Helena Bonham Carter is having much more fun playing outrageous, despicable and otherwise over the top women of a certain age than she probably had playing the femme fatales of her youth. At first, seeing her in Les Miserables, I thought, “Please, someone give HBC a ‘good’ role, a nice person to play, a beautiful nearly-50-year old woman to play.” My own fears of aging are triggered by HBC; I’ve been watching her on screen since my twenties and now she’s playing cruel hearted floozies. Is this what it’s come to – HBC, me, and all of our sisters born in 1966.
But it’s fun being a crone, a witch. I’m reading Wicked aloud to my daughter and Elphaba, aka the Witch of the West, is just discovering the fun – not to mention power – she might have after years of pious, anonymous activism. Perhaps dropping the cloak of beauty is freeing?
My co-worker, who is 31, didn’t even know that this total British blue blood had played anything other than Bellatrix Lestrange and her current rotation of somewhat ghoulish or dowdy roles. Recalling a family friend who used to taut Paul Newman’s blue eyes as the height of male beauty, confounding my teenaged aesthetics (really? but he’s old!) – I spluttered: “No, truly, she was beautiful!”
Then I stopped at the verb: was.
So dear Helena, let me take that back. You are beautiful! Madame Thénardier, Bellatrix, and the wife of Colin Firth’s king (The King’s Speech) are all gorgeous and alive and full of Life’s Knowledge that you did not possess when you were swooning and bursting with perfect skin from corsets and velvet gowns. I can only wish to have as much fun as you’re clearly having. Here’s looking forward to more of it in 2013 – may it be a year of embracing every creak and crack and crevice with bawdy delight.