All The Intense Ways Helena Bonham Carter Goes The Extra Mile For Her Roles

Helena Bonham Carter's method acting continues to astound audiences and critics alike. Though intense method acting isn't unusual in Hollywood, Bonham Carter has managed to add personal charm to the process. Known for her eccentric, off-beat characters, she has gained a reputation for using unique practices to prepare for her roles. In fact, some of Helena Bonham Carter's best parts have included the most bizarre characterizations and performances.

There is so much to learn about Bonham Carter aside from her film and TV roles - check out some of her most outlandish role preparations. Helena Bonham Carter prepares for her roles through nonconventional methods, techniques, and approaches. 

  • Praise From The Afterlife Encouraged Her To Take On 'The Crown' 

    Praise From The Afterlife Encouraged Her To Take On 'The Crown' 
    Photo: Netflix

    For the role of Princess Margaret in the third and fourth seasons of Netflix's The Crown, Bonham Carter took an unconventional step to connect with the character: she hired a psychic to contact the late princess to understand her personality better.

    Bonham Carter has even claimed to have received confirmation from the royal that she was "doing a great job" portraying her. 

  • She Got Wand Blisters During 'Harry Potter'

    The character Bellatrix Lestrange appeared in the last four installments of the Harry Potter film series. Bonham Carter's preparation for the villain included three weeks in wand school and extensive internal character development. The actress said, "We took it very, very seriously. I actually got a wand blister on the [middle] finger."

    Speaking to MTV News, Bonham Carter went on to explain the process of extensively studying her character:

    I have files and files. But that's what I love doing. And then you have to be open to everything else and learning your lines. And then you root it in physical stuff like costume, teeth, and makeup. 

    She also added personal touches to make the character more distinctive, including wearing rotten teeth, messy hair, and a corset. 

  • She Went To Ape School For 'Planet Of The Apes'

    Bonham Carter's role of Ari for Planet of the Apes required the actress to emote through a full body costume and prosthetics. Her method acting for this role involved reading the complete collection of works by noted English primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall.

    In addition, Bonham Carter attended a so-called ape school where "very earnest ape teachers" taught her how to channel her best performances. In Planet of the Apes Revisited by Edward Gross, Joe Russo, and Larry Landsman, actress Bonham Carter describes her struggles in ape school:

    [I had] major ape attention deficit disorder. I lacked everything. But then I buckled down, and I was told to concentrate, and I did develop, I think. You know, it's not easy being an ape and discovering you're an ape. It's much more challenging than I thought it was at first. It requires a strange kind of concentration.

  • A Commune With Another Realm Helped Her With 'Burton And Taylor'

    A Commune With Another Realm Helped Her With 'Burton And Taylor'
    Photo: BBC Four

    For the BBC production Burton and Taylor, Bonham Carter needed to channel the charisma and star power of legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor. To achieve this feat, she studied numerous biographies and spoke to Taylor's real-life goddaughter.

    However, the most significant step in Bonham Carter's preparation was contacting the late actress through a psychic. Bonham Carter admitted she felt a spiritual motivation to take on the role, saying, "I even asked a psychic... who was actually de-ghosting our house."

  • She Took A Deep Dive Into Cathouses For 'The Lone Ranger'

    For her role of the pegged-leg madame named Red Harrington in The Lone Ranger, the actress conducted a thorough study of Harrington's line of work. She stated, "Last year was great. I had books on [the industry] on my kitchen table, and books on pick-pocketing, and books on entomology. I played an entomologist. I read up on [the trade]." 

    However, the extent of her research ended there - she added that she "didn't do any field trips" to further her preparation. 

  • She Learned How To Bake Pies For 'Sweeney Todd'  

    Bonham Carter said she faced many challenges while filming Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Along with being pregnant during the film's production, she had to incorporate both acting and singing into the role. Because her character helped to dispose of Sweeney Todd's many victims throughout her bakehouse, the actress felt it best if she learned how to bake in real life.

    Thus, vocal lessons and baking courses became her go-to to prep for the part. "I don't do a huge amount [of baking in real life]," she said in an interview with But for this film, she added, "I did get taught how to make pie. I loved that bit."