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Helen McCrory: In Admiring, Awestruck Memory

We Remember a Great Actress Taken Way Too Soon

This one hurt. No death of course is easy to absorb, especially one as premature and shocking as that of Helen McCrory, whose surrender to cancer late last week, age 52, came like the most brutal and sudden of thunderclaps. The announcement was made via Twitter on Friday by her husband, Damian Lewis, and I doubt I’m the only one who reacted with moist-eyed disbelief, and not only because the couple were familiar, and welcome, faces in our north London neighbourhood.

It seemed only yesterday that I had seen her in the ITV adaptation of the James Graham play Quiz, lending a peppery authority to the role of the Ingrams’ defence barrister, Sonia Woodley. Or as the prime minister, thank you very much, opposite Hugh Laurie in Roadkill: a nice promotion for an actress who had previously played a PM’s wife, Cherie Blair, in the film The Queen.

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Categories As You Like It Print Media The Deep Blue Sea The Seagull Tributes Uncle Vanya

Helen McCrory: ‘If there’s one interesting thing about acting it’s trying to lose your ego’

Three encounters with the great actor who has died at the age of 52

Helena McCrory as Hester Collyer in The Deep Blue Sea at the National Theatre in 2016

Each generation is given an actress who can do everything – be intimate with the camera but also coat a back wall in honey from 100 paces. There was Judi Dench, and then there was Imelda Staunton, both loved by all. Helen McCrory – who has died at the age of 52 – was the next in line, and she was destined to be as great for as long.

Even in her late twenties, when she was barely known, she was already and obviously different. She had a face that seemed prematurely mature and wise. She didn’t look like anyone else, nor sound it. Her voice was a husky instrument that moved between romance and rage. It could seethe and seduce, conquer and coax.

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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 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 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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