Helena Bonham Carter recalls her run-in with Harvey Weinstein.
From the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland to Bellatrix Le Strange in Harry Potter and Mrs Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Helena Bonham Carter has brought many well-loved fictional characters to life on the big screen.
But she’s also played parts that have shone a light on interesting women in history, too - like Edith New in Suffragette and Queen Elizabeth in The King’s Speech.
In short: Bonham Carter has a catalogue of work to her name that a lot of actors could only dream of.
However, the actress has revealed that she’s faced a few testing moments when some roles could’ve been taken away from her, simply because she stood up to Harvey Weinstein.
“There were times when Harvey asked me to do certain things, and I said no,” Bonham Carter told the Guardian while discussing her new film, 55 Steps. “I knew I was running a thin line. Standing up to him wasn’t an easy thing to do because I knew I could potentially lose work.”
During the filming of the Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2013 film, The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet, she stood her ground with Weinstein when he wanted her to change a particular scene.
“Harvey wanted me to tell Jeunet [the director] to change it,” explained Bonham Carter. “There is a scene in which he hitchhikes and Harvey said as soon as that kid gets into a truck everyone will think the truck driver is a child molester and all the kids in America will be freaked out. I said: ‘I don’t think you’re right, and I’m not going to tell Jean-Pierre Jeunet I know better than him.’”
According to Bonham Carter, Weinstein responded: “‘You’ve got to tell that arrogant a*****e he’s being a s**t, he doesn’t know the American market like I do.’ I found it revolting.”
It certainly took guts. Over the past year, Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct towards several actresses has sparked a widespread movement in the form of #MeToo. And, as a result, women in the film industry have initiated Time’s Up. But, for Bonham Carter, she took the risk because she “already had a career” so she “wasn’t reliant on him”.
However, she was aware of his alleged behaviour.
“I was aware certain actresses had had sex with him, but I thought it was consensual,” Bonham Carter said.
“Nobody is wholly bad and nobody is wholly good. He was very clever,” she added. “There are a lot of reasons he [Weinstein] was very powerful. He knew how to get you Oscar nominations. Both my nominations are due to him. And he had great taste in films.”
She continued: “I found the way he treated certain people chilling – without any kind of respect. There were many times I disagreed with the way he behaved, and I don’t mean sexually.”
Like many other actresses in the industry, she’s fully behind #MeToo.
“It is definitely a good thing that #MeToo has happened,” she said. “Any kind of abuse is not on. But I think one has to be careful. You have to be absolutely rigorous about what somebody has done to stand up and accuse them. You have to honour #MeToo.”
Bonham Carter will soon hit the small screen as Princess Margaret in Netflix’s The Crown.