Ten Most Underrated Helena Bonham Carter Roles

March 5, 2014

There is no denying that Helena Bonham Carter is one of the best British actresses of our time. Winner of thirty-five different awards, including two BAFTA and two Empire Awards, you only have to look at some of her most famous roles to know why she was named among the Times’ top ten best British actresses. However, she has played in some less-than-notable films that still deserve applause for the brilliant performance that she managed to pull through.

Here are ten of her most underrated roles.

1. Serena (1987)

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As Serena Staverly in “A Hazard of Hearts”, Bonham Carter already steps into the 19th century romantic role that she was destined to embody. The film itself is a classic love tale that fans of Helena Bonham Carter will adore for her tantalizing yet innocent performance.

2. Ophelia (1990)

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Next to Mel Gibson and Glenn Close, who were much bigger stars at the time, Bonham Carter was sorely underrated for her magnificent performance as Ophelia in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. Most fans of Shakespeare will recognize at once her perfect portrayal of one of Shakespeare’s most complex characters.

3. Caroline (1991)

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“Where Angels Fear to Tread”, adapted from E.M. Forster’s novel of the same title, was set between England and Italy in the early 1900s. Bonham Carter plays alongside Helen Mirren and Rupert Graves to bring a surprising depth of character to Caroline Abbot, a stern and willful Englishwoman determined to do what she believes is best for her sister in-law’s baby.

4. Elizabeth (1994)

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As Victor’s wife in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, this was another role in which Bonham Carter received comparatively little praise next to Robert DeNiro and Kenneth Branagh. But in a film that grossed more than 5 million in 1994, she played a bright and charming role that we would have sorely missed had a different actress been cast.

5. Rosemary (1997)

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Also called “Keep the Aspidistra Flying” after the George Orwell novel it was based upon, “A Merry War” saw one of Bonham Carter’s most touching performances. She brings her character to life with a sickly sweetness that will have you gagging into your popcorn long before the credits roll.

6. Cora (1999)

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As an outlandish Scottish woman in “Women Talking Dirty”, Bonham Carter brings some of her most unconventional acting talents to the film role. Look for some of the quirks that made Marla Singer so memorable in “Fight Club” when you rent this late 90’s flick.

7. Susan (2001)

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If you love Steve Martin, then you will love “Novocaine”, whether or not you are a Helena Bonham Carter fan. She brings a bit of highbrow humor to this very American comedy.

8. Ruby (2002)

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“Till Human Voices Wake Us” is a sort of cult classic, a film that most people will hate and a very few will love. Most of us will view the film as a failed, drawn-out attempt to create a psychological thriller from an overused theme; those lovers of the film, however, herald Helena Bonham Carter’s performance as mysterious, enchanting, and captivating.

9. The Witch (2003)

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Who could better play the role of a witch than Helena Bonham Carter? In “Big Fish”, one of her earliest roles under Tim Burton’s direction, Bonham Carter portrays one of the most memorable Gothic witches in film history, foiling the blond and innocent Alison Lohman with a pagan perfection.

10. Esther (2006)

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“Sixty-Six” did not receive much acclaim in the US or the UK, but Bonham Carter’s performance as a young Jewish boy’s mother was commendable to say the least. If you love coming-of-age stories, “Sixty-Six” should be at the top of your to-see list.

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