Usually, where Tim Burton and Johnny Depp go, Helena Bonham Carter follows. Aside from being one of the most versatile actresses in Hollywood, this lady of great roles is also Tim Burton’s cool (ex) wife.
Being the other half of a famous oddball director isn’t necessarily the reason Helena Bonham Carter is often in his films. It is her great immersion in every role she plays that makes her the perfect actress.
Before Tim had fallen for Helena’s charm and beauty, this actress was already making a name for herself in Hollywood. It goes to say that Helena is her own theatrical genius.
In this list, we will enumerate the top memorable characters as well as the movies that Helena played that made her an iconic actress of the century.
10. Dr. Julia Hoffman (Dark Shadows)
This ginger head doctor saw Barnabas’ naivety in the modern world as something she could take advantage of. This led her to betray Barnabas’ trust. The film that plunged the greatness of Burton-Depp-Carter team into the dark shadows of Hollywood didn’t really betray Helena Bonham Carter after all.
Her role as Dr. Julia Hoffman may not be one of her bests but it was something notable due to the character itself; her, being a drunkard psychiatrist. With only a few exposure in the Gothic comedy film, her presence still presented some laughs with her lethargic lines delivered through a deadpan face.
9. Ari (Planet of the Apes)
Behind the prosthetic that masked her face, one cannot easily identify that the ape we are rooting for in the film Planet of the Apes was Helena Bonham Carter. With a performance fit for an ape with human tendencies, she made the character of Ari the ape looked legitimate.
Who would have thought that Helena admittedly flunked the Ape School that was organized for the Planet of the Apes movie at first? To see her behave like an ape while having a kind affinity for humans is bittersweet enough to make us love HBC even more. Attending Ape School for the second time didn’t go fruitless for her after all.
8. Elizabeth Frankenstein (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein)
A few of the greatest actors of our time also did what Helena Bonham Carter did for her role as Elizabeth Frankenstein; reinventing the roles already laid out for them. Truth be told that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein film version was a faithful representation from the novel itself, but Helena’s ingenuity struck her to improve Elizabeth Frankenstein as a memorable character.
Initially, Elizabeth embodied a woman of lesser assertions, a common depiction of the women in Mary Shelley’s times. Wanting to make Elizabeth a lovable character in the movie, Helena poured herself deeply into the role, transforming Elizabeth as a feminist lead opposite Kenneth Branagh.
7. Marla Singer (Fight Club)
Maybe, the times that you have seen a woman having the balls to attend a testicular cancer group are also the times that you have watched Fight Club. Where on Earth can you find someone like the daring character of Marla Singer, who breathed under her cigarette with the ‘I don’t give a damn attitude’, attend a hapless male circle group without the physical balls and cancer for that matter?
Helena Bonham Carter justified the character of Marla Singer in Fight club in a scale of performance unattainable for most leading actresses at the time. Fight club made her the coolest chick in Hollywood because of that audacious role and an iconic sense of fashion fit for a stylish nomad.
6. Jennifer Hill/ The Witch (Big Fish)
As an English actress, it must have been tough to sport a southern accent for the role of Jennifer Hill in the movie Big Fish. But as an experienced actress who immerses herself well in her roles, Helena Bonham Carter not only played the role seamlessly but also brought herself to act as the mysterious ill-looking witch of Alabama.
We could see the dynamism of HBC in the film as she played the two deep contrasting roles of the sweet Jennifer Hill and the grotesque glass-eyed witch. It’s like hitting the audience with one big shining stone, indeed.
5. Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
This reclusive lady who saw every filthy and dark side of Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) didn’t manage to stop herself from secretly falling in love with the murderer while attending to her meat pie shop- the ones made from human flesh.
Thought to be a great ally for the cutthroat Todd, she was just a victim of her affection toward the vengeful maniac. She was living a monotonous life, until Todd came. Dragged along Todd’s madness for revenge was Mrs. Lovett and her growing feelings for him.
As Mrs. Lovett, Helena Bonham Carter made a very moving performance in the adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical. Her innate Gothic soul made Mrs. Lovett the hopeless romantic character we would surely miss.
4. Miss Havisham (Great Expectations)
It seems that dark classical roles were created to be played by the ever talented Helena Bonham Carter. The Gothic chic plays a mad and manipulative jilted bride in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
It’s as if she was born to do such role in this classical best-selling novel adaptation. There’s no one more fitting to wear the dreaded web-strewn wedding dress than Helena Bonham Carter herself. It’s a no-brainer to say that Helena nailed the portrayal right on the head; she was terrifying, bitterly grief-stricken, and vindictive beyond reason.
3. Queen Elizabeth (The King’s Speech)
Before taking the challenging task of bringing the young Queen Elizabeth to life again in The King’s Speech, Helena Bonham Carter was already a royalty in the film industry. The role of being the Queen Mother was a far cry from her dark eccentric roles in her previous films, a deviation that posed a test to her tastes and abilities.
As for being Queen Elizabeth, she had to play the role of a sympathetic, loving, and supporting wife to King George VI. People had high expectations for this role and it took HBC a considerable amount of time scourging at whatever there was to exist of Queen Elizabeth. The result was somewhat expected from a veteran actress who knows there must be something bigger of a character from a seemingly mundane supportive role.
2. The Red Queen (Alice in Wonderland)
In Tim Burton’s re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland, he gave The Red Queen a bobble head, making it a hilarious recreation of the tyrant’s physical appearance. With Helena Bonham Carter in the reins of playing The Red Queen, she was very comical, villainy, and entertaining that you would have a love-hate relationship with her character.
Taking her youngest toddler as the inspiration for her performance as a bossy no-nonsense dictator, Helena unleashed her malicious dominance in Wonderland as she spat statements of taking anyone’s head off anytime she liked. No wonder that Helena looked like a brat child with her bobble head.
1. Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter Series)
As we reach the top 1 of Helena Bonham Carter’s film roles, we are no longer strangers to the fact that being a mad villainess in dark movies is her cup of tea. Yet the best of her, being a psychotic super villain, fell into the role of Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter Series.
Merciless and obsessed with the dark Lord Voldemort, this flesh-eating, mentally disturbed witch stood herself second in command for the enemy’s army. In the books, there wasn’t much to note about Bellatrix, but Helena’s interest in making the role something worth remembering changed the course of the film for the better. She’s rotten, deadly alive, and cold at heart with a penchant for anything savage- a signature Helena Bonham Carter never failed to incorporate in the Potter films.