Bonham Carter at home with her range

Britannia Awards 2011

From the deranged malice of Bellatrix Lestrange to the demure yet steely sweetness of Queen Elizabeth, Helena Bonham Carter has once again displayed her impressive range in the past year.

She’s come a long way since her debut as the archetypal English rose in “Lady Jane” and “A Room With a View,” her heart-shaped face framed by pre-Raphaelite tresses.

Bonham Carter wasn’t exactly a child star, but she started young, without formal training, and it was her very gaucheness that made her the perfect poster girl for Merchant Ivory bodice dramas. She has grown up as an actress in the public glare, becoming one of Blighty’s most consistently outstanding bigscreen performers.

It wasn’t until she played a New Yorker in Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” that she really began to show her versatility and skill. Her first Oscar nomination, for playing a darker twist on her period persona in “The Wings of a Dove,” was followed by a breakthrough Hollywood role in David Fincher’s “Fight Club.”

But the watershed in her career came with her casting as a chimp in 2001’s “Planet of the Apes,” her porcelain looks hidden beneath prosthetics, marking the start of her personal and professional partnership with Tim Burton. She became his Gothic muse, alternating highly theatrical roles in his films and the Harry Potter franchise with more naturalistic turns in lower-budget Brit features and telepics, such as “The King’s Speech” and “Toast.”

Her latest credits include Burton’s “Dark Shadows” and Miss Havisham in Mike Newell’s “Great Expectations.” Next she’s set to play the villainness in Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables.”

“Your longevity in this profession is so dependent on your choices and your luck,” she says. “I’ve never been interested in going the full Hollywood route, in mainstream commercial movies. The main one I did was ‘Planet of the Apes,’ but that was because I wanted to play an ape.

“I’ve just always been attracted to films in the independent sector, because they are more interesting.”

Britannia Awards 2011
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David Yates | Helena Bonham Carter | Warren Beatty | Ben Stiller | John Lasseter

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