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Helena Bonham Carter Recalls ‘Mourning’ Her ‘Painful’ Tim Burton Breakup: ‘It Was a Long-Lasting Thing’

Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham Carter.
Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Helena Bonham Carter is reflecting on her “painful” breakup with director Tim Burton.

“I wanted to wear something to indicate to people that I’m not my normal self,” the actress, 56, said on the Therapy Works podcast of wanting to wear all black afterward. “I’m in mourning, and I’m under reconstruction.”

She continued, “We should bring back a uniform for mourning because it gives an indication to people that you’re not yourself and nor should you be yourself. I think we still have trouble admitting vulnerability and there’s a judgment about it that we should be strong. We have to honor and respect loss. We have to press pause.”

Though she and Burton never married, the frequent collaborators were together from 2001 to 2014 and they share son Billy, 19, and daughter Nell, 15. Bonham Carter referred to their split as a “divorce.”

“I went through a very painful divorce,” she said. “It was a long-lasting thing. That’s the other thing, it’s not that finite. It never ends. Even if you divorce somebody, it’s a kind of marriage if you have children with them. The relationship has to change. It’s a very complicated thing how to share the children.”

Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter

Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter

Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter.
David M. Benett/Getty

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In the early days of the split, there were many uncomfortable moments.

“I remember doing the school gate, and feeling I was so vulnerable,” Bonham Carter recalled. “Meeting friends was fine, but not people I don’t really know. It was like I had no skin. People don’t necessarily know how to treat you.”

Even with friends, there were challenges: “Sometimes friends don’t know what to do, and there’s split loyalty. If you’re worried about hurting somebody, contact both sides and just check in and say, ‘Would you mind if…?’ Always respect what they had, even if it’s in your view, the past, or even if in your view, if it wasn’t a good thing anyway. The divorce is that previous relationship, and that person was theirs.”

Today, Bonham Carter is dating art historian Rye Dag Holmboe. She joked in the interview, “The shortest distance between two people is laughter, not sex. Sex is overrated — but that might say a lot about my sex.”

Bonham Carter also referred to her and Burton’s breakup as a “divorce” in a 2016 interview with Harper’s Bazaar, saying, “With divorce, you go through massive grief — it is a death of a relationship, so it’s utterly bewildering. Your identity, everything, changes.”