Helen McCrory, Harry Potter and Peaky Blinders star, dies aged 52

Marni Dixit
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·5-min read

Peaky Blinders and Harry Potter star Helen McCrory has died at the age of 52 following a secret "heroic battle" with cancer, her husband Damian Lewis has confirmed.

The actress, who played Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, died "peacefully" surrounded by her friends and family.

Helen McCrory on the red carpet
Helen McCrory has died at the age of 52 following a secret 'heroic battle' with cancer. Photo: Getty

Damian took to Twitter to share the news, writing: "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."

RELATED

McCrory was awarded the OBE for services to drama in 2017 and was a legend of both the screen and stage.

Some of her popular roles film include playing MP Clair Dowar in Skyfall and Cherie Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship. On TV, she starred in Doctor Who, Inside No 9 and His Dark Materials among others.

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory pose for a photo together
Damian Lewis took to Twitter to share the news, writing, "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." Photo: Getty

Helen and Damian were married in 2007 after falling in love while starring in the play Five Gold Rings at the off-West End Almeida Theatre in 2003. The pair shares a daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13.

The couple were last seen during an appearance on Good Morning Britain just last month to speak about their charity work for the Prince's Trust and the Prince's Trust Awards. They had led fundraising efforts to provide hot meals for NHS staff during the pandemic, leading to almost £1million in donations.

Michael Sheen, who starred with McCrory on ITV drama Quiz, paid tribute, writing, "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. Much love to Damian and her family. Heartbreaking."

Helen McCrory in Peaky Blinders
Cillian Murphy who starred alongside Helen on Peaky Blinders said in a statement, "I am broken-hearted to lose such a dear friend. Helen was a beautiful, caring, funny, compassionate human being." Photo: BBC Studios

Harry Potter author JK Rowling also 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.

"My deepest condolences to her family, especially her husband and children. Simply heartbreaking news."

Cillian Murphy who starred alongside Helen on Peaky Blinders said in a statement, "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. 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."

Rocketman star Taron Egerton shared his own memories of working with Helen, writing, "I did my first job with Helen. It was at the National Theatre in Stephen Beresford's the Last of the Haussmanns.

Jason Isaacs and Helen McCrory in Harry Potter
Harry Potter author JK Rowling said she was "devastated" by the loss. Photo: Warner Bros.

"I played a teenage boy who was besotted with her. It wasn't difficult; she was kind, funny, awe-inspiringly talented and was full of so much life.

"I bumped into her and Damian many times over the past ten or so years and she was always the same; full of warmth, cheekiness and fun.

"I will always remember the scenes we shared in that play. She helped make me a better actor. She was amazing. Condolences to her family."

Comedian Matt Lucas, who worked with the actress on the FeedNHS campaign wrote, "Helen 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 FeedNHS, working tirelessly during the pandemic to raise millions for others. What a tremendous loss."

Helen's passing comes soon after she and Damian appeared on the BBC Coronavirus Newscast podcast to discuss how difficult the pandemic has been.

"We're all doing our bit and not going out. But you feel responsible, you know you're watching the news, we're all reading it, we're all finding out what's happening over the world, and it's so overwhelming...

"It sort of seems, as Damian says, it's fantastical. You think you're absolutely fine, you're pottering along, you're coping with it. Cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking. And you suddenly burst into tears. 

"And it's this fear, and it's the vulnerability coming out, and then you pick yourself up and you go along again as if nothing happened. And it's very surreal."

Never miss a thing. Sign up to Yahoo Lifestyle’s daily newsletter.

Or if you have a story idea, email us at lifestyle.tips@verizonmedia.com.