Categories As You Like It Medea Print Media Trelawny of the Wells Tributes Uncle Vanya

Helen McCrory: ‘One of the great actors of her generation’

As the Worlds of Stage and Screen Mourn the Effervescent Star, Our Chief Theatre Critic Looks Back on a Career – and Life – That Positively Blazed

by Nick Curtis | Evening Standard | April 18, 2021


“She had it all.” This is how the National Theatre’s artistic director Rufus Norris sums up Helen McCrory, whose crushingly sad death from cancer at 52 has robbed London of a woman who dazzled, onstage and off.

Although she found wide fame as Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders and as Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter film franchise – and as half of London’s most glamorous theatre power couple, with her husband Damian Lewis – she was, first and foremost, one of the greatest stage actresses of the age. “Doing theatre is what made my heart sing,” McCrory said, according to Lewis’s own moving tribute this weekend.

Though blessed with superb comic poise, she excelled particularly in tragic roles: her National Theatre appearances alone embraced a poignant Nina in The Seagull (1994), a searing Medea (2014) and a heartbreaking Hester Collyer in Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea (2016), among others, making use of what Sam Mendes this weekend called her “explosive energy”.

Offstage she was wickedly witty, devoted to her friends and to her children, Manon and Gulliver. Her palpable zest for life makes her early death seem all the more unjust. As Lewis heartbreakingly wrote: “I’ve never known anyone able to enjoy life as much.”

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Categories Damian Lewis Feed NHS Personal and Family Life Print Media Tributes

John Vincent, CEO of Leon Restaurants, Reflects On Helen McCrory

FeedNHS Partners

Helen McCrory  CREDIT: Andrew Crowley /Telegraph

In the last year, Helen McCrory became a close colleague as we worked alongside her, her husband, Damian Lewis, and actor Matt Lucas on the #FeedNHS campaign. At the height of the first lockdown we spoke nearly every day and served over a million meals to NHS workers on the frontline.

On Friday afternoon, I was in my office when I heard the news.

My immediate thought was, no, they’ve got that wrong. People must have confused her with someone else. Just the day before, I had been writing about Helen, Damian and Matt, for Letters From Lockdown, a compilation of notes to two children about people’s lives in the past year. How could it be that she had passed away? I was shocked.  

I didn’t know Helen was ill. I don’t know how long she was receiving treatment, nor what type of cancer she had. Part of me wondered if I should have known, if other people knew and I didn’t. Was there something I missed?

Categories Print Media Skyfall Tributes Uncle Vanya

An Explosive Energy: Sam Mendes Pays Tribute to Helen McCrory

Whether Acting in Chekhov on Stage or a Bond film, the Star – Who Has Died Aged 52 – Was Incredibly Exciting to Watch, Remembers the Skyfall Director

by Sam Mendes  | The Guardian | April 18, 2021

‘A force field of energy’ … Helen McCrory in Uncle Vanya at Donmar Warehouse in 2002. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

When I was directing Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night as my final productions as artistic director of the Donmar in 2002, I asked Helen to play the role of Sonya in Uncle Vanya. Word came back that she would love to have a chat about it. She strode into my office, sat on the sofa and immediately told me I had it all wrong. She told me she should be playing Yelena – the other young female role – and then proceeded to spend the next hour telling me exactly why. She left the room with the part. This has never happened to me before or since. All I can say by way of explanation is that it just felt inevitable. She was clearly already half way to giving a superb performance, I simply had to get out of the way and let her complete the job. Which, of course, she did – with utter brilliance.

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Categories Damian Lewis Feed NHS Print Media Tributes

‘In the last 12 months of her life, Helen McCrory used her power to help those who help us

In her final year, living with an illness she kept private, McCrory used her remaining energy to give back

Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis launched a project to provide NHS workers on the frontline with hot meals. Lewis had just halted production on Billions and flown back from New York for lockdown; McCrory had paused filming the sixth series of Peaky Blinders. Parents to two children, they could have been excused a rest. Instead the couple’s campaign #FeedNHS raised more than £1m.

When Lewis announced that his wife of 14 years had died, aged 52, “after an heroic battle with cancer”, that campaign took on an added poignancy: in her final year, living with an illness she kept private, McCrory used her remaining energy to give back.

I interviewed McCrory and Lewis about #FeedNHS exactly a year ago. They were in lockdown in Sudbury, Suffolk, with their children, Manon, 14, and Gulliver, 12, and sounded less like television’s most eminent couple and more like professional fundraisers.

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Categories Print Media The Deep Blue Sea Trelawny of the Wells Tributes

Helen McCrory Remembered: ‘She had a brightness about her. She was a star’

Richard Eyre, the National Theatre Director Who Cast the Actor in Some of Her Earliest Roles, Pays Tribute to Her After Her Death

by Richard Eyre  | The Guardian | April 17, 2021

Helen McCrory. ‘The trumpets will have sounded for her on the other side.’ Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

Part of the tragedy of Helen McCrory dying at such a young age, leaving a husband and two young children, is that professionally she had everything to look forward to. She had established herself as a very considerable actor in the theatre and on film and television.

She had a brightness about her, a luminosity: she was, in short, a star. She lit up a stage or a screen – you knew you were in the presence of a force of character and talent.

When I was running the National Theatre in the 1990s we cast her in a play about the theatre called Trelawny of the Wells – part comedy, part melodrama.

Continue reading Helen McCrory Remembered: ‘She had a brightness about her. She was a star’