Carter nabs a killer role

Thesp joining Depp in Burton's 'Todd'

Helena Bonham Carter will play the diabolical meat pie-maker Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd.”

Director Tim Burton tapped Carter to co-star with Johnny Depp in the DreamWorks Studios and Warner Bros. co-production of the Stephen Sondheim musical. John Logan wrote the screenplay.

Mrs. Lovett, a role originated onstage by Angela Lansbury, is a murderess who dispenses her victims’ bodies in meat pies and becomes the amorous accomplice of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In most stage productions, Mrs. Lovett has been about a decade older than the Demon Barber and is usually someone in her 50s; Carter and Depp are about the same age and in their early 40s.

Web rumors have “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen circling the role of rival barber Signor Adolfo Pirelli, but the studio would not confirm whether he’ll be part of the mix.

Shooting begins in early next year for a late 2007 release, with Paramount distributing domestically for DreamWorks, and Warner Bros. handling international territories.

Carter, Burton’s longtime off-screen partner, has been a regular collaborator onscreen. She has starred in the Burton-directed films “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Big Fish” and “Planet of the Apes,” and provided the title voice for “Corpse Bride.”

Carter will sing in “Sweeney Todd.” Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics, while Hugh Wheeler wrote the book for their version of Christopher Bond’s 1973 play. The musical opened in 1979 and won eight Tony Awards including best musical and was revived on Broadway last year after a successful run in London. The legend of Sweeney Todd goes back to the 1800s and was first filmed in 1936 with Tod Slaughter in the title role.

Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are producing with Richard D. Zanuck and Logan.

Carter just wrapped “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

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