She has played queens and aristocrats before, but Helena Bonham Carter’s role as the Queen Mother in new drama The King’s Speech is the first time she has portrayed a character she has actually met.
“I met her a few times,” reveals Helena, 44. “The first was at the premiere of A Room With A View. She was sweet and very charming, but she was tough, too, and she was the rock behind King George VI. He would never have been able to rule without her.”
The British actress – who has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal and is a hot tip for an Oscar – should know, coming as she does from a pretty refined lineage herself. Helena is the greatgranddaughter of former British Prime Minster Sir Herbert Asquith and the granddaughter of Sir Maurice Bonham Carter, a leading Liberal politician, while her grandmother was Violet Bonham Carter, a close confidante of Sir Winston Churchill.
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The actress stars alongside Colin in The King’s Speech, which tells the story of how Britain’s King George VI struggled to overcome a stammer.
Helena thinks speaking to masses of people is a nervous prospect for anyone and joked that at one point Colin hid in the toilet to escape his fear.
“Most actors get into a similar, terrified, state as anybody else. Maybe because we do it more often and we are paid to get through it and we have certain mechanisms to get through it. I mean he [Colin] locked himself in a toilet recently,” Helena said.
“For years,” Colin added. “He’s only recently come out,” Helena quipped.
Helena supported Colin throughout shooting the film as she knew the role was difficult.
However, she joked the 50-year-old actor didn’t appreciate her hard work enough.
“He doesn’t recognise it but I’ve been so supportive of him right from the start. It’s been very tiring,” she laughed on the BBC Breakfast Show.
The King’s Speech star Helena Bonham Carter said she loved being part of Harry Potter as she got to go to work and scream all day.
The 44-year-old actress played the role of evil witch Bellatrix Lestrange in the movie series and she said it was great fun.
Speaking to UK newspaper Daily Mirror, she said: ‘I loved doing it and being part of it. It was perfect for me as a mum and really convenient because it was filmed not too far from where we live.’
The actress lives in Belsize Park in London with her long-time partner Tim Burton and their two children, Billy and Nell.
She said: ‘Once you have children you have to work around their needs. I also loved my character because it was very therapeutic for me to just go to work and scream a lot!’
It’s Queens R Us in the Bonham Carter household. Buoyed by a year of royal roles, Helena no longer has to mind her Ps and Qs over tea. The empress of the corset tells Tara Brady about her dress sense and playing the late Queen Mother in The King’s Speech
“What I really treasure are the young women who come up to me and say ‘thanks for allowing me to be different’,” says Helena Bonham Carter as she dashes about her hotel room. “I had this brilliant piece of fan mail recently. I rarely read fan mail, I’m afraid. I should be much better about reading it and answering it. But I remember this one because it was a list of 20 ways that I had made a difference in her life. So it read: ‘It’s all right for me to wear what I want. It’s all right for me to be myself. It’s all right for me to have short, thick legs.’ Hang on. Is it really? Short, thick legs?” She gestures toward the door and makes for the loo.
That’s when her phone buzzes. Blast. I’ve already looked down and noted that the incoming missive is from Nigel Slater when I realise what I’ve done. Well I can’t possibly ask about her role in Toast, the Nigel Slater culinary biopic now. She’ll think I’ve been prying. She’ll think I’m not to be trusted with her belongings ever again.
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Helena Bonham Carter didn’t struggle to find compassion for Colin Firth’s character in The King’s Speech. “I found Colin so innately touching,” she revealed.
“He’s done stammerers before, he’s got a gift for it, and I knew the compassion would be very easy,” she explained.
The 44-year-old actress plays the Queen Mother in the period drama which traces stammering King George VI’s (played by Firth) impromptu ascension to the throne and his work with a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush).
“I did love the story, I wanted to play George VI but he was already cast!” Helena jokes.
But she only just managed to squeeze working under the direction of filmmaker Tom Hooper into a hectic schedule.
“This was my weekend job, I was doing Harry Potter in the week, I also have two children and I kept on saying to Tom ‘I do have a duty to see them at some point!'”
She jokingly revealed: “He just wouldn’t take no for an answer. I call him Thomas the Tank Engine because he’s so focused and stubborn that once he gets an idea into his head he will ignore everyone else’s wishes, desires, children and family and get what he wants!”
Helena Bonham Carter has already received numerous award nominations for her portrayal of the young Queen Mother in The King’s Speech, so you’d presume it was a role she’d been relentlessly chasing.
Not so says Bonham Carter, sitting resplendent in a black gothic Victorian ensemble at a small table strewn with cups of tea.
She boasts porcelain skin that makes her look a decade younger than her 44 years and speaks in a quiet, well-spoken voice that she prefers to describe as “mumbly”.
As it turns out, it was the film’s director, Tom Hooper, who did all the running.
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I’ve started adding MQ screencaps of Helena in Toast. I’ve only uploaded a very small portion of the film so far, but I will add more tomorrow.
Seeing as a lot of people who visit the site live in a variety of different countries, and are unable to watch Helena’s latest film, Toast on the BBC iPlayer, Mittens has very kindly provided a link to download it on MegaUpload so that you can download and watch it.
Download it via the image below!
Toast, BBC1, 9pm – BBC1’s adaptation of cookery writer Nigel Slater’s memoirs of his childhood, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ken Stott, averaged 6.2 million viewers, a 25.3% share, between 9pm and 10.30pm. It had another 10,000 viewers on the BBC HD channel, where it was repeated at 11pm.
Compared to Toast, ITV1’s Ad of the Year was brown bread in the water, with an average audience of 3.3 million viewers, a 13.4% share, between 9pm and 10pm.
Here’s one last look back at the year in movies, in a tradition begun years ago by Moira Macdonald’s honored Seattle Times predecessor, John Hartl…
Best noggin: Helena Bonham Carter’s head, digitally swollen to several times its normal size as the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. Extra points to Bonham Carter for her crisp delivery, to a giant Alice, of the line “Anyone with a head that large is welcome in my court.”
Best villains: Jacki Weaver as the terrifyingly amoral grandmother in Animal Kingdom; Ralph Fiennes, still rocking that noseless face, and the wonderfully snarly Bonham Carter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part I. (Bonham Carter, come to think of it, had a pretty great year — and we haven’t even mentioned The King’s Speech.)
Source: The Seattle Times