Helena Bonham Carter is a national treasure, who is a talented actress who can transform into any character she wishes. To celebrate her birthday on the 26th May, I decided to do a top 5 best performances like I usually do, but I have to admit this was a hard one because there are so many excellent performances from Helena! I know that I am going to probably miss some and there might be one or two choices on here that you might disagree with (please feel free to leave a post), but I hope that my reasons why I have picked certain films over others will justify my picks!
Bellatrix, the Harry Potter saga
It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that Helena wasn’t the original choice to play Bellatrix, but joined the project after Helen McCrory dropped out due to pregnancy. I can’t imagine anyone else in this role. Helena Bonham Carter is brilliant, playing the witch with twisted glee, and is perhaps more menacing than Voldemort himself. Bellatrix seems uncontrollable and unpredictable, making her a great threat to our young wizards. Helena uses her facial expressions to great effect, with her wide open eyes and smirk. In a film series with so many characters and actors, performances need to be stand out from the others, and this is what Bonham Carter manages to do.
Lucy, A Room with a View (1985)
Woven round the life of Lucy Honeychurch, this film is set in the early 20th century. It explores the restrictive nature towards women in the Edwardian era, and Lucy’s quest of exploring her feelings and makinh her own choices in life. The first released film of Helena Bonham Carter, it is also studded with Daniel Day-Lewis, Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench. Bonham Carter manages to present us with a character who feels awkward and out of play, simply with small mannerism like how she walks, obviously feeling uncomfortable in her dress. I adore how Bonham Carter plays Lucy as this nervous young woman who is often quite breathless and lost for words, it’s a performance which is just so noteworthy especially seeing as this was one of her first main roles.
Elizabeth Taylor, Burton and Taylor (2013)
This drama tells the story of Hollywood’s most glamorous couple, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who acted together for the last time in Noel Coward’s Private Lives in 1983. When Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton met on the set of Cleopatra, the attraction was immediate. The public were enthralled by their illicit romance, two tempestuous marriages, frequent break-ups and extravagant reunions. Bonham Carter offers up a sympathetic Liz who is in the process of squandering her talent, and presents this impossibly elegant, self-possessed woman as deeply hypnotising and then in the next moment deeply infuriating. Many actresses have tried to pull off the role of Elizabeth Taylor, but have failed, Bonham’s performance shows us all how it should be done.
Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
One of the many collaborations with her partner, director Tim Burton, (Corpse Bride, Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows), Helena was marvellous in this visuallly stunning, if this slightly camp, very dark, and seriously good-fun musical caper Bonham Carter always has an engaging on-screen rapport with Johnny Depp, and here it is at its best as they romp through Stephen Sondheim’s musical. True, they are not the best singers in the world, but their showmanship is superbly entertaining. Mrs Lovett is on the surface a happy-go-lucky character who seems to be friendly to all, but deep down she has a dark side, and more importantly Bonham Carter’s East End accent is spot on.
Marla Singer, Fight Club (1999)
With her decision to take on the character of Marla, Bonham Carter instantly dispelled the notion that she was only suited to period dramas, becoming one of her most iconic characters. She delivers her caustic, deadpan lines with ease, and makes her addictively appealing. David Fincher’s era-defining movie was perhaps the first time that Helena Bonham Carter legitimately started being considered cool. Becoming an instant cult classic, Fight Club is a career highlight for everyone involved. Marla, The Narrator’s love-hate interest, revealed a side of Bonham Carter that many had never seen before.
Do you agree with our picks? What role do you think is Helena’s best performance, let us know below?