When it comes to her diverse career, Helena Bonham Carter is a rare example of a jack of all trades and master of every single one. She has portrayed royalty in movies including “The King” and Netflix’s “The Crown,” and she was given a royal title herself in 2011, according to CBS News. She has played a plethora of cherished characters in Tim Burton classics, not to mention Bellatrix Lestrange, who she portrayed in a terrifyingly psychotic manner. Each one demonstrates Carter’s fondness for strange and sinister characters. The fact that she hesitated to accept the job when director David Fincher delivered her the script for “Fight Club” may come as a slight surprise.
Today, it’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Carter capturing the tornado of razzle-dazzled complexity that is Marla Singer. The actor’s concern is made more intriguing by the fact that, according to the Sunday Times, she had grown frustrated with early attempts to typecast her as a “virginal English rose.” When she appeared as the tragic and ambitious figure in Henry James’ book “The Wings of the Dove,” people’s perceptions of her began to shift. Her performance in this movie made her Fincher’s top choice for the fabulously pessimistic and fatalistic Singer. Not to mention, this was unquestionably the character that would vehemently reject her past typecasting. So what exactly was Carter afraid of?
Carter’s mom was repulsed by the script
It turns out that Brad Pitt is to blame for Carter’s consideration for the part. According to an excerpt from the book “Best. Movie. Year. Ever.” by Brian Raftery published on The Ringer, Pitt was the one who initially suggested Fincher see “The Wings of The Dove.” He immediately sent Kate Croy a copy of the “Fight Club” screenplay after observing Carter’s “exquisitely passionate” portrayal of the ethically dubious Kate Croy. Her first response? Not very excited. Her mother, though? utterly repulsive.
“Mum put the script outside her bedroom, because it was a pollutant!” the actor said. “I didn’t get it when I first read it, either. I thought, ‘This is weird. Is this message particularly life-enhancing?'”
Since the movie and book were published, they have served as a depressing rallying cry for guys who adore a sentient id like Tyler Durden. Similar to Edward Norton’s narrator, they are driven violently towards nihilistic and even deadly fascist worldviews by their existential unhappiness with a shallow and commercial society. As a result, there are many things that seem dangerously easy to misinterpret, which was a concern for Carter after reading the script and getting to know her character. In order to “ascertain that he wasn’t a complete misogynist,” she arranged up a meeting with Fincher. It was a meeting that also served to dissuade Carter from Singer’s potential as a character.
Who is Marla Singer?
Carter reportedly did not notice any indications that Fincher was a hypermasculine sadist. She wrote him a fax following their meeting in Los Angeles that served as both a list of her worries and an appeal for him to give her the part.
“I just said, ‘I’ve got to play it with a big heart.’ Marla had to have a heart, otherwise she’d be just a nightmare. I was talking myself into it. By the end of the letter I’d convinced myself to do it.”
Carter contacted “Fight Club” costume designer Michael Kaplan, who had also worked on movies like “Blade Runner,” as soon as she had accepted the part to develop Singer’s fashion sense.
“Helena said, ‘Who the f*** is Marla Singer? You’re going to have to help me with this one,’ ” Kaplan recalled. “My response was ‘Think Judy Garland for the millennium. Not the actress in The Wizard of Oz think Judy Garland later on, when she was a bit of a mess, drinking and doing drugs while her life was falling apart.'”
Carter hid herself in costumes loyal to Singer’s essence, relying on the great experience of Kaplan, who created Durden’s fabulously loud aesthetic. It was a portent of Carter’s future role as gothic caricatures, from her iconic and ghastly bridesmaid outfit to her drably elegant fuzzy black coat. However, it’s the heart she gives Singer that highlights some of the profoundly uplifting aspects she thought were lacking. The majority of Chuck Palahniuk’s writings, according to him, have as their main theme “a lonely individual yearning for some way to connect with other people.” The film’s concluding scene, in which the Singer and Narrator are holding hands, is the most iconic example of that yearning for connection being satisfied. It’s possible that Carter was right to be hesitant when she first read the script, but it’s difficult to see anyone else bringing out the character’s best qualities.