Helen McCrory: I thought my OBE letter was a parking ticket!

Helen McCrory: I thought my OBE letter was a parking ticket!

Actress Helen McCrory said she was thrilled to be awarded an OBE as she admitted she first thought the honour was a parking ticket.

The Skyfall star told how she left the first notification letter unopened and was later surprised to receive a phone call asking if she would like to accept the honour.

She told Radio Times: “I got a phone call saying, ‘Oh hello, this is so-and-so, we’re just phoning up to find out if you’re going to accept your honour?’.

“I said, ‘Oh, thank you, what honour?’, and they went, ‘Your OBE’.

Helen (left) launches Their Finest with cast members Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton.
Helen (left) launches Their Finest with cast members Bill Nighy and Gemma Arterton (Matt Crossick/PA)

“It was unopened, I thought it was a parking ticket. Thank God they phoned because you have to say yes or no, and I was like, ‘Yes, yes!’.”

Months after picking up the accolade in December, Helen, 48, will star alongside Michael Gambon and John Bishop as she takes on the role of solicitor Emma Banville in ITV series Fearless.

She told how her husband, fellow actor Damian Lewis, encouraged her to take on the job, describing the Homeland star as the “much more” supportive one of the pair.

But when she decided to take the role, she took her research seriously, even chasing a human rights lawyer down a London street to ask for advice.

She said she “hijacked” him on the train after overhearing his phone conversation and joked: “I followed him off the train at Charing Cross and I was pegging it down Fleet Street and I tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation…’.

Helen and Damian meet the Prince of Wales.
Helen and Damian meet the Prince of Wales (Chris Jackson/PA)

“He looked quite alarmed as he held his bag closer to him.”

After “bribing” him with theatre tickets, she continued: “After a while, he realised that I wasn’t crazy so we met and we talked a few times and I went down to the Old Bailey to sit in on a trial.”

Fearless, the legal thriller written by Patrick Harbinson, will see Emma battle against corruption as she tries to free a convicted child-killer who she believes is innocent.

“I liked that Patrick wrote her as a person rather than necessarily as a woman,” she said. “I think we’re all pioneers as women now because there’s no blueprint.”

Read the full interview in Radio Times, out now.

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