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Playwright David Hare and Peaky Blinders Creator Steven Knight Pay Tribute to Helen

“She Lit Up the Screen”

by David Hare and Steven Knight | Radio Times | April 27, 2021

David Hare Section:

One Saturday night in 1995 I sat down to watch a Screen Two film on BBC2. Streetlife, written and directed by Karl Francis, was about a single mother in a caravan in Wales, struggling to provide for her young child.

Although the material was bleak – Jo kills her child because she despairs of her future – it was played with the most extraordinary humour and vitality by a young actor I’d never seen before. She wore a tiny mini skirt, sparked with brave life, and gave one of the most moving performances I’d ever seen on TV.

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Categories As You Like It Medea Print Media The Deep Blue Sea Tributes

Rufus Norris: ‘In 15 years, I would have loved to have directed Helen McCrory as Prospero’

The Artistic Director of the National – Where McCrory Performed Her Last Major Plays – Recalls the Actor’s Sense of Wickedness and Mischief

Helen McCrory in Medea at the National

Few actors can stand by themselves on the Olivier or the Lyttelton stage and leave an audience thinking: if you are the only thing going on, then I’m happy. Helen McCrory was one of those actors. She appeared eight times at the National Theatre, most recently in Euripides’s Medea and in Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, and she had a rare ability to inhabit and communicate what a character was feeling right to the back of the stalls. People talk about actors having natural magnetism but Helen was simply really, really good at what she did. Her death at the age of 52 has left the industry in utter shock.

Helen adored working at the National. We would often meet for a coffee and discuss parts she might play and, like everyone, I was extremely keen to get her and Damian in a production together. She had tremendous range, just at home with new work such as The Last of the Haussmans – Stephen Beresford’s look at the after effects of the Sixties’ in which Helen played the exasperated daughter of a hippie – as with the classics.

Continue reading Rufus Norris: ‘In 15 years, I would have loved to have directed Helen McCrory as Prospero’

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 Medea Print Media The Deep Blue Sea Tributes Uncle Vanya

How Helen McCrory Shone, Even in a Haze of Mystery

She Was Unforgettable Onstage Playing Seemingly Serene Women Who Rippled With Restlessness

by Ben Brantley | The New York Times | April 17, 2021

Helen McCrory in the National Theater revival of Terence Rattigan’s “The Deep Blue Sea.” Credit: Richard Hubert Smith

Selfishly, my first feelings on hearing that the uncanny British actress Helen McCrory had died at 52 were of personal betrayal. We were supposed to have shared a long and fruitful future together, she and I. There’d be me on one side of the footlights and her on the other, as she unpacked the secrets of the human heart with a grace and ruthlessness shared by only a few theater performers in each generation.

I never met her, but I knew her — or rather I knew the women she embodied with an intimacy that sometimes seemed like a cruel violation of privacy. When London’s theaters reawakened from their pandemic lockdown, she was supposed to be waiting for me with yet another complete embodiment of a self-surprising life.

Ms. McCrory had become world famous for dark and exotic roles onscreen, as the fiercely patrician witch Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies and the terrifying criminal matriarch Polly Gray in the BBC series “Peaky Blinders.” But for me, she was, above all, a bright creature of the stage and in herself a reason to make a theater trip to London.

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Categories Fearless Five Gold Rings Interviews Medea MotherFatherSon Peaky Blinders Print Media

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


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.”’

Continue reading Helen McCrory on Peaky Blinders and Her Best Supporting Men