The 19th annual Britannia Awards were held last night in Los Angeles, where Helena won the award for British Artist of the Year. A reporter for the magazine The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Helena, alongside Ben Stiller and David Yates, about her career.
On the evolution of her feelings about acting: My confidence came to me very late in life. I felt distinctly unworthy because I had such an instant success. I was quite exposed, and I never went to drama school. I didn’t feel very good — and I’m pretty self-critical now. But I’ve started to get off my own back, because, you know, acting is just pretending, after all. In our society, there’s a lot made of acting, when ultimately the essential thing is you’re playing — you’re paid a lot of money just to play, and you’ve got to be responsible and take it seriously, but, at the same time, Jesus, it’s not a Nobel Prize endeavor.
On breaking away from the period-piece romances that dominated the early part of her career: On the whole, I’m probably happier as I’m getting older, rather than in the sort of ingenue part of my life, where you’re really defined by what you look like. It’s a relief to me now to be given parts not to do at all really with my exterior. I’m always attracted to more character parts and to doing something different. But the period parts were really satisfying to do because they came from the world of the novel — and they were all so complex. And I love time travel. But we never want to be predictable in life — well, I don’t.
On working with longtime life partner Tim Burton, who has directed her in seven films: We’ve got very similar senses of humor. We’ve both got a very healthy inner child, we’re both quite playful. But we’ve always had an intuitive understanding of each other. We’ve learned how to do it. Basically, I’ve just got to not talk too much and obey. But, you know, if Tim Burton asks you to do a film, I don’t care if you’re with him or without him, you don’t say no.