Helena Bonham Carter, who portrays Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films, had her turn with the LA Times’ Hero Complex. In her interview, she talked about her role as the evil Bellatrix Lestrange, portraying the Queen Mother in The King’s Speech, and being a mother.
She has another role as a queen. Of course, her most famous role to date as a queen is as the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. She had a bit to say on portraying the Queen Mother.
“She was quite strong and dynamic and born to be in public, and her husband was not born with that innate confidence needed to be a king,” Bonham Carter said. “He drew on her strength, and I tried to show that strength.”
She also enjoys the fact that her acting schedule allows her to spend more time with her children, something she finds very important. She and Tim Burton, the father of her children, have signed onto a parenting class to learn more about being a parent.
“The parenting bit is much harder than the acting bit,” Bonham Carter said. “You just never know what to do. So me and Tim were sort of fed up with getting hurt. ‘What do we now?’ But the parenting class has been really useful. It’s a bit like Parenting Anonymous. There’s a group of parents just spewing out their latest trauma of the week. ’I’m Helena, and I’m a mother.’ But there are some basics that are so helpful. Every child knows what they want; it’s your job to tell them what they need. There’s a liberalism that we’ve sort of just plodded with; it’s not a good idea to ask them what do they want to do or begin sentence with ‘if’; you want to start it with ’when.’ A lot of times they don’t want the choices, they can be overwhelming. It’s not your job to know everything, it’s your job to get them to answer questions for themselves. You don’t need to be omniscient. Your job is to be a teacher and a trainer; you teach them and the training they get automatically.”
“You learn these skills and there are three main ones: Descriptive praise, preparing for success and reflective listening. Descriptive praise really works. It’s not evaluative — ‘you’re doing great, well done’ – instead it’s praising, with real precision, the absence of negative behavior. I’ve got a real problem with whining, for instance, so when Billy isn’t whining I say, ‘You’re not whining, that’s really helpful.’ You give them positive attention and then they start to crave it. The key to this is you get out of the parenting habit of rewarding bad behavior with attention. When they are naughty, you actually turn away and they realize very quickly that to get your time and engagement they need to do something different. It absolutely works. Billy is lapping it up. And as a parent, you become happier because you’re observing all these good things about your child, if you’re being specific about what they’ve done — ‘You folded that so well and that’s really helpful.”
She also talked about her role as Bellatrix and Bellatrix’s fascination with Voldemort.
“There’s nothing like it, it’s been a nice tribe,” Bonham Carter said. “I love going back year after year. It’s refreshing. A lot of times in this business, it’s so transitory — it’s just 10 weeks here or there on a movie and then it’s over – but to see the same people over all that time, a decade, makes you feel really safe and secure. It was fantastically well-organized, the [assistant directors] are simply unbelievable, the best. The communication has always been seamless. It’s been a way for me to have work I can count on; I knew I was going to be working but the [screen time for the] role was limited and that was perfect, anything more than part-time takes away such a chunk of time and space and focus. It has been perfect for me, and I will miss it.”
“Bellatrix has really good fun, and she’s been a bit of surprise to me, in fact,” Bohnam Carter said. “It wasn’t really there on the page. When I took it on, I found there wasn’t a huge amount to go by in the script, and I read the book and she wasn’t necessarily on the page there either, so I did ask [four-time "Potter" film director] David Yates if I could bring a bit of other things or are these the Bibles? And he said yes, certainly, and apparently J.K. Rowling was very pleased with it when she saw it, and the childish dimension and the fact that she’s totally savage, that was a bit of departure.”
”I just felt she had to make an impression because there wasn’t much time in which to do so. And she had to be terrifying. She needed to be somebody you didn’t know what to feel towards. One moment she’s horribly revolting but then also weirdly sexy, maybe, or just disturbing to the mind when you watch her. There’s a lot of decaying, too, with the bad teeth. She’s been in prison for so long. The mad hair. She’s someone who has seen better times but still carries herself with the memory of what she was. She’s almost like someone who’s had too many surgeries and thinks they’re beautiful but in fact has gone way wrong. There’s a lot of people like that now. For some reason, I can’t live with the joke that now you can either be old or you can be creepy. That’s the choice. Sad, isn’t it?”
“She is so obsessed with Voldemort. He’s not the most obvious obsession for a love affair, you might say, but he was beautiful in his youth and that’s what she wants and thinks about. He has yet to grow a nose. For some reason, I find the no-nose actually sexy. Everyone to their own. No, but, if you think about it some people get off on power. There are many, many powerful men who were not blessed with the most attractive envelopes.”
Read the entire article here.
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