Peaky Blinders and Harry Potter star Helen McCrory, a legend of the stage and screen, has passed on matured 52 after a mystery ‘courageous fight’ with cancer, her significant other Damian Lewis revealed on Friday.
The ‘beautiful and mighty’ entertainer, who played Polly Gray in the Birmingham-based BBC show and Narcissa Malfoy in the blockbuster wizard films, passed on ‘calmly’ at home encompassed by loved ones.
McCrory, who was awarded the OBE for services to drama in the 2017 New Years Honours, was best known for playing the matriarch Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.
Her other movie roles included playing MP Clair Dowar in Skyfall and Cherie Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship.
On television, she appeared in Doctor Who, Inside No 9 and His Dark Materials, and last year appeared in the Hugh Laurie drama Roadkill on the BBC and ITV’s Quiz.
She also had an accomplished stage career, winning plaudits for National Theatre roles in productions of Medea and Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea.
Homeland star Lewis tweeted: ‘I’m heartbroken to announce that after a heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family.
‘She 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.’
Sir Richard Eyre, who gave McCrory one of her first significant stage roles in the 1990s, said one of the most upsetting things about her death was that:
“we will be deprived of major performances that she would have been able to give” and described her as a successor to Dame Judi Dench.
Ms Cracknell said working with McCrory was “one of the highlights of my professional life”.
“She had this extraordinary, fierce depth of character and complexity and ability to articulate so many parts of the human condition.”
“She was this tiny, tiny woman and she would stand in the middle of the Olivier stage and sort of be possessed really, it was like she was transforming,” she said.
Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight said: “Helen was one of the great actors of her generation. She was so powerful and controlled and this is so sad.”
Murphy, who played Tommy Shelby in the show, added he was “broken-hearted to lose such a dear friend”, describing her as “a beautiful, caring, funny, compassionate human being”.
“She elevated and made humane every scene, every character she played,” he said, adding it was “a privilege to have worked with this brilliant woman… I will dearly miss my pal”.
BBC director of drama Piers Wenger added: “Helen was one of the finest actresses this country will ever see.”
Actor Michael Sheen, who worked with McCrory on the 2006 film The Queen and more recently in ITV drama Quiz, described her death as “heartbreaking” and said it had been “an honour to work with her and know her” in a post on social media.
“So funny, so passionate, so smart and one of the greatest actors of our time,” he tweeted.
“From the first moment I met her when we were just kids it was obvious she was very special.”
Alongside a photo of McCrory, actress Dame Helen Mirren wrote on Instagram: “A great actress and a great person. this is so very very sad.”
Comedian Matt Lucas, who worked with them on the FeedNHS campaign, tweeted that she “will be remembered not just for her remarkable stage and screen performances, but also for her selflessness and generosity”.
In her tribute, Harry Potter author JK Rowling wrote: “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.
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