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Helen McCrory dies: what where her most famous roles? Peaky Blinders, Harry Potter...

The actor, who played a number of iconic roles in British television as well as starring in blockbusters like Skyfall, has passed away at the age of 52.

Helen McCrory dies: what where her most famous roles? Peaky Blinders, Harry Potter...
Chris Jackson Getty Images

The actor Helen McCrory, best known for her roles in The Queen, the Harry Potter franchise and Peaky Blinders, has died aged 52. The news was announced by her husband, Damian Lewis, on Twitter on Friday.

Lewis, who is also a prominent actor, confirmed that McCrory had died “peacefully at home… after an heroic battle with cancer.”

He went on to say that she had “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”.

Tributes pour in for “an absolute true original”

Helen McCrory was born in Paddington, London in 1968 to a Welsh mother and Scottish father. In her early life she spent time abroad living in Italy, before returning to Britain to study acting at the Drama Centre in London.

She garnered an impressive reputation for theatre performances in the capital, winning Third Prize at the Ian Charleston Awards in 1993 for her part in Trelawny of the ‘Wells’ at the National Theatre, and was nominated for an Olivier for her stage role as Rosalind in As You Like It in 2006.

She is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Polly Gray in the BBC’s iconic period drama Peaky Blinders, in which she starred for five seasons.

Her co-star, Cillian Murphy, said of McCrory: “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.

She also played Narcissa Malfoy, the wife of Lucius Malfoy and Draco's mother, in the Harry Potter film franchise and MP Clair Dowar in the 2012 James Bond blockbuster Skyfall. Sir Sam Mendes, who directed the latter, described McCrory as "an astonishing talent, a fabulous person, and an absolute true original".

Philanthropist McCrory raised millions during the pandemic

Aside from her professional achievements, McCrory was also known for her work and remained an active supporter of charitable causes in the final months of her life. Actor Matt Lucas, who worked with McCrory on some ventures, said that McCrory “will be remembered not just for her remarkable stage and screen performances, but also for her selflessness and generosity.”

In April of last year McCrory and Lewis formed their own FeedNHS initiative, which aimed to support essentials workers during the pandemic.

In an appearance on the BBC's Newscast, McCrory explained the motivation: "We've got lots of friends in the NHS and when this outbreak happened, they said one of the big problems they had was all the cafes and restaurants around the hospitals were closing.

"We decided we wanted to try and get food to these people working such long hours and weren't able to."

As well as Lewis, her husband since 2007, Helen McCrory is survived by their two children, Manon and Gulliver.