Categories Print Media Radio Tributes

Helen McCrory Was a Star of Screen as Well as Stage

There Was Vastly More Depth and Breadth in Her Screen Work than The Queen and Skyfall

by Lawrence Jackson | The Guardian | April 21, 2021

Actor Helen McCrory
Actor Helen McCrory. ‘I liked her immediately’, writes Lawrence Jackson. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

In 2002, I had the luck to direct Helen McCrory (Obituary, 18 April) in a BBC Radio 4 Classic Serial of The Charterhouse of Parma. She was every bit as talented, funny, raucous and generous as everyone says, and more.

My first impression of her was when, upon arrival, she started to debate, with her fellow lead actor, the merits of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the film everyone was seeing at the time. The other performer was cool about it; Helen passionately defended it and said she loved it so much that she stayed in the cinema to watch it a second time.

I liked her immediately and thought: fantastic, she’s brought a real buzz to the production. But her appetite to consume a film twice in a row was also a reflection of her infectious attitude of wanting to make discoveries and take things further.

Memorials and obituaries so far have focused on her achievements on stage; but there was vastly more depth and breadth in her screen work than The Queen and Skyfall. In particular, I would suggest seeing her in Streetlife (Karl Francis, 1995), In a Land of Plenty (Hettie Macdonald, 2001), Charles II: The Power and the Passion (Joe Wright, 2003) and Inside No 9 (S1 E6, 2014).