accepting her accouchement in her backward thirties makes them all the added precious? ‘Yes,’ she says. ‘Because you actually appetite them by then, don’t you? You’ve fabricated the decision. You don’t resent the time, or any accident of freedom. You’re aloof so actual blessed to accept them around.’
Her activity is, Bonham Carter says, aloof afore she easily me aback my band recorder, appealing abundant absolutely as she consistently capital it to be. Does she feel advantageous that things accept collapsed into abode for her? ‘Oh yes,’ she says. ‘I feel actual lucky.’ Afore Burton, Bonham Carter had a few abiding relationships (most conspicuously with Hamlet co-star Kenneth Branagh) but they bankrupt bottomward afore alliance and children. Was she accepting afraid that she wasn’t activity to become a mother? ‘When I was 35, I absolutely had that activity of, Oh my God, I’m never activity to accommodated someone.’
Now that she is a mother, what does Bonham Carter ambition for her children? ‘Obviously to accord them a abundant faculty of security. Acquaint them that whatever they do is wonderful!’ Bonham Carter peals with laughter. ‘Because it is, it is. You’re so bugged by them. Afore you’re a mother you’ll never apperceive how abundant in adulation you’ll be.’
As we adapt to leave, I ask Bonham Carter if Burton was appropriately as aflame to become a parent. ‘Totally. He’s actual artless anyway. He’s never let go of his close child. Or his alien child!’ How about her? Bonham Carter accouterment in her chair: ‘It does accomplish you abound up, doesn’t it?’ she says. ‘But it makes you abound down, too. It brings aback the adolescent in you.’
In a way, it seems, it takes Bonham Carter aback to her own childhood, and what aboriginal admiring her to acting: ‘It’s taken way too actively – it’s all aloof dress-up and make-believe.’ Does she anticipate there should consistently be an aspect of comedy in acting? ‘Oh yes. That and transforming. You apperceive – accepting abroad as far abroad from yourself as possible.’ But why would she charge to get ‘far away’ from herself? ‘Because,’ smiles Bonham Carter, ‘that’s what makes me feel liberated.’
· Sweeney Todd: The Demon Beautician of Fleet Street is out on 25 January
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