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Helen McCrory, the much-loved English stage and screen star known for roles in Peaky Blinders, The Queen, Skyfall and three Harry Potter films, has died. She was 52.
Her husband, actor Damian Lewis, broke the news Friday.
“Heartbroken to announce that after an heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and might woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “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.”
A regular across stage, TV and film since the 1990s (her first film role was in 1992’s Interview With a Vampire), McCrory first made a name for herself in U.K. theater, landing a London Evening Standard award for best actress in 2002 for Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and an Olivier Award nomination in 2006 for As You Like It.
Following roles in Charlotte Gray and Casanova, her film career hit a high note with her portrayal of Cherie Blair in Steven Frear’s royal biopic The Queen, which saw her earn best supporting actress nomination in 2006 from the London Critics’ Circle. She reprised the role in the follow-up, 2010’s The Special Relationship.
McCrory had been due to play Bellatrix Lestrange in 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but was forced to pull out due to her first pregnancy (the role went to Helena Bonham Carter). However, she was later cast as Bellatrix’s sister Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and also appeared in the final two films of the franchise, both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Other notable films include Skyfall, playing a British MP, Hugo, as French actress Mama Jeanne, and an Alan Rickman-directed period drama, A Little Chaos.
In 2013, McCrory was cast in one of her most famous roles, Shelby family matriarch Polly Gray, in Peaky Blinders, appearing on all five seasons of Steven Knight’s hit crime drama that have aired so far. Most recently, she was seen as a lawyer in the hit ITV miniseries Quiz, based on the 2001 scandal surrounding the U.K.’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire TV competition, and in the BBC thriller Roadkill, alongside Hugh Laurie.
McCrory married fellow actor Lewis in 2007. The couple have a daughter and a son together.
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