Actress Helen McCrory OBE, best known for her role in Peaky Blinders as Polly Gray and the Harry Potter films as Narcissa Malfoy, mother to Draco, has died after a “heroic battle with cancer”, her husband Damian Lewis has said.
McCrory and fellow actor Lewis, star of dramas including Homeland and Billions, married in 2007 and the couple had two children. She was made an OBE in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to drama.
Stars have been paying tribute on social media, with her Peaky Blinders co-star Cillian Murphy describing her as a “gifted actor” and a “brilliant woman”.
“I am broken-hearted to lose such a dear friend. Helen was a beautiful, caring, funny, compassionate human being,” he said in a statement.
“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.”
Actor Jim Howick, who worked with both McCrory and Lewis on the 2015 comedy film Bill, said they were both “terrific fun”, adding: “What a talent we have lost.”
The Wizarding World Twitter account, home to the Harry Potter franchise, described the star as “a wonderful actor and a very dear friend” and added: “Harry Potter fans will miss her very much.”
Actor and director Noel Clarke posted: “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.”
Former EastEnders and Coronation Street actress Michelle Collins said she had briefly worked with McCrory and described her as “a tour de force, clever, charming and fierce and a brilliant actor”.
Kevin McKidd, who starred opposite McCrory in the 2000 TV miniseries Anna Karenina, tweeted: “I am utterly heartbroken to hear this. Damian I’m sending you and the family all my love and warmth at this time.”
Comedian John Bishop, who starred with McCrory in the drama Fearless, said he was “shattered” by the news.
“Helen was a beautiful supportive person to those of us who had the honour to know or work with her. The world has just lost some of its sparkle,” he wrote.
Actor Michael Sheen, who worked with the star on ITV drama Quiz – which told the story of the infamous Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? cheating scandal – described her as: “So funny, so passionate, so smart and one of the greatest actors of our time.
“From the first moment I met her when we were just kids it was obvious she was very special. It was an honour to work with her and know her. Much love to Damian and her family. Heartbreaking.”
Comedian Matt Lucas, who worked with the star on the FeedNHS campaign to supply food for NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, said she would be remembered “not just for her remarkable stage and screen performances, but also for her selflessness and generosity”.