Helena Bonham Carter Called the Media Portrayal of Her Relationship With Kenneth Branagh “Very Hurtful”
The actress reportedly said she’d been labeled a “habitual, serial home breaker.”

In Style, 19 November 2020
By Isabel Jones

Who: Emmy and Oscar-nominated actress Helena Bonham Carter, 54, and Emmy-winning actor, writer, director, and producer Kenneth Branagh, 59.

How They Met: According to an L.A. Times article, Bonham Carter and Branagh first met in 1988 when they “both took part in a poetry reading on a boat floating down the Thames.”

As Bonham Carter told the publication, the two had “never actually sat down and had a proper conversation” until 1993 when she was cast in 'Frankenstein', which Branagh both directed and starred in.

In 1995, a year after 'Frankenstein' was released, Branagh separated from his wife at the time, actress Emma Thompson. Though the actual timeline is unclear, many speculated that the split was caused by Branagh and Bonham Carter’s budding romance.

The couple kept their relationship fairly low key. Despite being photographed kissing in the summer of 1996, it wasn’t until June 1997 that Carter confirmed the relationship, telling reporters, "Of course we're together, and it's very nice, thank you.”

Despite any possible indiscretions, Bonham Carter, Branagh, and Thompson remained dignified adults through it all.

More context regarding the potential love triangle was provided by Thompson herself, nearly 20 years later. In 2013, Thompson told The Sunday Times that she and Bonham Carter “made our peace years and years ago.”

She called any ill will “blood under the bridge,” adding, “You can't hold on to anything like that."

Joking, she went on to say that she and Bonham Carter were both “slightly mad and a bit fashion-challenged.”

“Perhaps that’s why Ken loved us both," Thompson said in jest. "She’s a wonderful woman, Helena.”

Thompson seemed to allude to the possible affair again in 2018, reportedly referencing her 'Love Actually' character’s storyline while speaking at a fundraiser.

“That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through,” she said.

“I had my heart very badly broken by Ken. So I knew what it was like to find the necklace that wasn’t meant for me,” she went on. “Well, it wasn’t exactly that, but we’ve all been through it.”

Still, Bonham Carter was unhappy with how the media portrayed her relationships, especially after she took up with Tim Burton (and was once again ensnared in what appeared to be a love triangle — this time with the director’s former fiancé). The 'Crown' star said she’d been labeled a “habitual, serial home breaker.”

“It gets frustrating because I know the story and the truth of it, she continued. “It is very hurtful.”

When They Peaked: I mean, they met the queen! Fast forward 20 years and there probably wouldn’t be quite so many smiles involved …

The Breakup: Bonham Carter and Branagh’s relationship came to an end in 1999, with the former reportedly telling the press, “I am very sad to confirm that Kenneth Branagh and I are no longer together,” clarifying that "the decision was mutual and no one else was involved.”

Regardless of what transpired between the two, the actors have remained close through the decades. The year after their split, Bonham Carter supported Branagh at the premiere of his film 'Love’s Labour’s Lost'.

They collaborated again more than 15 years after their split, with Branagh directing Bonham Carter in his live-action adaptation of 'Cinderella'.

Discussing her romantic relationships with her directors (Branagh and Burton) in an interview with The Guardian earlier this year, Bonham Carter said, “Me and Ken was very different from me and Tim. You know, Ken avoided directing me once we were together because it can be complicated and I think he didn’t want — anyway, that’s all blood under the bridge.”

Where They Are Now: Bonham Carter and Burton split in 2014 after 13 years together. The actress has been dating Rye Dag Holmboe since at least 2019.

Season 4 of 'The Crown', in which Bonham Carter plays Princess Margaret, launched on Netflix earlier this week.

Branagh wed art director Lindsay Brunnock in 2003.

Next up for the multi-hyphenate is murder mystery 'Death on the Nile', which he both directed and stars in.

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