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 Print Media Reviews Uncle Vanya

Uncle Vanya at Donmar Warehouse – Review

An all-star Cast Perform at the Donmar

by Steve Schifferes | September 19, 2002 | BBC News Online

Helen McCrory, Mark Strong, Emily Watson and Simon Russell Beale

It was luvvies night at the Donmar in London.

The small foyer was crowded with stars as Hollywood film director Sam Mendes launched his last series of plays at the small theatre where he has made his name.

And he did not disappoint them, producing a spectacular version of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, played (as it should be) as a black comedy and paired in repertoire with Twelfth Night.

Simon Russell Beale played Vanya as a bumbling fool, just as he played Hamlet a few years back in a famous production at the National.

Continue reading Uncle Vanya at Donmar Warehouse – Review

Categories Interviews Print Media Uncle Vanya

Mendes’s Dream Team

Helen McCrory talks to Jasper Rees about her roles in Sam Mendes’s valedictory double bill at the Donmar Warehouse

It’s only French actresses who will tell you in that detached, nonchalant way of theirs that, yes, they are beautiful. British actresses are more used to telling you that they’re not.

Take the following strident example. “I think I’m very lucky not to be beautiful,” says Helen McCrory. “I know more actors unhappy about being beautiful than the other way round. I find it really baffling, this modern obsession with people wanting to look good on screen or on stage. Why? Why?” She spits out the words. “I’m an actor, not a model.”

The oddity is that McCrory plays a lot of beautiful women. Yes, she took her first big lead in the television film Streetlife as an owl-eyed, bleach-blonde, child-murdering single mum on a Cardiff sink estate. But her square cheekbones and violently black eyes are better known to television viewers as the face of Anna Karenina, the most head-turning woman ever to hurl herself under a train in the pages of a classic novel.

Continue reading Mendes’s Dream Team