Helen McRory has died of cancer at age 52. The actor, who was known for playing Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise, died in her home. Her death was announced on April 16, 2021.
McRory’s husband Damian Lewis confirmed the news on Twitter, calling himself “lucky” to have known her. “I’m heartbroken to announce that after an 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,” the Homeland actor wrote.
“She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and we know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives,” Lewis continued, before concluding: “She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you.”
Friends and fans were quick to pay tribute to McCrory. “I’m so sorry, Damian. She was just wonderful,” the actor Mathew Baynton replied. “I feel so lucky to have had the chance to meet and work with her. She was so brilliant, fun and supportive.”
She is survived by Lewis, as well as her children, Manon and Gulliver.
Helen McCrory was beloved for her roles in Peaky Blinders and Harry Potter
According to The Guardian, Helen McCrory was born in London and studied acting at the Drama Centre.
She began her prolific and critically lauded career on the stage, receiving an Olivier nomination in 2006 for her performance as Rosalind in As You Like It. McCrory went on to portray Cherie Blair, wife of prime minister Tony Blair, in the films The Queen and The Special Relationship opposite Helen Mirren.
Her film career also led her to appear in the James Bond film Skyfall and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. McCrory then won over a generation of Harry Potter fans by playing Narcissa Malfoy, the matriarch of the villainous Malfoy family, in three movies. Per The Hollywood Reporter, she was originally cast as Bellatrix Lestrange before her pregnancy interfered with filming.
On the small screen, McCrory led the cast of Peaky Blinders as the fearless criminal gang leader Polly Gray. As Variety reported, she also appeared in series like Penny Dreadful, Doctor Who, North Square, and His Dark Materials. Her last on-screen performances were in the BBC political drama Roadkill and ITV’s Quiz, per The Guardian.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Britain in 2020, McCrory and her husband Damien Lewis turned from acting to philanthropy. They raised almost £1 million in donations for the Feed NHS scheme, which provided hot meals for healthcare workers.
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