THEY are one of Hollywood’s golden couples who have graced the red carpet at some of the most star-studded movie premieres of the past two decades.
But yesterday it emerged that director Tim Burton and his long-term partner, Helena Bonham Carter, spent part of Hogmanay enjoying a game of five-a-side football at a leisure centre in the heart of Angus.
Bonham Carter played in goal, wearing a patterned dress and boots, during the hour-long match at Forfar’s Lochside Leisure Centre, while her bearded partner looked on enthusiastically from the sidelines.
Staff at the leisure centre were last night still stunned by their unexpected guests after a picture of the couple, posted on Angus Leisure’s Facebook page, went viral.
Helen Torrie, the receptionist, said Burton and Bonham Carter had arrived as guests of David Ogilvy, the son and heir to the 13th Earl of Airlie, who has two homes – Airlie Castle and Cortachy Castle – on the 60,000-acre Airlie estate, near Kirriemuir.
“David Ogilvy regularly books the main hall at the centre for a five-a-side football match on Hogmanay, and it’s become a bit of an Airlie tradition,” she said.
“He arrived yesterday and came to the desk to pay for the booking. Lauren Cameron, our young trainee receptionist, was sitting at the other side of me and looking at the couple who were also there.
“After I had finished serving them, Lauren was jumping up and down and saying: ‘That’s Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton.’ I thought she was talking rubbish, but Lauren said: ‘It is … it is. I just said to her you look very like Helena Bonham Carter, and she just turned round and said: Well, that’s because I am’.”
Ms Torrie said the staff had been left in a state of shock as the Hollywood stars, their friends and four children, headed into the main hall to spend the next hour in a five-a-side kick-about.
She continued: “Helena was playing with a dress and boots on, and I believe she was in goal for a while. Tim was more of a spectator.
“It seemed a lot of fun. They certainly weren’t dressed to play a proper game of five-a-side.
“We asked them if they would mind posing for a group photograph with some of the staff. They were fantastic. One of our members of staff, Chris Gall, got a Batman T-shirt, which Tim signed for him.”
After the picture was posted on the website, it led to a flurry of posts. One Forfar local said: “That’s a surreal end to 2012.” Another posted: “Seriously that is a huge wow for Lochside”, while another posting read: “Who is kidding who here eh?”
Ms Torrie said: “Their visit was the talk of the town last night. It certainly made Forfar’s New Year.”
Burton and Bonham Carter met while filming Planet of the Apes in 2001. They have a son, Billy, and a daughter, Nell, and live in London.
Filmmaker Burton has created many of cinema’s Gothic masterpieces, from Edward Scissorhands to Beetlejuice.
Bonham Carter has starred in a variety of films, from the Harry Potter saga to The King’s Speech and Alice in Wonderland.
In October, the couple were honoured with a British Film Institute fellowship at the BFI London Film Festival.