Helena Bonham Carter, nominated for her role in The King’s Speech as the pitch-perfect would-be Queen of England to the stuttering would-be King, was in London with her two young children watching the nominations on television. “I have a cold,” she said. “An Oscar nomination makes you feel a lot better.”
Ms. Bonham Carter, who described herself as “happy” and “excited” about the nod from the Academy, also said she was aware that the alchemy of the awards is complicated. “I’ve been in the business a long time, long enough to know that a lot of things have to work in the right way at the right time,” she said.
Playing the loving but tough Elizabeth was a wonderful challenge because “she was really complex,” Ms. Bonham Carter said. ‘I couldn’t play the whole of her. I had to play what suited the story. Where he was lacking confidence, she did have this public construct, this public image, and hid her real self inside. She was expert at being gracious. She had these two layers — inside there was steel.”
Colin Firth’s role, as the reluctant king with a stutter and a war on his hands, is pretty serious business, but Ms. Bonham Carter said she, Mr. Firth (King George VI) and Geoffrey Rush (the speech therapist Lionel Logue) took spoonfuls of mirth with their sober portrayals. “They’re funny people, Colin and Geoffrey,” Ms. Bonham Carter said. “They’re great raconteurs. They also took their parts seriously because there was so much depth, so much responsibility,” to playing real men.
The King’s Speech generated plenty of Oscar buzz from the beginning, but Ms. Bonham Carter said she resisted making the rounds to promote the film in order to spend more time with her children (with the director Tim Burton), who are 7 and 3 years old. “I’ve got a choice in life,” she said. “I can only do so much. We don’t want a Mommy Dearest situation.”
So although the children were clapping away with joy when they heard of her nomination, Ms. Bonham Carter joked that they did not realize it meant another trip (to the awards ceremony) in the very near future. Would the whole family attend? “I can’t take them away, unless they’re on holiday,” she said. “They’re not really that portable anymore. I take it one day at a time.”