Let me just say that I love Helena Bonham Carter, and have ever since “A Room with a View” when she so charmingly wore all those nice frocks and called Daniel Day-Lewis “Cicil.” In the quarter-century since that movie (yikes, really?), she’s shown both consistency (lots of corsets) and versatility (did you see her in “Conversations with Other Women”?), not to mention a lot of unexpected wit (her Red Queen was one of the joys of “Alice in Wonderland”). And she can always be counted on to show up at an awards show looking mildly or thoroughly off-kilter, and she makes it work. Anyway, I suspect we are not going to see her win an Oscar this year for her delightful work in “The King’s Speech,” so I want to give her a few inches here, for a speech she gave at the Directors Guild Awards last weekend, introducing “TKS” director Tom Hooper. I like how she brings up the idea that, for those who aren’t hearing their names called at awards shows (and this year, if your name isn’t Firth or Portman or Leo or Bale, you’re probably not hearing it), gratitude is still very much present, even if you don’t get a chance to express it. Here’s her speech (as quoted from the New York Times’s Carpetbagger blog); as the Brits would say, well done, Helena.
. . . Colin keeps winning all the awards and he deserves absolutely every one of them. But I haven’t won one yet, but just because you lose – I really don’t mind all the losing, but the thing is, what do you do with all that gratitude? Just because you lose, you don’t feel less grateful. So I just want to say, thank you, Tom, for employing me, for not cutting me and actually not listening to me, because had he listened to me, I would not have actually been in the film. He asked me many, many times to be in this project, and I kept on saying no because I was actually already working during the week on Harry Potter, playing a witch, I have two children, I sort of felt I should see them at some point, you know, for five minutes and so I said no to him.
It actually became a weekly thing. He’d call and say, it’s Tom, and I’d say, don’t bother, no I can’t, and then the next week, no, I can’t. And then suddenly, one weekend, I realized – well I found myself dressed as the Queen Mother on set and I realized that I guess I was doing it. I never actually said yes. So I just started acting, appropriately. So thank you Tom for not listening and thank you for being brave and sane enough to actually employ me uninsured. Because of Harry Potter – I sort of moonlit. Thank you for your relentless and unstoppable, bordering on the sociopathic, passion and commitment to the singular pursuit of making what you see inside your head. And I think this is where you always travel to, it’s inside you, and thank you for making that come to life on the outside, so the rest of us can see it. You better come get your medallion.
Bonham Carter, with Linus Roache, in 1997’s “The Wings of the Dove,” for which she received her only other previous Oscar nomination. The lady can, clearly, wear the hell out of a hat. (Photo courtesy Miramax Films)