I Want What They Have: Helena Bonham Carter and Rye Dag Holmboe

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Love is a many-splendored thing, especially when you’re gawking at it from the outside. In this new column, we’ll be examining the celebrity couples that give us hope for our own romantic futures and trying to learn what we can from their well-documented bonds.

I have harbored a wild and unyielding love of actor Helena Bonham Carter ever since my mom made me watch the Merchant Ivory adaptation of Howard’s End at an age when I would have far preferred a Disney Channel movie. There was Bonham Carter, all curls and corsets as the well-meaning Londonite Helen Schlegel, and as I watched her romp across fields and generally screw everything up, I instantly became a lifelong Bonham Carter–ite.

My obsession with Bonham Carter only grew when I saw her in the Harry Potter movies as Bellatrix Lestrange, and it persists to this day. So when I saw her step out at the BAFTA TV Awards last night, clad in froufrou polka dots and sunglasses and bizarre jewelry (as befits a legend), I was thrilled. Even more thrilling, though, was Bonham Carter’s company: She attended the awards with boyfriend Rye Dag Holmboe, a Norwegian writer and art historian who is fully 21 years her junior.

I’ve written before about loving May-December relationships (provided everyone in them is a consenting adult and there’s no weird power differential, of course), and Bonham Carter and Holmboe are a perfect representation of the genre. Bonham Carter herself seems to feel zero weirdness about the age gap, telling The Times, “Everybody ages at a different rate. My boyfriend is unbelievably mature. He’s an old soul in a young body, what more could I want? People are slightly frightened of older women, but he isn’t. Women can be very powerful when they’re older.” No lies detected!

One might assume that a couple as creative and eclectic as Bonham Carter and Holmboe met somewhere appropriately bizarre, like a deserted opera house at 4 a.m., but in fact, the truth couldn’t be more prosaic. The two met at a wedding in 2018, with Bonham Carter calling it “a totally random thing, which both of us nearly didn’t go to, so it was one of those moments that was so chance and ended up determining so much.” Can I special order a rom-com in which an offbeat English actress meets a sexy, reclusive European academic at a wedding and they bond over how embarrassing and trite the bouquet-throwing ritual is?

Bonham Carter’s partner prior to Homboe was, quite famously, the director Tim Burton, suggesting that her current beau has some big shoes to fill; however, Bonham Carter and Burton, who never married, separated amicably in 2014 and continue to co-parent their two children. In other words, Bonham Carter appears to have it all; a full and loving family life, plus a cute-as-hell younger boyfriend with whom she can get dressed up and hit the awards-show circuit or simply bundle up and walk the dog. We do, in fact, love that for her!

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Originally Appeared on Vogue