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It was monkey see, monkey do, monkey fall in love when Helena Bonham Carter first flipped for director Tim Burton while starring in his 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes.
It was mutual as Burton, too, fell for the British actress, despite her spending all of the sci-fi film hidden behind layers of prosthetics, makeup and wigs – it took four hours to put it all on – that transformed her into a very fetching ape.
Bonham Carter, 45, and Burton, 53, have been together ever since, making their home in adjoining houses in London, where they are raising their two young children.
The couple has collaborated on seven films, beginning with Planet of the Apes. Their latest joint effort is Dark Shadows, which opens today (Friday, May 11).
In Burton’s jokey horror film version of the old daytime gothic TV soap opera (which originally aired from 1966 to 1971), Bonham Carter plays Dr. Julia Hoffman, a psychiatrist who develops a major crush on vampire Barnabas Collins (played by Johnny Depp).
Here, in decreasing order of success, are Burton’s best uses of his life partner in their seven projects together:
1. Alice in Wonderland
Bonham Carter shone most brightly as the capricious Red Queen in Burton’s 2010 version of the Lewis Carroll story. “Off with their heads,” she yelled at blood-curdling volume, again and again and again, her gigantic head quivering in rage. It was funny and sad and scary, all at the same time.
2. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Her singing voice may not have been much to brag about, but Bonham Carter took acting honors as a hilariously flirtatious Mrs. Lovett, the pie-making widow with the hots for Johnny Depp’s murderous barber in this 2007 musical.
3. Dark Shadows
All jittery nerves and constantly clutching a scotch glass, Bonham Carter offers a savvy supporting turn here as a shrink who doesn’t shrink at the sight of fangs. Here’s hoping that if there’s a sequel – and the movie’s ending hints that there might well be – she’ll be back.
4. Corpse Bride
In this animated 2005 feature, Bonham Carter voiced the title character, a skeletal dame who came from beyond the grave to claim her groom. Never has being dead sounded so delicious. Take a listen here.
5. Big Fish
Deploying an American southern drawl to devastating effect, Bonham Carter stole her scenes in this too little-seen drama from 2003 about a son (Ewan McGregor) coming to terms with his father’s (Albert Finney) death. But what all these Brits were doing down South was never really explained.
6. Planet of the Apes
The movie was a big yawn, but Bonham Carter managed to enliven it with her simian turn. Her ape scientist was so appealing and sexy that you kept wondering why Burton didn’t just go for some on-screen inter-species lovin’.
7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This 2005 remake of the classic Roald Dahl children’s book was also pretty much of a cocoa-covered dud, though Bonham Carter again sailed through unscathed, playing the fairly small role of Mrs. Bucket, the mother of the movie’s pint-sized protagonist. No Hershey’s kisses for this one.
What’s your favorite of Bonham Carter’s films with Tim Burton?