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Helen McCrory: Peaky Blinders actress dies at age 52, husband Damian Lewis says

Pictured Helen McCrory stars of Peaky Blinders attend a red carpet event at Birmingham Town Hall this evening to premier the return of the BBC tv drama for season 5. Aunt Polly. Played by Helen McCrory along with other stars of the hit show. Thursday 18th July 2019. 18 Jul 2019

media captionHelen McCrory: The BBC’s David Sillito looks back on her life and career

Actress Helen McCrory, known for her roles in Peaky Blinders and three Harry Potter films, has died of cancer at the age of 52, her husband, the actor Damian Lewis, announced.

He said he was “heartbroken”, and that she was a “beautiful and mighty woman”.

He wrote: “She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you.”

Harry Potter author JK Rowling led the tributes, writing that it was “simply heartbreaking news”.

McCrory was also known for her long and acclaimed career on stage, and the National Theatre’s artistic director Rufus Norris said she was “unquestionably one of the great actors of her generation”.

media captionHelen McCrory starred as Aunt Polly in all five series of Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight said: “Helen was one of the great actors of her generation. She was so powerful and controlled and this is so sad.”

Cillian Murphy, who played Tommy Shelby in the show, added he was “broken-hearted to lose such a dear friend”, describing her as “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,” he said, adding it was “a privilege to have worked with this brilliant woman… I will dearly miss my pal”.

BBC director of drama Piers Wenger added: “Helen was one of the finest actresses this country will ever see.”

Homeland star Lewis said she had died “after an 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 family and friends,” he said.

“She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and we know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives.”

McCrory married Homeland star Lewis in 2007 and they had two children. Last year, the couple raised more than £1m to provide NHS workers with meals from high street restaurants during the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.

Comedian Matt Lucas, who worked with them on the FeedNHS campaign, tweeted that she “will be remembered not just for her remarkable stage and screen performances, but also for her selflessness and generosity”.

In April 2020, McCrory and Lewis appeared on the BBC’s Newscast and she explained why they set up FeedNHS.

With Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy (left) and Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“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. And the hours they were doing were longer and longer, and they weren’t able to get food.

“We decided we wanted to try and get food to these people working such long hours and weren’t able to.”

The couple also appeared just weeks ago on Good Morning Britain, to talk about charity work for the Prince’s Trust.