Celebrities in Classics – Helena Bonham Carter

CelebClassicsButtonWHO IS IT? I haven’t followed the career of Helena Bonham Carter very closely over the years, but I always had it in my mind she was a great actress and had starred in many Merchant and Ivory-type movies. With the upcoming release of Mike Newell’s Great Expectations, I thought I would profile Helena as she plays the always iconic Miss Havisham in the movie. To my surprise, Helena has an astonishing filmography of classic book adaptations. It makes me feel as if I need to catch up on some of her work.

WHAT’S SO FASCINATING? Helena has always struck me as being very bold, extremely quirky in her style, and definitely not afraid to take on weird, unconventional projects. She always looks disheveled and incredibly bored in photos and yet still elegant and beautiful. She and director/husband, Tim Burton (a bit of a character himself) seem like a match-made in heaven.

FIRST ENCOUNTER: I actually first encountered Helena in movie trailers for A Room With A View (which looked fantastic to 10-year old me), but I never saw her in a movie until Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I want to give a special mention to a Canadian movie called Margaret’s Museum in which Helena starred as Margaret, a young girl who is plagued by death in a small Cape Breton mining town. I was moved by both Helena’s performance and the story.


1985 – A Room with a View ~ Lucy Honeychurch
1987 – Maurice ~ Lady at Cricket Match
1989 – Francesco ~ Chiara Offreduccio
1990 – Hamlet ~ Ophelia
1991 – Where Angels Fear to Tread – Caroline Abbott
1992 – Howards End ~ Helen Schlegel
1994 – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein ~ Elizabeth Frankenstein
1994 – A Dark-Adapted Eye ~ Faith Severn (adult)
1995 – Mighty Aphrodite ~ Amanda Weinrib
1996 – Twelfth Night: Or What You Will ~ Olivia
1997 – The Wings of the Dove ~ Kate Croy
1999 – Fight Club ~ Marla Singer
2003 – Henry VIII ~ Anne Boleyn
2004 – Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events ~ Beatrice Baudelaire
2005 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ~ Mrs. Bucket
2007 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ~ Bellatrix Lestrange
2009 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ~ Bellatrix Lestrange
2010 – Alice in Wonderland ~ The Red Queen
2010 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 ~ Bellatrix Lestrange
2011 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ~ Bellatrix Lestrange
2012 – Great Expectations ~ Miss Havisham
2012 – Les Misérables ~ Mme. Thénardier

See Helena’s entire filmography on Wikipedia.

GREAT QUOTE: “Literary adaptations are sort of the whole industry in England … You either get put into films of novels, or you get adopted by the Ken Loachs or the Mike Leighs. That’s pretty much the range of the films we produce. I get a new project and I think – been there, done that. But if you look beyond the costumes, they do come from great authors, and the characters are subtly drawn and three-dimensional, and women tend to be the protagonists in period costume dramas. They offer a better stock of female parts than contemporary screenplays.


2 comments on “Celebrities in Classics – Helena Bonham Carter

  1. lauratfrey
    November 16, 2013

    Marla Singer!!! I used a picture of her as my avitar in the early 2000s… sometimes here, sometimes Diane from Trainspotting… ha.

    And I did not know there was an 80s adaptation of Room with a View. I may have to check that out.


    • ebookclassics
      November 18, 2013

      I love Marla Singer too! She was so bad assed and the perfect foil for Edward Norton’s character. I still haven’t seen A Room With A View after all this time …


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