Birth Name: Helena Bonham Carter
Birth Date: 26 May, 1966
Birth Place: Golders Green, London, England, UK
Height: 5′ 3″ (1.60 m)
Bonham Carter was born in Golders Green, London. Her mother, Elena (née Propper de Callejón), is a psychotherapist. Her father, Raymond Bonham Carter, was a merchant banker and the alternate UK director representing the Bank of England at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. during the 1960s. He came from a famous British political family, being the son of English Liberal politician Sir Maurice Bonham Carter and renowned politician and orator Violet Bonham Carter, whose father was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, H. H. Asquith (1908–1916). Helena Bonham Carter’s maternal grandfather, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, was of half Spanish and half Jewish ancestry, and served as a diplomat and former Minister-Counsellor at the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C. Bonham Carter’s Jewish maternal grandmother, Hélène Fould-Springer, was the daughter of Baron Eugène Fould-Springer (a French-born banker), and Marie Cecile Von Springer (whose father was the industrialist Baron Gustav Springer). Hélène Fould-Springer’s sister was the French philanthropist Liliane de Rothschild (1916–2003), the wife of Baron Élie de Rothschild, and her other sister, Therese Fould-Springer, was the mother of British writer David Pryce-Jones.
Bonham Carter has two brothers, Edward and Thomas, and is a distant cousin of fellow actor Crispin Bonham-Carter, who played Mr. Bingley in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, and politician Jane Bonham Carter. Bonham Carter is also distantly related to Admiral Stuart Bonham Carter, Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels (through marriage), pioneering English nurse Florence Nightingale, and is the grand-niece of Anthony Asquith, legendary English director of such classics as Carrington VC and The Importance of Being Earnest. Bonham Carter was educated at the South Hampstead High School, an independent girls’ school in Hampstead, London and later at Westminster School, a co-educational independent school near the Palace of Westminster. Bonham Carter was denied admission to King’s College, Cambridge, not because of her grades or her test scores, but because school officials were afraid that she would leave mid-term to pursue her acting career. Because of Cambridge’s rejection, Bonham Carter decided to concentrate fully on acting.
When Bonham Carter was just five, her mother had a serious nervous breakdown, from which it took her three years to recover. Upon her recovery, her experience in therapy led her to become a psychotherapist herself—Bonham Carter now pays her to read her scripts and deliver her opinion of the characters’ psychological motivations. Five years after her mother’s recovery, her father went deaf in one ear while holidaying in Greece. He was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, and the routine operation carried out to remove the benign tumour went badly wrong. After 9 hours in surgery, Raymond, only 50 years of age, had a stroke that left him half-paralysed and confined to a wheelchair. With her two older brothers at college, Bonham Carter was left to help her mother cope.
Bonham Carter was in a relationship with actor Kenneth Branagh (with whom she appeared in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and The Theory of Flight), from 1994 to the summer of 1999. In 2001, she began her current relationship with director Tim Burton whom she met while filming Planet of the Apes. Burton has taken to casting Bonham Carter in his movies, including Big Fish, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Alice in Wonderland. They live in London and purchased the house when she became pregnant with the couple’s first child, son Billy Raymond Burton, who was born on 4 October 2003. The couple maintains a close relationship with Johnny Depp, who appears in many of Burton’s films. Depp is Billy Ray’s godfather, accepting the role after Burton persuaded Bonham Carter to ask him. At age 41, she gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Nell Burton, on 15 December 2007. She says she named her daughter Nell after all the “Helens” in her family lineage.