Categories Medea Old Times Peaky Blinders Print Media The Deep Blue Sea Tributes Uncle Vanya

Helen McCrory would have been the next Helen Mirren or Judi Dench

The actress leaves an extraordinary body of work, but there is no doubt that she had so much more to give

The wonder for me about Helen McCrory – whose passing, at 52, is so cruel, so sad, such a profound and premature loss to the acting profession – is how relatively long it took for people to cotton on to her magnificence.

I was lucky enough to visit the Tricycle, north London one winter evening in 1995 and see her star as Lady M in Macbeth. In fact, of course, she wasn’t then the “draw” – here was, surprisingly enough, a Shakespeare production at a major off-West End venue renowned for its contemporary political work. It was an oddity from artistic director Nicolas Kent. Yet within the space of a couple of hours, I emerged with her name on my lips, and the surest conviction that I had set eyes on one of the greats.

Here was an actress who was so intense, so spellbinding, so caught up in every moment of every scene she was in that it was as though she carried a lifetime’s acting experience within her: but she was just in her mid-20s. Her flintiness illuminated every line it sparked off.  Rapt, I ended my review of that dark, sinister torch-lit night, referencing the sleepwalking scene, saying that “it is the sight of McCrory alone, scurrying restlessly round in the dark and hugging a single flame, that burns a lasting image of unstoppable evil onto your retina.”

Categories Print Media Theatre Tributes Uncle Vanya

Truly, we have lost a luminous talent in Helen McCrory

Helen was nothing if not a giver of care but, of course, she excelled as an actress

In my mind’s eye, I see her making a slow entrance on to the Donmar Warehouse stage as Yelena in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.

No wonder Simon Russell Beale’s Vanya has his tongue hanging out; Helen McCrory utterly commanded the stage in that moment. Wide-brimmed hat, long brocaded gown, she echoed a sense of Greta Garbo with the glamour of Marlene Dietrich.

This was one of artistic director Sam Mendes’s farewells at the Donmar in London, before he went on to direct two Bond movies. I chatted about it later with Helen and she explained: ‘Darling, that was Sam’s doing. I chose the hat and he choreographed the walk.’

Categories Peaky Blinders Print Media Tributes

So long, Aunt Polly

Remembering ‘Peaky Blinders’ star Helen McCrory

by James McMahon | April 16, 2021 |

It’s a gross failing of Britain’s entertainment industry that there’s a time of life when women fall off our screens. There’s no absence of roles for twenty, thirty and forty-somethings. Turn 60 and, if you’re lucky, you can navigate the journey to retirement via the sort of roles Helen Mirren or Dame Judy Dench have made their own. But in your fifties? Not so much. If you’re a woman in your fifties who likes sex? Drinking? Y’know, an authentic representation of a woman in middle age? No chance.

It would be wrong to say that Helen McCrory – who has died aged 52 from cancer – changed this. But her role as Peaky Blinders’ chain-smoking matriarch Polly Gray has made such an impact that it will surely lead to future change. Her casting as Aunt Pol in the interwar crime drama went under the radar in 2013; the show’s lead, Cillian Murphy was a far bigger name. But it was far from undeserved. Anyone who has three Harry Potter movies on their resumé, an acclaimed West End career, has worked with the great Martin Scorsese (in 2011’s Hugo) and played her part in making 2012’s Skyfall the best Bond movie of the modern era is worthy of a punt.

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Categories Awards Charity Print Media Theatre

Evening Standard and TikTok join forces for £120k fund to support theatre talent of the future

Helen McCrory is among the panelists for the Future Theatre Fund

by Robert Dex | November 26, 2020 | The Evening Standard

 The Evening Standard has joined forces with TikTok to launch a £120,000 fund to support the next generation of theatre stars, who are struggling under the impact of Covid-19.

High-profile figures including award-winning actress Helen McCrory, theatre supremo Andrew Lloyd Webber and Young Vic boss Kwame Kwei-Armah have joined the panel to help decide who receives the 12 grants, each of £10,000.

McCrory said: “It’s fantastic that these funds have been set aside to help the next generation of actors, directors and artists waiting to get on the ladder. These are the young people without support just leaving college or just starting out, who are treading water until theatres, studios and galleries reopen. These prizes of £10,000 each will be an absolute lifeline. Good luck to all the entries.”

Continue reading Evening Standard and TikTok join forces for £120k fund to support theatre talent of the future