Most actors gravitate toward certain kinds of parts — Steve Buscemi is usually the creepy wise-guy, while Katherine Heigl signs on at the first mention of romcom. But what of Helena Bonham Carter? Where’s the common thread with her? Upon further scrutiny, we realized it was her love of playing crazy, often crazy haired people, from witches to bakers and everything in between. In honor of today’s release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 , we’ve compiled a top ten list of the most deranged, batty characters from her wide arsenal.
Bellatrix LeStrange, Harry Potter films
Helena Bonham Carter reprises her role for a third time as the maniacal, frizzy haired witch who is in love with a noseless bald guy (well, okay, Lord Voldemort). As far as off the rocker characters go, Bellatrix takes the straight jacket. In the seventh book (and film) she mercilessly threatens to kill Hermione to get information from Harry. “She’s pretty sadomasochistic,” Carter said in a recent interview with the Guardian. And she’s no stranger to torture. We find out that she’s been in the wizard prison Azkaban for nearly a decade, tortured Neville Longbottom’s parents to insanity, murdered Harry’s uncle Sirius, not to mention forgotten any semblance of personal hygiene.
Hair Craziness Level: 10 There must be some birds nesting somewhere in that magical Amy Winehouse-esque chignon. The Cruella de Ville streaks do nothing to help assuage us on the Muggle-hating insanity.
Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
This is the Holy Trinity of crazy: a Tim Burton-directed film starring Carter as a pie-making mistress, originally a Stephen Sondheim musical. Her Dickensian little shop makes the “worst pies in London,” full of rats and cats and whatever odds and ends she can find. But it gets worse. Though she means well, she ends up as an accomplice to murder (and a murderer of good old-fashioned home cooking) alongside Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp). While Todd’s wife is arguably crazier, wandering the street and whispering things like “Mischief!” she actually turned out to be the most astute (yet no less dead) of the lot. No matter how much you like a guy, you don’t cook people into pies! Especially not for profit!
Hair Craziness Level: 9.3 We hope there are no bits of priest stuck in that messy mop from of cooking people into those meaty tarts.
The Red Queen, Alice in Wonderland
While this particular Disney version of Alice in Wonderland wasn’t well received by critics, there is one thing to be said about Carter’s performance; it was quite as large as her head. It does, after all, take a certain amount of moxie to order someone’s decapitation for the slightest of offense, or to ask for a nice hot pig beneath her feet. Everyone’s mad in Wonderland, and the Queen is leading up this fictional ticker-tape parade.
Hair Craziness Level: 4 While it’s crazy for anyone to take hats and wigs with such dire consequences, the hair, in this case, does not add to or subtract from the crazy.
Marla Singer, Fight Club
Generally speaking, it’s not healthy to make bargains of desperation over who gets dibs on which therapy group with Edward Norton. But for Marla Singer, that’s just status quo. From her addition to pills (swallowing that bottle full of Xanax) to dating a guy with some serious schizophrenia issues, she’s a dissolute woman who is just as warped as our narrator. And again likes to use human body parts — this time, the discarded fat from liposuction patients — for profit! Watch out for that pink soap.
Hair Craziness Level: 6.5 Cropped short and sticking out every which way doesn’t help your case.
Susan Ivey, Novocaine
In this low-budget 2001 crime-filled black comedy, Carter plays, once again, a woman addicted to pain meds. She seduces her dentist (Steve Martin) into giving her narcotics and because of her involvement with him, ultimately causes him to pull all his teeth out, implant them into another man, and start a fire so that it looks like he died. While the bulk of crazy falls upon Martin’s character, Carter is no innocent party. But at least she has great teeth.
Hair Craziness: 4 While kind of scraggly, for much of the film, it’s pulled back in a messy, early aughts up-do.
Emily, the Corpse Bride, The Corpse Bride
While the Bride is not necessarily a mean or harmful crazy, it should be noted that this is another Burton-Depp-Carter trifecta, which means there’s still a lot of crazy going on. Oh, and her character is dead. With a pretty embarrassing eye-worm situation. Also, her obsession with marriage is on par with a Bridezilla, and that’s never a good thing.
Hair Craziness Level: 5 While some highlights could do her wonders, her hair looks remarkably good in spite of its owner’s lack of life.
The Witch, Big Fish
Carter plays both the character of Jenny and the swamp-witch who shows Edward (Ewan McGregor) death in her glass eye. If that’s not crazy, we don’t know what is.
Hair Craziness Level: 5 Average, but not impressive for a woman with magical powers. It’s called smoothing serum!
Morgan le Fay, Merlin
In one of the best TV miniseries of all time (or at least we think so!), Carter plays the spurned and disfigured Morgan le Fay, the simple-minded daughter of Igraine and half-sister of Arthur of Camelot. She is easily seduced to place a black stone under the pillow of the baby’s crib, ultimately cursing him. And let’s not forget when she herself seduces her half-brother Arthur. She finds love in Frik (Martin Short), a magically-inclined gnome, but is killed by Mab (Miranda Richardson), to teach him a lesson. And that’s why you always leave a note.
Hair Craziness Level: 6 Carter dons her traditional frizzy locks, somewhat tamed for this fantastical “period” piece. Her hair gets a lot better when Frik makes her beautiful, though she’s no less crazy.
Lady Jane Gray, Lady Jane
You can’t be related to Henry VIII without having a little bit of crazy — especially when you only make it nine days on the throne.
Hair Craziness Levels: 2 This was Carter’s breakout role, and as such, her signature look hadn’t yet emerged.
Mrs. Bucket, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
While Mrs. Bucket might seem an odd choice, we ask — what sort of person who looks as good as Carter (or Mrs. Bucket, as it were) ends up marrying a man who screws on toothpaste caps for a living? And the teeth! “I looked at Noah [Taylor, who played Mr. Bucket] and thought, If I’m supposed to be your missus, we need to be Mr. and Mrs. Crap-teeth,” Carter told Entertainment Weekly in 2007.
Hair Craziness Level: 2 As well managed as can be expected.