The actor Helen McCrory has died at the age of 52. McCrory was best known for her roles in the films The Queen and The Special Relationship and the Harry Potter franchise, and TV series including Peaky Blinders.
Her husband, fellow actor Damian Lewis, announced her death on Twitter, saying that McCrory had died “peacefully at home”. Lewis said: “I’m heartbroken to announce that after an heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died … surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family.”
He added that his wife had “died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now Little One, into the air, and thank you”.
Born in London to a Welsh mother and Scottish-born father, McCrory spent a year in Italy before studying acting at the Drama Centre. Her film roles included portraying Cherie Blair in Peter Morgan’s The Queen and The Special Relationship in 2006 and 2010 respectively. She also played Narcissa Malfoy in the final three films in the Harry Potter franchise, and appeared in the James Bond film Skyfall.
On television, she had a leading role as the Shelbys’ matriarch Polly Gray in the BBC’s period crime drama Peaky Blinders, and appeared in series including Doctor Who, Inside No 9, His Dark Materials and Penny Dreadful. Peaky Blinders began filming a sixth series this year, expected to air later in 2021, with McCrory understood to have reprised her role.
In 2020, she appeared in the Hugh Laurie political drama Roadkill on the BBC, and ITV’s Quiz.
McCrory was also an accomplished stage actor, and was nominated for an Olivier for her stage role as Rosalind in As You Like It in at the Wyndham’s theatre in London in 2006.Advertisementhttps://06cc53c1ee265f2a06328ad877299379.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
In 2020, McCrory and Lewis led fundraising efforts to provide hot meals for NHS staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their work led to almost £1m in donations to the Feed NHS scheme, and partnerships with chains including Leon and Wasabi.
Cillian Murphy, McCrory’s Peaky Blinders’ co-star, said: “I am broken-hearted to lose such a dear friend. Helen was a beautiful, caring, funny, compassionate human being.
“She was also a gifted actor – fearless and magnificent. She elevated and made humane every scene, every character she played. I will dearly miss my pal. My love and thoughts are with Damian and her family.”
Paying tribute to McCrory online, the Inside No 9 co-creator and star Reece Shearsmith described her as “always immaculate and brilliant. An unfathomable loss.” Matt Lucas, who wrote and performed The Baked Potato Song as part of the Feed NHS initiative, said McCrory “will be remembered not just for her remarkable stage and screen performances, but also for her selflessness and generosity.
“She and Damian were the motor driving Feed NHS, working tirelessly during the pandemic to raise millions for others. What a tremendous loss.”
Michael Sheen, who played Chris Tarrant in Quiz, ITV’s drama about the coughing scandal on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?, in which McCrory portrayed Charles and Diana Ingram’s barrister, said she was “so funny, so passionate, so smart and one of the greatest actors of our time. From the first moment I met her when we were just kids it was obvious she was very special.
“It was an honour to work with her and know her.”
Sam Mendes, the Skyfall director, said: “An astonishing talent, a fabulous person, and an absolute true original. The film and theatre world has lost a one of a kind actress, and her family and friends have been robbed of an extraordinary, indomitable spirit.
“The world will be an infinitely poorer place without Helen in it.”
JK Rowling also tweeted her tributes to the actor. “I’m devastated to learn of the death of Helen McCrory, an extraordinary actress and a wonderful woman who’s left us far too soon,” the author said. “My deepest condolences to her family, especially her husband and children. Simply heartbreaking news.”
“McCrory is survived by Lewis, whom she married in 2007, and their two children Manon and Gulliver.”