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Helen McCrory in 2019
Helen McCrory in 2019
Image: Isabel Infantes via PA Images

Peaky Blinders actor Helen McCrory dies after 'heroic battle with cancer'

Cillian Murphy has led tributes to the “gifted, fearless and magnificent” actor.
Apr 16th 2021, 5:13 PM 93,805 33

Updated Apr 16th 2021, 10:00 PM

ACTOR HELEN MCCRORY, best known for starring in the Harry Potter films and Peaky Blinders, has died aged 52 after a “heroic battle with cancer”.  

Her husband and fellow actor Damian Lewis confirmed her death in a statement on social media this afternoon. 

“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 family and friends,” Lewis wrote. 

“She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives,” he said. 

“She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you.” 

McCrory played the role of Polly Gray in the popular TV series Peaky Blinders from 2013 to 2020.

She also appeared in the final three Harry Potter films, playing the role of Narcissa Malfoy. 

Tributes to a ‘gifted’ actor

Cillian Murphy has led tributes to his Peaky Blinders co-star.

She was a gifted actor – fearless and magnificent. She elevated and made humane every scene, every character she played.
It was a privilege to have worked with this brilliant woman, to have shared so many laughs over the years.

“I will dearly miss my pal. My love and thoughts are with Damian and her family.”

Actor Michael Sheen, who worked with McCrory on ITV drama Quiz, also praised her in a post on social media.

“So funny, so passionate, so smart and one of the greatest actors of our time,” he tweeted.

James Bond producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement they are “devastated” by the death of the “extraordinarily talented and gracious” actor.

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.”

Asa Butterfield, who starred as a young teenager opposite Helen McCrory in the 2011 big-budget film Hugo, tweeted: “This really really hurts.

Thank you Helen, for your wisdom, your talent, your generosity. You lit up every room, and the world will miss you.

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Comedian John Bishop, who starred alongside McCrory in ITV drama Fearless, tweeted:

I am shattered to hear this news. Helen was a beautiful supportive person to those of us who had the honour to know or work with her. The world has just lost some of its sparkle. My heart goes out to Damian and the family, no words of condolences will ever be enough.

Actor Jim Howick, who worked with McCrory and her husband Lewis on the 2015 comedy film Bill, tweeted: “This is so shocking and sad. Helen along with Damien were both terrific fun on Bill.

“She was so generous with her time and her performance. I urge everyone to listen to her Desert Island Disks. What a talent we have lost.”

Comedian Matt Lucas, who worked with McCrory on the FeedNHS campaign to supply food for NHS staff amid the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic, tweeted:

Helen McCrory will be remembered not just for her remarkable stage and screen performances, but also for her selflessness and generosity.”

Personal life

McCrory was born in Paddington, London, to a Welsh mother and Scottish-born father and was the eldest of three children.

She attended school in Hertfordshire, then spent a year living in Italy, before returning to London to study acting at the Drama Centre.

McCrory and Lewis married in 2007 and share a daughter Manon, born in 2006, and son Gulliver, born in 2007.

With reporting by Press Association

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