Helen McCrory: movie and TV show highlights - from Harry Potter to Peaky Blinders

Helen McCrory’s acting career spanned thirty years with Skyfall, The Queen and Penny Dreadful among her notable credits

Helen McCrory as Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (ITV/Warner Bros)
Helen McCrory as Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (ITV/Warner Bros)

The acting world is in mourning following the death of Helen McCrory.

The actress, who died aged 52 from cancer, carved out a reputation for playing fiery, complex characters on stage and screen.

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Her husband Damian Lewis paid tribute to McCrory who “blazed so brightly”.

From the stage to the screen

She was best known for starring as matriarch Polly Gray in Birmingham-set BBC crime thriller Peaky Blinders and as politician Clair Dowar in the James Bond film Skyfall.

She also portrayed Cherie Blair in both 2006’s The Queen and 2010’s The Special Relationship, royal and political dramas written by The Crown’s Peter Morgan.

Elsewhere, she appeared as Narcissa Malfoy, mother of Draco, in the final three Harry Potter films.

She attended school in Hertfordshire, then spent a year living in Italy, before returning to London to study acting at the Drama Centre.

In 1990 she made her stage debut as Gwendolen Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest at Harrogate Theatre.

She appeared in some 25 productions during the 1990s through to the mid-2010s, with credits including Macbeth, As You Like It and Pride And Prejudice.

Switched Harry Potter roles

McCrory and Homeland star Damian Lewis married in 2007 and had their daughter Manon in 2006 and son Gulliver in 2007.

Her first pregnancy forced her to pull out of Harry Potter And The Order of the Phoenix, in which she had been cast as Bellatrix Lestrange.

The part went to Helena Bonham Carter but McCrory was later cast as Bellatrix’s sister Narcissa.

She also took the role of villainous Rosanna Calvierri in the Doctor Who episode The Vampires Of Venice.

In 2014, she played the title role in the National Theatre’s production of the Greek tragedy Medea, directed by Carrie Cracknell.

The same year she guest starred in TV series Penny Dreadful before returning in the following series as the main antagonist.

In Peaky Blinders she played Polly Gray, aunt of Cillian Murphy’s Tommy Shelby and the treasurer of the Peaky Blinders crime family.

She also lent her voice as a daemon to His Dark Materials on the BBC.

McCrory was made an OBE in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to drama but almost missed the commendation after mistaking the notification letter for an unpaid bill for her husband.

Collecting the honour at Buckingham Palace, she told the PA news agency she was particularly thrilled to receive her gong from the Queen, saying: “I am so excited, I am so elated.”

On April 16, Lewis announced in a statement his wife had died from cancer, describing her as “beautiful and mighty”.