Acclaimed British actress Helen McCrory, best known for Peaky Blinders and Harry Potter films, has died, aged 52.
Her husband, actor Damian Lewis, broke the news on social media:
McCrory starred as matriarch Polly Gray in BBC crime drama Peaky Blinders from 2013 – 2019 alongside Cillian Murphy, Paul Anderson, Ned Dennehy and, for two seasons, Sam Neill.
Born in Paddington in west London in 1968 to a Welsh mother and Scottish-born father, McCrory was the eldest of three children. She attended school in southeast England and spent a year living in Italy before studying acting at London’s Drama Centre. A lengthy acting career followed across both stage and screen, including meeting future husband Damian Lewis (Homeland, Billions) in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
In three Harry Potter films she played Narcissa Malfoy, mother of the boy wizard’s school-aged rival. She played Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, in both the The Queen and The Special Relationship, and a fictional British interior minister Clair Dowar in the the James Bond film Skyfall.
Other TV credits included Dead Gorgeous, Trial & Retribution, Fearless, Doctor Who, Inside No 9, His Dark Materials, Life, Penny Dreadful, MotherFatherSon and recently Quiz and Roadkill.
In 2020, McCrory and Lewis led fundraising efforts to provide hot meals for NHS staff during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their work led to almost £1m in donations to the Feed NHS scheme, and partnerships with chains including Leon and Wasabi.
As recently as 6 weeks ago she was on British television alongside Lewis to promote the Prince’s Trust.
There are tributes today from Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Matt Lucas, JK Rowling, Michael Sheen, Sam Mendes and more.
An actor’s job, McCrory once said, was to “reassure the audience that life, as muddled and as wonderful as it is, is worth living”.