Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham

Posted on November 04, 2011

Darlings, here’s your pretty for the day. Faded, shredded, and tea-stained, but still pretty, here’s the first look at Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations,” directed by Mike Newell. The casting could not be more perfect (even if she does seem a bit young and not nearly skeletal enough) and the costume, designed by Beatrix Aruna Pasztor, is stunning. Enjoy, darlings. Or, for an alternate form of fun, rage against how she’s horribly miscast and Dickens would rise out of his grave to protest if he could. Win-win, darlings! Everyone gets an opinion here at T Lo Opinion-Forming, Inc.

[Photo Credit: deadline.com]

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  • Anonymous

    Looks like Diana’s wedding dress…

    • You are a GENIUS

    • Yes!!!!

    • Anonymous

      Diana’s wedding dress was more in the 17th century Restoration style, what with the big poofy sleeves. The Havisham gown is late 18th century; note the fitted upper sleeve with the flagging at the elbow.

      • Finally, someone making an opinion in the comments section who actually has the knowledge to back it up and knows their fashion history. Thank you, MoHub, you made my day.

        • If Miss Havisham was to be married between 1770-85, then yes, this is the right style of gown for her. I forget how old Pip was when he met Miss Havisham, but at the beginning of the book it was 1812 and he was about six. Say he met her three years later, 1815. If she was 55 then, subtract 30 years, and you’ll land in 1785. Maybe even a years earlier if she was marrying younger than 20. 1790 or so was when the styles really began to change. I like this interpretation of her gown, so many costumers have put her in recognizably “Victorian” styles, even post-period to when the book actually came out and when the action in the book took place (ending in the 1840s). 

          • And the bodice style is also correct for the late 1700s as well. Love. It.

  • Anonymous

    She is the PERFECT Miss Havisham!  Love it!

  • Anonymous

    Amazing. I cannot wait to see that!

  • Anonymous

    Love her. Brilliant actress, brilliant casting. Britain is lucky to have her!

  • Anonymous

    I think she’s ideal for the part. She can be offbeat but she has the the depth to bring a real gravitas and humanity to the role. that second picture is lovely

  • Anonymous

    I love her, and Miss Havisham was always one of my favorite characters. Looking forward to it! (even though she does seem awfully young, I can’t care about it too much)

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t know there was a new adaptation of “Great Expectations” in the works. I do like Helena Bonham Carter as MIss Havisham, even though she’s a bit young for the part.  She has such a knack for playing characters who are more than just a bit skewed or cracked.  Love the costume.

  • Anonymous

    I love Helena Bonham Carter . I love Miss Havisham. She’s great for the role. I also think she would be great as La Llorona.

    • A. Valera

      La Llorona? Maybe if she were Mexican…

      • Anonymous

        Right, more importantly she’s not a phantom .

  • Mariah J

    Love. This.

  • Bethany Fairbrother

    No…she is perfect for the part. You see the faded beauty that Dickens described.  Of any actress out there who could play this, she would also be my choice.

    • Exactly.  She’s crazy-talented… and also just crazy.  No one brings the cray-cray like Ms Bonham.

  • Sara__B

    She IS too young and healthy-looking for the part, but HBC is a great actress. She’ll become Miss Havisham and all our disbelief will be swept away. (I just wish the costume and set looked dustier and more tattered.)

    • Anonymous

      she made me believe she WAS Hermione Granger! That small little part of her role in the last HP. She is an extraordinary actress who commands any role she takes on.

      • What? She was Bellatrix Lestrange – when did she show up as Hermione? Even the dratted epilogue had Emma Watson in it.

    • I agree. While I love the look of the whole thing (and she is an amazing actress) she’s too dewy-looking.

  • Anonymous

    Shut the front door! Yeah sure, too young and too healthy looking but you know she’s going to be fantastic. 

  • Yes, she’s too young, but this is almost certainly going to be one of those instances when the acting allows me to happily suspend my disbelief.

  • She looked so old and staid in The King’s Speech.  It’s a relief to see her here in this look.

  • Everyone is thinking she’s too young…but she’s 45, the same age as Miss Havisham in the book. It’s just that Hollywood has made her so old over the years. In reality, Miss H was merely middle-aged.

    • Anonymous

      Wow. I will have to re-read the book (though I don’t want to). I read it many moons ago, and my memory is of a horrible old lady. Great, I’m almost that horrible old lady!

      • According to Wikipedia (which we know is ALWAYS correct *cough*), Dickens describes her as being in her mid-50s.  So you still have time, SL, but I’m in that Horrible Old Lady range.

        And, 100 years ago, 55 was considered old.  I’ll be 51 in two months and I don’t feel old at all!

        • Anonymous

          51 is young, believe me in know 🙂

      • Anonymous

        This so reminds me of,” Fiddler On The Roof”. The dream scene, where the best friend of the wife comes to warn against marring the daughter to her husband, the butcher. One of my favorite musicals.

      • Anonymous

        We’re all required to read it when we’re 14 and 45 is incredibly old.

  • I have had the biggest girl-crush on her since she did Lady Jane. This? Might even get me to like Dickens.

    • Nope… nothing will ever get me to like Dickens.  But I truly believe that HBC can make any role work and if she couldn’t, she wouldn’t take it.

  • Anonymous

    I think the randy Dickens would have looooved HBC in the role, even if she is young for it. She looks great in the photos, I can’t wait to see it.

  • Cory Stottlemyer

    Miss Havisham is actually supposed to be in her 50s I think, though popular culture and artists have always aged her a lot more. I think she will be magnificent in this role. Miss Havisham is an incredibly layered literary character whose every move can have multiple meanings (and then even MORE meanings once you reread it). If anybody is up for the challenge of essentially playing several personalities at once, it’s HBC

  • the whole thing is perfect.

  • Anonymous

    I think she looks fabulous!  LUV HUH, and the dress looks terrific.    The bottom reminds me of the McQueen Oyster Dress.

    (and yes, I totally see the Diana wedding dress in the bodice and sleeves!)

  • Terence Ng

    I love and respect HBC, but this is not her role. Mrs Havisham Crazy =/= Bellatrix LeStrange/Queen of Hearts/Mrs. Lovett/The Witch Crazy. Surface-level casting if ever there was.

    • Have you seen her away from her partner’s work and the children’s stuff? Her literary/period work is beautiful, though she moved away from it as she got older and wasn’t asked to play as many ingenues. She’s already been in some pretty amazing roles – Ophelia and Olivia from Shakespeare, Lucy Honeychurch and Helen Schlegel from E.M. Forster, Kate Croy from Henry James, etc. And I highly recommend this more recent movie, Conversations with Other Women with Aaron Eckhart –  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435623/

      • Terence Ng

        Thanks for the suggestions! I forgot, but yes, I would add her Ophelia and her Olivia to my list above. Shades of the same type, “her” sort of role. But I will definitely take a look at the rest you suggested!


  • MilaXX

    Love her and all her crazy!

  • Anonymous

    I love it.

    I love and adore HBC.

  • Anonymous

    She’ll act the heck out of it, but she’s too pretty. Miss Havisham should be wrinkled and faded.

  • I caught the thumbnail and thought, “Oh, my, she’s playing Miss Havisham? They’re making a new Great Expectations?” So I would say this is as good as it gets. Too bad they can’t patch in the very young Jean Simmons as Estella.

  • Anonymous

    Love the wedding gown, wish it was a bit more tattered, at least the veils. They should be tattered. 

  • margaret meyers

    Now I am going to have to go watch the David Lean version again.  It’s beautiful, and Martita Hunt is wonderful in the part — scary and sad.

  • Anonymous

    Ooh! Exciting. The costume is wonderful and it’s proper stays, and the shape is nicely 18th century.

    Agree with the people saying HBC is about right in age. Gillian Anderson (43) will be playing her in a BBC adaptation soon and Charlotte Rampling was in her early 50s when she played her.

    • Anonymous

      I wonder if the version with Charlotte Rampling is available on DVD?  I can just picture Rampling as Miss Havisham

      • Anonymous

        It is I think. Just look for the 1999 production. I watched it at the time but I can’t remember much about it.

  • Oh cool, just how I pictured her!  

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, she may be too young, but she can get the creep on like no one’s business. And if I recall the 600-odd pages of GE correctly from my childhood reading, she is absolutely perfect for the role. She looks great.

  • Although she has often been portrayed in film versions as very elderly,
    Dickens’s own notes indicate that she is only in her mid-fifties.
    However, it is also indicated that her long life away from the sunlight
    has in itself aged her, and she is said to look like a cross between a waxwork and a skeleton, with moving eyes.

    • From Wikipedia

    • Anonymous

      She’s in her 50s when Pip first meets her, but when she dies, it’s 15 to 20 years later, so you can’t put a single age on her. My feeling is that Bonham Carter will act the snot out of the part, but physically, she’s too buxom, and her face needs more sag.

  • Ooh – love her, but the casting wasn’t very creative. Eccentric + British + period piece/classic literature = automatic HBC role, at this point. Wish we could’ve seen some more surprising attempt that transformation.

    Nonetheless, I’m sure her performance will be excellent.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been watching a bunch of British costume dramas of late, and I’m convinced there are only about 30 actors in all of the UK, who just keep getting recycled through each film or miniseries.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, there may be only 30 different actors in the UK, but they’re all *exquisite* actors.  Therefore, I don’t mind seeing them again and again.

        • Anonymous

          I agree! It’s why I keep watching the costume dramas. (Well, that and they’re often based on great literature. And the costumes are gorgeous.) So fun.

  • mrspeel2

    Even when she’s supposed to look horrible, somehow her beauty shines through anyway. Helena Bonham Carter AND Ralph Fiennes? I am so there and looking forward to seeing it!

  • Lauren Bradshaw

    If I recall, Miss Havisham was supposedly mid fifties, I don’t think a 45 year old with strong makeup and lighting is that far off.  Helena is perfection.

  • Anonymous

    With HBC one never knows if she is dressed in a costume for a film or on her way to Starbucks

  • I think it’s great casting, particularly if she plays it with a little less wackadoodle and a little more tragedy. LOVE that dress.

  • Anonymous

    She is bat shit FABulous! J’adore HBC!! 

  • Anonymous

    She was born to play this role.

  • Anonymous

    Now you need to procure a pic of Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham from the rival production….Bitter Kittens love to contrast and compare!!!!!

  • Totally unrelated, but she is #1 on my husband’s “List”. I approve. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    FAB. U. LOUS.  Full on perfect casting, she will be fantastic.  Dickens wrote that Miss H was left at the altar at 21 and the story picks up 30 years alter making her 51.  She can pull off 51 easily enough…….

    • Anonymous

      But 51 then was “older” than it is now, and Miss Havisham would have aged beyond her actual years as well. It would take someone in her late 60s or even early 70s to have the right look. Bonham Carter looks way too fresh-faced for Havisham.

      • Anonymous

        I agree, but I still think she’ll get me to suspend my disbelief if she plays it ethereally creepy & not scene-chewingly haggish.

  • Anonymous

    She is way too young to play Miss Havisham.  HOWEVER, I know she will nail it.  So I don’t mind. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    That is stunning. Great casting and looks like the costumes will be wonderful.

  • Anonymous

    Not very good quality to the images themselves, which is a bit sad. 

  • Anonymous

    Love her!

  • Hillary Matlin

    Is it just me or is anyone else getting a Baby Jane vibe from the third shot?

  • I think in 10 years she would be more ideal for the part.  The outfit… AMAZING!  If Pip’s street urchin clothes are just as fabulous, then I see Oscar nomination.

  • She looks amazing, but the quality on those photos is ghastly. Here are the hi-res versions! http://www.deadline.com/2011/11/first-look-helena-bonham-carter-as-miss-havisham-in-%E2%80%98great-expectations%E2%80%99/

  • Anonymous

    Normally I would say she’s perfect for this sort of role, but she really does look a bit too young and healthy to be Havisham.  The dress and setting look amazing.

  • Perfect!

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I always think of Miss H as a decrepit 85 yr old woman – HBC definitely seems a little young, but I know she’ll be able to pull of the cray cray!

  • Anonymous

    Of course she’s a perfect Miss Havisham!

    Crap, now I have to watch the movie.  I hated that book…

  • Susan Crawford

    Despite being decades too young for the role, I have not a doubt in the world that HBC is going to turn in an amazing performance. Can’t wait for this film!

  • Anonymous

    She has the eyes of a silent movie star

  • Anonymous

    Agreed.  She’ll be perfect for Miss Havisham in about 20 years.

  • Joshua

    She’s certainly got the chops for the part, but she’s about 80 years too young looking.

  • That dress is DIVINE.

  • Miscast all the way! (Well, not exactly all, she does have that English rose look). Speaking of skeletal, Keira Knightley would have fitted the bill on that regard… And while we’re at it, nothing, nothing speaks “horribly miscast” as much as Ralph Fiennes as the duke of Devonshire in “The Duchess”. Brrr…

    • Anonymous

      I liked him in the Duchess. He didn’t resemble the real Duke but then Keira Knightly looks even less like Georgiana. He fitted the film role of the Duke well, how well that relates to the actual Duke is a bit different of course.

  • I just love HBC. She can do no wrong in my book.

  • Anonymous

    Makes sense to me!

  • Anonymous

    I dunno, I think Maggie Smith would KILL this role.  I wonder if she’s done it?  Would give me chills.

  • Anonymous

    She’s a little on the young side for the role, but that costume is FABULOUS!!!!

  • Anne Slovin

    Slightly miscast, but inspired casting at the same time.  May be time for me to re-read Great Expectations and see if maybe I don’t hate it after all.

  • Anonymous

    I bet she will walk away with the film. The skirt of her dress reminds me of Alexander McQueen’s Oyster Dress.

  • She’s a tiny bit young for the part, but not really. In the book she is around 55, so HBC is really only 10 years too young at her technical age. Her appearing as a skeletal granny in movies is just modernizing what a “spinster” is to the audience. I’m thrilled to see HBC in this role!

  • Anonymous

    I think she’d be a good Miss Havisham.  I haven’t read that book for decades but I remember how Dickens unfolds that harrowing scene.  I think it’s great that the designer chose a late 18th C style for this dress.  Makes Miss Havisham’s life all that more wasted and creepy.  All those years!
    That said, I wish it looked a little grimier – but maybe that would be Too Much Information.

  • ‘Helena Bonham Carter, a fabulous and extremely talented actress, has been miscast as the slighted and bitter Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’. This could have been avoided, if she had a sassy gay friend.’ After seeing ‘Sassy Gay Friend: Great Expectations’, my mind couldn’t help himself. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yknKa1jm0w4
    But yeah, I squeeled internally when I saw this post – I knew it had to be good 🙂

  • I love HBC, and she looks great in the gown and will be appropriately creepy, but she is too young for this role.  Did Dame Judi Dench turn it down?  Now, I did read that Ralph Fiennes is playing Magwitch.  Some inspired casting there….

  • Anonymous

    A day or two ago I read that she was playing Miss Havisham and got so excited!  She’s an obvious, and therefore not very creative,  choice.  But she is a perfect choice!  I think casting Miss Havisham close to her actual age in the book, and not as a decrepit crone, allows for an interesting interpretation.  I’m confident that the exquisite HBC will hit it out of the park.  Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane and Sally Hawkins onboard too?  Can’t wait. 

  • Anonymous

    She was kind of born to play this role. The picture in my mind’s eye of Miss Havisham is probably more like, I don’t know, Grace Zabriskie? Rather a  high-cheekboned, arched-eyebrow, intimidating matron. I also pictured her much older, though back when I read the book (in high school) I probably thought 45 or 55 was “old”.

  • Anonymous

    Great Casting. She can definitely pass for 55 with the right makeup. LOVE the costume/setting.
    I have Great Expectations…

  • bethannstamps

    so perfect, i never liked Dickens much but this may make me watch the film

  • IT’S PERFECT. It’s my English professor’s favorite book and when I told her Helena was playing Miss Havisham, she could not be more thrilled.

  • Anonymous

    Miscast? Au contraire! She’s been playing this role for years 🙂

  • That’s pretty damn fabulous (though, my first thought was that she’s way too young for the role). I can’t wait to see this.

  • Perfect casting. Perfect costuming.

  • yuju ti

    Can’t think of anyone else who can do a better job than Helena does on this sort of style.

  • Anonymous

    Love it!  Agree that she’s perfect for the role!

  • Pennymac

    Ethereal! ( I had to look up the spelling, but I knew the definition at least)
    Love her!

  • Oh I think that casting is inspired! For god’s sake it’s been ages since we had a good Great Expectations remake. About time those Brits stopped making a new Jane Eyre every four years and focused on this whopper. I can’t wait!

  • Although she may be a bit too young for this role, I believe that she’ll do such a fantastic job that her age won’t even matter.  Let’s all hope that’s the case 🙂

  • Caitlin Gozdecki

    forget age- there is no one better suited for this role.

  • Anonymous

    Love HBC, but Tilda Swinton is closer to the correct age and bony enough for the role. Still, HBC can certainly ACT the role…and looks lovely in Victorian rags.

  • HBC is a bit too young to play Miss Havisham BUT she is bat shit crazee enuff to pull it off

  • Helen C

    She’s a really classically beautiful woman. 

  • Anonymous

    Love this.

  • Judy_J

    Fabulous!  She totally captures Dickens’ description of faded beauty.  That dress is gorgeous even in its decomposition.

  • Since when could that be considered our “pretty” for the day? Yikes.

  • Anonymous

    She is going to be terrific in this role. Dickens would be delighted, be ause she will nail that sad, crazy character.

  • BerlinerNYC

    This is some great casting. Maybe she’s too young for the part, but who cares. It’s called acting. Elizabeth Taylor was about 20 years too young to play Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, but that didn’t stop her from deservedly winning an Oscar for the role.

    • Lisa

      True, very true.  I do think she’s too young to play Miss Havisham, but – the movie is being made NOW.   Why cast someone else who’s not nearly as perfect?

  • Anonymous

    HBC is an amazing actress, and I have no doubt that she’ll be a convincing Miss Havisham. I just can’t help thinking Tilda Swinton seems more like the natural choice for the role. Either way, I’m excited to see one of my all-time favorite novels realized onscreen.

  • melonseller

    As much as I loved this woman, I think Glenn Close would be a better fit for Miss Havisham.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I think this will be the one movie I actually have to go see when it comes out! I love both her and Dickens!

  • Anonymous

    I think she’s too young (especially considering how much later ‘age’ overtakes the modern woman than one who lived before modern medicine, year round supermarkets & refrigeration and cosmetic procedures).

    But it isn’t going to matter, she’ll brings the essence of delusion to the part.

  • Anonymous

    Very Bette Davis–perfect! She will do wonders with this role.

  • Cathy S

    Mrs. H is only in her mid-50s. HBC is 45, so she’s fine age-wise. She looks incredible here. She’ll be great.

  • I have no doubt she can play the part, but she IS too young.  The whole point of the character is how long she’s hung onto her sad story.

  • My only question is whether I love HBC more than I loathe Dickens.  It’s a close call, but probably not. 

  • Anonymous

    Maybe a little too young but nobody, NOBODY can argue with this casting!

  • Dea

    Miss Havisham is one of my all-time favorite Dickens characters, and seeing her channeled through HBC via Baby Jane? My God – perfection!