British actress Helen McCrory, whose notable TV credits included turns on Peaky Blinders and Penny Dreadful, has died of cancer. She was 52.
McCrory’s husband, Billions star Damian Lewis, shared the news in a tweet on Friday, writing, “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.”
In recent years, McCrory was perhaps best known on the small screen for playing Shelby family matriarch Aunt Polly on Peaky Blinders, a role she played through Season 5. But her long list of credits also included Penny Dreadful, where she stole scenes as the villainous Madame Kali, Anna Karenina, Fearless and Life, which starred Lewis as protagonist Charlie Crews. Her final credit was the voice of dæmon Stelmaria on HBO’s His Dark Materials.
“Helen’s performance as Polly Gray was inspirational, joyous, transgressive, hilarious and incredibly moving,” reads a statement on Peaky Blinders‘ official Twitter page. “As a person she was off-the-scale charismatic, and deeply caring. We feel so privileged to have worked with her over the last decade. All our thoughts and love are with Damian and family.”
McCrory’s prolific career included many film roles, as well, such as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter series and Cherie Blair in The Queen. She also appeared in such stage productions as Macbeth, Pride and Prejudice, Twelfth Night and the Greek tragedy Medea, in which she played the title character in 2014.
In addition to Lewis, McCrory is survived by daughter Manon and son Gulliver.