Helen McCrory: 'Mighty' Tufnell Park actor dies aged 52

Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis at the Highgate Christmas Festival in 2013

Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis at the Highgate Christmas Festival in 2013 - Credit: Polly Hancock

Tufnell Park actor Helen McCrory has died, her husband Damian Lewis has confirmed. 

Ms McCrory was an accomplished stage and screen actor who shone in blockbusters like the Harry Potter films, the TV drama Peaky Blinders, and was frequently garlanded for her theatre work. 

Helen McCrory, who has died aged 52, according to her husband Damian Lewis

Helen McCrory, who has died aged 52, according to her husband Damian Lewis - Credit: PA

She was also a familiar face around north London, including spending time as a patron of the Sir Hubert von Herkomer Arts Foundation charity, and even turning on the Highgate Christmas lights - with her husband - in 2013.

She was made an OBE in the 2017 New Year's Honours list, and had been suffering with cancer before her death. 

Helen McCrory, who has died aged just 52, with husband Damian Lewis at the Highgate Christmas Festival in 2013

Helen McCrory, who has died aged just 52, with husband Damian Lewis at the Highgate Christmas Festival in 2013 - Credit: Polly Hancock

Her husband Damian Lewis said in a statement on social media: "“I’m heartbroken to announce that 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 friends and family.

"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."

The couple have two teenage children.

Comic and actor Matt Lucas led the tributes, thanking Helen for her drive during the #FeedNHS campaign which they both worked on during the height of the pandemic. 

He tweeted: “Helen McCrory will be remembered not just for her remarkable stage and screen performances, but also for her selflessness and generosity.

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“She and Damian were the motor driving FeedNHS, working tirelessly during the pandemic to raise millions for others. What a tremendous loss.”

Rufus Norris, the artistic director of the National Theatre, said Helen McCrory was “unquestionably one of the great actors of her generation”.

“We are devastated to hear of the passing of Helen McCrory, unquestionably one of the great actors of her generation,” Mr Norris said in a statement.

“Helen had a long and rich association with the National Theatre, including most recently a towering performance as Medea and a definitive Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea.

“With her incisive wit and ferocious intelligence, she was one of the most charismatic and distinctive performers. She was also a deeply beloved member of this theatre’s broader community.

All my colleagues join me in wishing her family and friends our deepest condolences. We are shattered, and will all miss her terribly.”

William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London and the half-brother of Damian Lewis, said: “We will all miss my sister-in-law Helen McCrory. I have many fond memories of her. A huge loss to my family as well as to British acting. Thank you for the messages of condolence and sympathy which people have sent.”

And Sadiq Khan recalled the role she played unveiling a statue of Millicent Fawcett,

"Helen McCrory was an unparalleled talent and made a difference to many young Londoners through her charity work,” Mr Khan tweeted.

“I have fond memories of her helping us unveil the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square. Sending love to her family.”

Others to pay tribute included the actor and director Noel Clarke. 

He tweeted: "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."

Michelle Collins, another north London actor, also shared her sadness at the news. 

She tweeted: “I’m really shocked so so sad I had the pleasure of meeting her and briefly worked with her, she certainly was a Tour de force, clever, charming and fierce and a brilliant actor my heart goes out to Damian and her family, bloody cancer I hate you!!”

The Rev'd Richard Coles added: “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 Jim Howick, who worked with her on the 2015 film Bill, tweeted: “This is so shocking and sad. Helen along with Damian 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.”

If you knew or loved Helen and would like to pay tribute, please write to editorial@hamhigh.co.uk

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