Helena Bonham Carter
Her father was a merchant banker, and her mother a psychotherapist, Helena was born in Golders Green, London, the youngest of three children. She is the great-granddaughter of former Prime Minister Herbert H. Asquith and her blue-blooded family tree also contains Barons and Baronesses, diplomats, and a director, her great-uncle Anthony Asquith, who made Pygmalion (1938) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1952), among others. Cousin Crispin Bonham-Carter is also an actor.
Helena attended South Hampstead High School and Westminster School in London. At the age of 13, she entered a national poetry writing competition and used her second place winnings to place her photo in the casting directory "Spotlight." She soon had her first agent and her first acting job, in a commercial, at age 16. She then landed a role in the made-for-TV movie A Pattern of Roses (1983) (TV), which subsequently led to her casting in the Merchant Ivory films A Room with a View (1985) and Lady Jane (1986), which was her first leading role.
Often referred to as the "corset queen" or "English rose" because of her early work, Helena has continued to surprise audiences with magnificent performances in a variety of roles from her more traditional corset-clad character in The Wings of the Dove (1997) and Shakespearian damsels to the dark and neurotic anti-heroines of Fight Club (1999) and many of Tim Burton’s films. Though consistently a versatile and engaging actress, she has never won a major American film award. However, she has received a number of critical awards and has been nominated for five Golden Globes, an Oscar, a SAG Award, and two Emmys.
Helena was nominated for a Golden Globe for the fifth time for her role in her partner, Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the Steven Sondheim musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), for which Burton and co-star Johnny Depp were also nominated. Since their meeting while filming Planet of the Apes (2001), Helena and Tim Burton have made four movies together. They live in adjoining residences in London, sharing a connecting hallway, and have two children: Billy Ray Burton, 4, and Nell Burton, who was born December 15, 2007. Ironically, a mutual love of Sweeney Todd was part of the initial attraction for the pair. Despite that, Helena has said in numerous interviews that her audition process for the role of Mrs. Lovett was the most gruelling of her career and that, ultimately, it was Steven Sondheim who she had to convince that she was right for the role.
Helena received rave reviews for her performance as Elizabeth, the wife of George VI (played by Colin Firth) in the film The King’s Speech (2010). A movie detailing the personal agony of how the Queen’s parents coped with the Abdication Crisis - which the Queen Mother decreed should not be made during her lifetime.
The film highlights the bravery of how George VI (or ’Bertie’, as he was known before he took over the throne from his brother Edward VII) overcame a crippling stammer.
The King’s Speech is widely expected to become a major contender at the Oscars in March.