The Ghostly Encounter That Helped Helena Bonham Carter With A Role

Helena Bonham Carter approaches acting as a mixture of play and work. "[A]cting is just pretending," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011. Even though Bonham Carter joked that acting may not be "a Nobel Prize endeavor," she said, "You're paid a lot of money just to play, and you've got to be responsible and take it seriously." For example, when Bonham Carter was cast as Bellatrix Lestrange in the iconic "Harry Potter" movie series, part of that hard work consisted of attending wand school. The actor spent so much time perfecting her magical techniques during the three-week course that she got a blister on her finger, per Entertainment Weekly.

Bonham Carter approaches the theatrical version of a real-life person with even more dedication and study. When she assumed the role of Princess Margaret in Netflix's awarding-winning series "The Crown," Bonham Carter consulted biographies and interviewed people close to the princess. "They loved [Margaret] and were very happy to talk about her because they miss her," she said (via The Guardian).

Wherever possible, Bonham Carter likes to receive consent from a real-life person before playing them onscreen. For the role of Mary-Kay Wilmers in "Love, Nina," Bonham Carter said, "'I've got to have her blessing,'" and she did [give it to me]," per AV Club. In some cases, however, Bonham Carter has portrayed individuals who are no longer living, such as Princess Margaret, who died in 2002. In a situation like this, Bonham Carter has famously gone to greater lengths to obtain permission.

Bonham Carter talked to Princess Margaret through a psychic medium

During an appearance on "The Graham Norton Show" in 2019, Helena Bonham Carter opened up about her preparation for the role of Princess Margaret. Bonham Carter was visiting a friend with "a talent for mediumship" when her friend happened to say, "Margaret is here. Does that mean anything?" At the time, Bonham Carter was still debating if she'd take on the part. She took advantage of this unexpected opportunity to ask the princess herself if she was right for the part. "I think you're a better idea than the other actor," was the answer.

This response rang true for Bonham Carter. According to Bonham Carter, that was a "typical" Margaret thing to say. "She had a way of sometimes complimenting you and putting you down at the same time," the actor recalled. Bonham Carter had met Princess Margaret on a few occasions and had first-hand knowledge of the princess' personality. The royal had even commented on Bonham Carter's acting abilities at a party at Windsor Castle. "Oh, Helena, you are getting better, aren't you, at acting,"' Bonham Carter told Harper's Bazaar. "Typical Margaret!"

True to this candid nature, the medium-channeled Margaret gave Bonham Carter some acting advice. "She said: 'You're going to have to brush up and be more groomed and neater,'" Bonham Carter recalled. The deceased princess also emphasized her style of smoking cigarettes. "The cigarette holder was as much a weapon for expression as it was for smoking," said Bonham Carter, relaying the otherworldly suggestion (via The Guardian).

Bonham Carter has a history of making spiritual connections

Helena Bonham Carter has turned to the psychic world more than once when preparing to play a well-known person. When she was cast to play Elizabeth Taylor for the film "Burton and Taylor," Bonham Carter asked a psychic friend if she should accept the role. "[The psychic] came back with the answer, 'intellectually it makes no sense whatsoever, but emotionally it's a nine out of ten,'" Bonham Carter told IndieWire. The actor also consulted an astrologer to see if she and Taylor would have been compatible with one another. Fortunately, Bonham Carter received a favorable report from the astrologer. "She said, 'She would have felt very safe with you, and you both have a very silly sense of humor,'" per IndieWire.

The spirit world is a part of Bonham Carter's personal and professional life. Besides helping her decide about the Elizabeth Taylor role, Bonham Carter's psychic friend was also assisting her with some "ghost issues" in her home. While she senses a strong spiritual connection, Bonham Carter realizes that not all people share her views. "I know most people will be like, 'Oh God, she really is mad,' but I definitely feel there are energies and people who stick around...," she told Harper's Bazaar.