If you watched last night’s Golden Globe Awards, you’ll probably agree that Helena Bonham Carter is a character.
What a quirky actress. I remember her as the young Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View; Ophelia in Hamlet and Olivia in Twelfth Night; the naughty Schlegel sister in Howard’s End; and Kate Croy in The Wings of the Dove. That’s two Shakespeares, two E.M. Forsters and one Henry James.
Along with her evolving body of work, or maybe because of it, her fashion sense got more and more odd, which was only surpassed by the weirdness of her hairstyles.
Last night, she attended at the Golden Globes as a nominee for her role as Queen Elizabeth (aka the young Queen Mum) in The King’s Speech. Playing Colin Firth’s wife after sharing multiple films with Johnny Depp is enough to make a world of women envy you, but it’s really hard to hate someone who rocks the weirdness like Helena does.
But on Globe’s red carpet, she went too far. Last night, for all the world to see, Helena Bonham Carter wore one green shoe, and one red shoe.
Why is this over the top? Because one green shoe and one red shoe was my idea.
Not me-me, one of my characters. And actually, I stole that for my character from one of my sons, who wore one black Converse All Star hightop and one orange/black plaid Converse All Star hightop his entire senior year of high school. I thought this was odd so, naturally, I stole it and used it in a story.
And now, Helena has stolen it from me. I don’t know how, since it’s in a WIP, but a few people have read it and, hopefully, will remember that. I’m just posting this to establish credit. My idea, Helena. Mine.
In May, I’ll be teaching a workshop about portraying characters at the Pennwriters Conference. Quirky clothes and signature hairstyles are just one way to make a character come to life and be memorable. One danger of going too out there with a character’s outward appearances is that s/he won’t seem realistic.
However, watching the Golden Globes last night, I had to wonder: Is there such as thing as too far out? Helena is getting hammered in the fashion press this morning for her strange shoe choice. This may be karma, of course, for stealing from me.
Writing quirks for a character can be fun, but the quirk should also reveal something about the character. What do mis-matched shoes say to a reader? Or a movie fan?
Tell me about it.