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Helen McCrory, versatile actress who dominated the stage and shone on screen in Peaky Blinders and The Queen – obituary

The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer put her in his ‘pantheon of actors whose name in the programme always creates the anticipation of pleasure’

Helen McCrory, who has died of cancer aged 52, made her name as a subtle and intelligent stage performer, and later bucked the trend that consigns actresses to oblivion in middle age, becoming one of Britain’s most sought-after television stars in her 40s.

In the first decade of the new millennium she was hailed as one of the most promising presences in British theatre. Writing in the Telegraph in 2002, Jasper Rees placed her in the tradition of Judi Dench, Zoë Wanamaker and Imelda Staunton as “the small, punchy actress with a voice that can coat a back wall in honey from 100 paces.”

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Helen McCrory on Peaky Blinders and Her Best Supporting Men

Receives Rave Reviews for Every Character She Plays

by Megan Conner| Red Women | September, 2019

SHE WEARS SEQUINS TO THE SCHOOL GATES, HAS A HUSBAND WHO PULLS HIS WEIGHT AND RECEIVES RAVE REVIEWS FOR EVERY CHARACTER SHE PLAYS. ONE MIGHT SAY
HELEN McCRORY IS ACING IT. BUT, AS SHE TELLS MEGAN CONNER, SHE’S NOT ONE TO REST ON HER LAURELS…

Oh yes…’ frowns Helen McCrory, settling her tiny 5ft 2in frame on to a wide couch on the mezzanine level of a photographic studio in north London. ‘For some reason, I said I’d do the interview before the hair and make-up.’ She runs a hand through her crop of wet curls. ‘Now, tell me,’ she instructs, with all the authority of someone who is used to projecting her voice across the country’s greatest theatres, ‘Do I look like a small boy?’

She deadpans, but laughter follows. It’s the morning after one of the biggest annual summer shindigs in London – the Serpentine Summer Party – and McCrory is feeling fragile. ‘Oh, I did get a little lie-in,’ she says, flapping a hand. ‘Damian [Lewis, her husband of 12 years] got the kids to school while I had a shower.’ (So recent is the shower, her hair is still damp.) ‘But I’m thankful for this,’ she says, holding up her takeaway cappuccino. ‘I’ve been waiting for this.’

In truth, McCrory looks marvelous. Today, she’s dressed monochromatically in a pair of wide-leg checked trousers, worn with a hoodie and trainers. Her hair, the shortest I’ve seen on her, makes her look gorgeously gamine.

‘My daughter was a little confused when I picked her up from school yesterday in a pink and white sequinned jumpsuit,’ she says, chuckling. ‘I got her on the way to the party and she said, “Oh, of course.”’ She mimics her 12-year-old rolling her eyes. ‘But they’re used to it by now,’ she explains. ‘I’ll often come down the stairs and Damian will say, “Of course you are. Right let’s go. Your mother’s dressed for the walk in her ball gown again.”’

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Categories Five Gold Rings Interviews Medea Peaky Blinders Print Media

Helen McCrory: ‘There is this assumption that a woman my age can’t be sexy’

On stripping for action at 46 and giving husband Damian Lewis a run for his money

 

Helen McCrory

‘I have only just started doing sex scenes. When I was younger, I would always say no to taking my clothes off. Now I’m 46, I know what the camera is doing,’ said Helen McCrory

‘I love the fact that I get to wear loads of kohl eyeliner, a big hat and shoot a gun,’ says Helen McCrory, talking about her role in the BBC2 series Peaky Blinders.

She plays the matriarchal Aunt Polly in a Twenties Birmingham gangster family and wields a long hatpin with lethal consequences.

It seems only fair after all the fun her actor husband Damian Lewis had playing a war hero-turned-terrorist in Homeland.

Tough, confident and uncompromising in her choice of work, McCrory, like Aunt Polly, is a force to be reckoned with.

She has won numerous awards during an impressive stage and screen career (her credits include Harry Potter, The Queen and several high-profile TV dramas, including Charles II and North Square) and easily holds her own as one half of that formidable partnership with Lewis.

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Five Gold Rings at the Almeida – Review

Joanna Laurens’ “Five Gold Rings” has loftier things in mind than the mere settling of domestic scores

by Matt Wolf | January 4, 2004 | Variety

Not every dysfunctional family drama contains lines like, “It is art to fly speech in the air,” but Joanna Laurens’ Almeida Theater entry “Five Gold Rings” has loftier things in mind than the mere settling of domestic scores. In her sophomore play following her much-praised debut effort “The Three Birds” (which I missed), Laurens wants to reinvent the discourse in such plays, trading in a time-worn naturalism for a heightened language that less charitably inclined playgoers likely will find wearing.

That the evening possesses the considerable fascination it does honors both director Michael Attenborough, in his second consecutive play at this address as Almeida a.d. (following Neil LaBute’s “The Mercy Seat”), and a blue-chip cast of British theater veterans (David Calder) and ascending younger talents (Damian Lewis, Helen McCrory), all of whom are in top form. Sure, “Five Gold Rings” may sound at times as if it has been translated from Latin, but it’s unlikely to encounter more gifted interpreters.

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Five Gold Rings at the Almeida – Review

Five Gold Rings

by Michael Billington | December 19, 2003 | The Guardian

I feel sorry for Joanna Laurens. Having been praised for the poetic inventiveness of her first play, The Three Birds, I suspect she will take a lot of flak for writing a non-naturalistic family drama. Yet, since we sanction all kinds of wild physical theatre, it seems only right that we should find room for linguistic experiment.

Laurens’s play sounds like a conventionally unhappy family reunion. Henry, a penniless patriarch living in a mysterious desert, is attended at Christmas by his two sons and their wives. But both marriages are in trouble; and when the supposedly impotent Daniel is attracted to his childless sister-in-law, Miranda, the skeletons come tumbling out of the family cupboard. Daniel’s plan to flee with Miranda is unwittingly financed by his brother, Simon, which leads to revelations of revenge, rape and incest.

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