Bonham Carter’s weekend work

U.K. thesp fit in 'Speech' while filming 'Harry'

Helena Bonham Carter loved the script of “The King’s Speech,” but wasn’t particularly interested in the part she was offered by director Tom Hooper.

“I wanted to play George VI,” she laughs. “I was quite diffident about playing the queen. I was working on ‘Harry Potter’ at the time, and although it wasn’t very demanding, it took up a lot of time. I never actually said ‘yes’ to Tom, I just ended up doing the film on weekends because he’s the single most stubborn man I’ve ever met.”

At least Queen Elizabeth was a happy contrast to her day job as the maniacal Bellatrix Lestrange.

“I was playing a very external character in Bellatrix, so it was good to play someone more internal and held back on the normal side of things,” she says. “My challenge was to find some depth and extra dimension to her that wasn’t there on the page.

“She’s a bit of an enigma, a fascinating and complex woman, projecting this Edwardian sweetness with her head on one side, but she wore the pants in that relationship. I found that Cecil Beaton quote about her being a marshmallow made with a welding machine, and I wanted to just hint at those two different levels.”

Bonham Carter’s perf provides the warmth and empathy that enables Firth to expose the vulnerability of his character. “My role was to support Colin, as hers was with Bertie. She was the ultimate supportive wife, so never has the definition of a supporting role and the role itself been so well matched,” she laughs.

Get more articles from Eye on the Oscars: The Actress:
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Annette Bening | Sally Hawkins | Nicole Kidman | Jennifer Lawrence | Natalie Portman | Tilda Swinton
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Amy Adams | Helena Bonham Carter | Melissa Leo | Miranda Richardson | Jacki Weaver | Dianne Wiest
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