Helena grew up in London. She acted in many school productions at South Hampstead High School for Girls
and Westminster School
, then appeared in the film A Room With A View
. After A-levels, she planned to go to Cambridge, but was turned down. Her acting career then took off in earnest, at first mostly in costume dramas. Since then she's had many film and television roles.
Helena is the daughter of Raymond Bonham Carter, a retired banker, and his wife, Elena Propper de Callejon, a psychotherapist. She has two brothers. Her grandmother was Lady Violet Bonham Carter, who became Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, the daughter of Herbert Henry Asquith, Earl of Oxford and Asquith
, Britain's prime minister from 1908 to 1916. The actors Crispin Bonham Carter
and Rosie Bonham Carter
, and the photographer and director Philip Bonham Carter
are all Helena's cousins, while the director Anthony Asquith
was her great-uncle.
Helena lived with the actor Kenneth Branagh
in the 1990s. In 2000, she dated Steve Martin
, then in 2001 got engaged to the director Tim Burton
. They now have a son, called Billy Ray, born in 2003.
In 1997, Helena was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Actress) for The Wings of The Dove