'She died as she lived. Fearlessly': Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory dies aged 52

The actress had been battling cancer for some time
'She died as she lived. Fearlessly': Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory dies aged 52

The actress had been battling cancer for some time.

Actress Helen McCrory, best known for starring in Peaky Blinders and the James Bond film Skyfall, has died aged 52.

The actress had been battling cancer for some time.

Her husband and fellow actor Damian Lewis confirmed her death on Twitter and said he was "heartbroken."

"The beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully as home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family," he wrote.

"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."

She is well-known for starring as Aunt Polly in the BBC hit Peaky Blinders alongside Irish actor Cillian Murphy. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
She is well-known for starring as Aunt Polly in the BBC hit Peaky Blinders alongside Irish actor Cillian Murphy. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

McCrory has two children, a daughter Manon, 14, and a son Gulliver, 13.

She is best-known for starring as Aunt Polly in the BBC hit Peaky Blinders, as Clair Dowar in the James Bond film, Skyfall and as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise. 

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.

Actor Cillian Murphy, who starred alongside Helen McCrory in Peaky Blinders, has led tributes to the late actress.

Mr Murphy said he was "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.”

Aisling Bea, who starred with Helen McCrory in the 2020 ITV drama Quiz, tweeted out her condolences.

“Utterly heartbreaking, what a loss," she wrote. 

"Every actor looks & looked up to Helen McCrory – so brilliant and gripping and transformative and those who knew her as a friend really loved her.

“On Quiz last year & she was just so bloody cool, with funny anecdotes & stories and worrying about remembering all her lines.

Helen McCrory as a defence barrister in ITV drama Quiz
Helen McCrory as a defence barrister in ITV drama Quiz

“I could not believe that THE Helen McCrory was pacing up & down, worried about lines, she was so down to earth & openly vulnerable, all for the craft & being as good as possible.

“Then we watched her in the courtroom pretty much do a one-woman monologue and be incredibly excellent and not forget a thing. #RIPHelenMcCrory Thoughts go out to her family and friends.”

Helen McCrory "died as she lived. Fearlessly". Picture: Ian West/PA Wire
Helen McCrory "died as she lived. Fearlessly". Picture: Ian West/PA Wire

Actor Jim Howick, who worked with Helen McCrory and her husband, Damian 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."

Helen McCrory in 2012: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Helen McCrory in 2012: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Rev Richard Coles was among those paying tribute. He wrote on Twitter: "Very sorry to hear of the death of Helen McCrory, such a brilliant actor; heartfelt condolences to Damian Lewis, their children, and all who loved her."

Actor and director Noel Clarke said: "RIP #HelenMcCrory you were the best and always lovely to me. It was a pleasure to work with you. Love ya. Blessings to Damian and the family."

- additional reporting from PA

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