Helena Bonham Carter has hit out at the fashionistas who have taken over the Academy Awards. The actress popped up the road from her Belsize home to do a Q&A at the Everyman cinema in Belsize Park last Thursday with The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper.
While many actresses in box-office hits will be keen to keep the Oscar chiefs on side, Ms Bonham Carter, who plays the Queen Mother in the film, stuck to her strong, indomitable style and attacked the gown-watchers who had taken over the ceremony and only want to know, “Who you are wearing”.
“I am not Hannibal Lecter wearing someone else’s skin,” the actress laughed. “Why does it matter? I make do with what is in my wardrobe. I think one should and I get comments that that’s not good enough. I think you can wear the same thing – in this day and age especially.”
She also didn’t seem too over-awed by the approach of awards season. “There are too many awards, no other profession gets so many,” she continued. “There are millions of people who deserve awards. That’s what I have a problem with and the fact it’s now hijacked by the fashion industry – it’s all what you wear.”
Mr Hooper seemed more keen adding that the film’s Oscar hype was an “extraordinary surprise”. The film, which follows the story of how King George IV struggled to overcome a stutter to give rousing war-time radio addresses. was made while Ms Bonham Carter was still shooting Harry Potter in the role of baddy Bellatrix Lestrange.
She took on a strange schedule shooting the final chapter of the world-famous wizard series during the week and the tight-budget King’s Speech on the weekends – switching from a weekday witch to weekend royalty.
However, she said that the Harry Potter character was “strangely therapeutic” with all the screaming it required. Initially the heavy workload meant Ms Bonham Carter took some convincing to agree to the role but Mr Hooper won her over.
“You can’t say no he is like Thomas the Tank Engine, once he wants something he is inexorable,” she added. The actress admitted it was hard to take on such a well-known figure but got some good advice from Royal biographers.
“She was tricky because everyone seemed to know her – she was iconic but really only in the latter half of her life,” she said. “You can’t phone up the daughter and say, ‘what was your mum like?’ and she lasted so long so every biography is inches long. Luckily we were only doing to 1939 so I sped read.
“I watched stuff too but ultimately you’re playing the script. I obviously don’t look like her hugely and Colin doesn’t look remotely like Bertie. I was trying to capture some recognisable essence. The most useful thing I was told was what Cecil Beaton said: “She was a marshmallow made with a welding machine”.
Mr Hooper and Matthew Lawson, who hosted the event, also teased the actress about the possibility of making the honours list for her portrayal with the actress joking that was why she had done it.