Actress Helen McCrory dies of cancer at age 52

The entertainment world is in mourning amid the news that British actress Helen McCrory has died at age 52 following a battle with cancer, as the BBC reports.

Best known for roles in the Harry Potter film franchise and period crime drama Peaky Blinders, McCrory passed peacefully at home last week, according to an announcement on Twitter written by her husband, actor Damian Lewis.

Born in Paddington, Westminster in 1968, McCrory studied acting at the Drama Centre in London and initially focused her work on theatrical stage productions before making big screen breakthroughs in Interview with the Vampire and later The Queen, as the New York Post reported.

McCrory enjoyed a multi-faceted career in which she developed a reputation for portraying strong female characters on both stage and screen. With diverse roles ranging from the wife former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, she was hailed as “unquestionably one of the great actors of her generation” by the artistic director at London’s National Theater, as Reuters noted.

Reaction from those who worked with McCrory over the years responded to the news with glowing tributes, with Peaky Blinders co-star Cillian Murphy saying he was “broken-hearted to lose such a dear friend,” whom he called “a beautiful, caring, funny, compassionate human being,” according to the BBC. The network’s own director of drama, Piers Wegner declared that “Helen was one of the finest actresses this country will ever see.”

Fans of McCrory’s work were stunned to learn of her death, as she had sworn friends to secrecy about her advancing illness in order to remain “fully alive and committed to her charity work that she didn’t want overshadowed by reports on her deteriorating health,” according to close friend and theater director Carrie Cracknell. Just last year, McCrory and her husband raised funds to provide healthcare workers with meals at the height of the pandemic, and she was also heavily involved in philanthropic endeavors associated with the Prince’s Trust, as the BBC noted.

McCrory is survived by her husband and their two children, 14-year-old daughter Manon and 13-year-old son Gulliver. The pair first met while working together on a production of Five Gold Rings at the Almeida Theater in London back in 2003, ultimately marrying in 2007, according to the U.K.’s Sun.

While friends, family, and fans worldwide are certain to miss McCrory’s tremendous charitable and theatrical contributions, her spirit and talents will clearly live on through the impressive body of work she leaves behind.