Helena Bonham Carter is the great granddaughter of former British Prime Minister, Lord Asquith. She had a troubled childhood after her mother suffered a serious nervous breakdown and her father was left half-paralysed and confined to a wheelchair after a routine operation went wrong.
Having attended the South Hampstead School for Girls, Helena used the money she'd won in a national poetry competition to find an agent and buy herself an entry in a casting directory.
Her first real break came in 1983 when she appeared in ‘A Pattern of Roses’, in which she played an Edwardian ghost, and she soon followed this up with her second film, the British drama ‘A Room with a View’. The movie saw her star with the likes of Maggie Smith, Daniel Day Lewis and Judi Dench and introduced her to a global audience.
The film was a huge success and secured her future in acting. In an effort to break from possible ‘English Rose’ typecasting, she upped sticks and moved to America, where she played Don Johnson's junkie fiancée in the smash hit show ‘Miami Vice’ (1987). During this time, she appeared in ‘A Hazard Of Hearts’, ‘The Vision’ and the classic ‘Howard's End’ (1992), which landed her a career-boosting Bafta Award nomination for Best Actress In A Supporting Role.
Successfully combining period and more contemporary roles, she played a stripper in ‘Dancing Queen’ and a victim in the darkly gothic ‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’ (1994), which apart from earning her a Saturn Award nomination for best actress, introduced her to a new partner. It was during the filming of the movie that she met Kenneth Branagh. The pair began a relationship that lasted until 1999.
Bonham Carter gained further recognition in the 1993 television film ‘Fatal Deception: Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald’, in which her portrayal of Marina Oswald led to another nomination - the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. The industry took notice of her again in 1995's ‘Margaret's Museum’, with 1997's ‘The Wings of the Dove’ bringing further critical acclaim, including an Academy Award nomination for best actress.
‘Fight Club’ (1999), alongside Brad Pitt was her first real Hollywood blockbuster roll, and in 2001 she donned a monkey suit to star in Tim Burton’s ‘Planet Of The Apes’. It was during the making of the film that Bonham Carter and Burton began their relationship. Apart from going on to start a family, Burton has cast Bonham Carter in several of his films, including ‘Big Fish’, ‘Corpse Bride’, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the latter four of which saw her teaming up with long-time Burton collaborator Johnny Depp.
Bonham Carter has successfully avoided the Hollywood blockbuster trap, preferring instead to opt for low-budget roles that offer her more scope and less familiarity. Her mixed bag of movies includes the ‘Harry Potter’ series in which she played Bellatrix Lestrange and 2009's ‘The Gruffalo’, which was made for the BBC as a Christmas special.
In 2010's ‘The King's Speech’, she took on the role of Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King George VI. While co-star Colin Firth received most of the plaudits for his portrayal of the famous monarch with a speech impediment, Bonham Carter also earned her second Oscar nomination for the film, for Best Performance by an Actress in a Support Role. She also took home a BAFTA award and a British Independent Film Award for best supporting actress.
She has continued to pick leftfield fare, starring in 2010's quirky comedy drama 'Toast', about a young boy growing up in the 1960s and discovering his love for all things edible. This was followed up in 2012 with a few Hollywood films, in the form of a star-studded remake of popular musical 'Les Miserables' and 'The Lone Ranger', which once more saw her team up with Depp. She is also to be seen in a new adaptation of Cinderella, to be released in 2015.
Away from the screen, the English actress has continued to raise her children, son Billy Raymond and daughter Nell, with Burton. The couple live in Belsize Park in London in two separate houses, connected by a doorway, so that they both have their personal space. In 2008, she suffered a tragedy when members of her family were killed in a Safari bus crash in South Africa. But 2012 was a great year for Bonham Carter, who was awarded a CBE by the Queen in February.