Helen McCrory Biography
Helen McCrory OBE was a highly acclaimed English actress, born on August 17th, 1968 in Paddington, London. Her father was a diplomat, and she grew up living in various countries including Norway, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Madagascar, and Paris, due to her father’s job.
After graduating from school, she spent a year in Italy before returning to the UK to pursue her passion for acting.
Helen McCrory studied at the Drama Centre in London and made her stage debut in 1990 in a production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Her talent was recognized when she won third prize at the Ian Charleson Awards for her portrayal of Rose Trelawny in Trelawny of the ‘Wells’ at the National Theatre in 1993.
She continued to earn critical acclaim for her work on stage, including a 2002 nomination for a London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance as Elena in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at the Donmar Warehouse. She regulalrly played in Shakespearean productions across the country, playing Olivia in Twelfth Night and Rosalind in As You Like It in the West End. She also won a Richard Burton award for her performance as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Her success on stage led to roles in film and television, including supporting roles in Interview with the Vampire (1994), Charlotte Gray (2001), The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), and Casanova (2005). In The Queen (2006), she portrayed Cherie Blair, a role she reprised in Peter Morgan’s The Special Relationship (2010).
McCrory also became a familiar face on television, starring in a modern adaptation of Frankenstein (2007) and playing Rosanna Calvierri in the Doctor Who episode “The Vampires of Venice” (2010). She was initially cast as Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but had to withdraw due to her first pregnancy, and was instead cast as Narcissa Malfoy in the following film adaptations. In 2012, McCrory appeared in Bond 23 Skyfall, playing Clair Dowar MP.
In 2013, she began playing Polly Gray in the popular television series Peaky Blinders, a role she would continue throughout the series’ run. She also starred in the National Theatre’s production of Medea in 2014, for which she received critical acclaim. McCrory made a guest appearance in the TV series Penny Dreadful in 2014, and later returned as the main antagonist in the show’s second season.
Helen McCrory’s last major television role was in the ITV drama Fearless, which premiered in 2017. In 2019, she appeared in Tom Rob Smith’s MotherFatherSon alongside Richard Gere and Billy Howle.
In recognition of her contributions to drama, McCrory was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours.
On July 4th, 2007, she married fellow actor Damian Lewis. The couple had two children together, a daughter named Manon and a son named Gulliver.
Tragically, Helen McCrory passed away on April 16th, 2021 at the age of 52, following a private battle with breast cancer. Her husband, Damian Lewis, announced her passing on Twitter, stating that she had died “peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family.” McCrory had chosen to keep her diagnosis private, and only a few close family members and friends were aware of her illness before her passing.
At the time of her death, McCrory was filming for series 6 of Peaky Blinders. As she was unable to complete her scenes, the production was forced to alter the storyline and reshoot certain parts.
Her last appearances include the 2016 production of The Deep Blue Sea at the National Theatre, one episode of the show Have I Got News For You in 2019, and His Dark Materials in 2020.