She may have been acting for 30 years, but Helena Bonham Carter claims she is "just getting the gist of it."
The 46-year-old "Les Miserables" star had a bittersweet reaction to the Lifetime Achievement Award she received on Sunday at the London Critics' Circle Film Awards, Hello! reports.
"It feels like a rash. It suddenly seems like I've got a contagion of diseases, I mean awards," Bonham Carter said after director Mike Newell handed her the trophy. "It's so weird, because I'm only 46. A lifetime Achievement award... it feels like 'I'm not over yet.' I hope they're not trying to say it's time to stop."
You may best know the British actress from her haunting turn as Bellatrix Lestrange in the "Harry Potter" franchise, not to mention her relationship with director Tim Burton. But the Oscar-nominated actress's career started way before all that.
Foregoing any professional training, Bonham Carter jumped onto the screen at the age of 16 in a TV commercial and then a minor part in the TV movie "Pattern of Roses," based on the children's book of the same name.
In 1985, not yet out of her teens, she landed her breakout role in what was to be one of her many Merchant-Ivory productions, "A Room with a View," as Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman in Edwardian England who falls for a free spirit.
Thanks to her follow-up role as the eponymous 16th century monarch in 1986's "Lady Jane," Bonham Carter was soon typecast in period dramas. But it wasn't until 1997 that she landed her first Academy Award nod for the Henry James adaptation, "Wings of the Dove."
Soon after that she met Tim Burton on the set of "Planet of the Apes." Since then, the couple has collaborated on a number of ghoulish features, from "Corpse Bride" to "Alice in Wonderland" (though not "The King's Speech," for which Bonham Carter got another Oscar nod in 2010).
"She's like a kaleidoscope, she is able to deliver these wonderful, vivid characters again and again," Newell said of his "Great Expectations" star. "They're all full of variety, full of wit and energy and I think people long to see what she's going to try next."
And they won't have to wait long -- this year she stars opposite Johnny Depp in "The Lone Ranger."