Helen McCrory, Harry Potter Star, Dies at 52 After 'Heroic Battle with Cancer,' Says Husband Damian Lewis
"She died as she lived. Fearlessly," Lewis said of his wife in a statement on Twitter
Helen McCrory, who played Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, has died. She was 52.
The British actress's husband, actor Damian Lewis, made the announcement on Twitter in a short and loving statement on Friday.
"I'm heartbroken to announce that after an heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family," Lewis, 50, said.
"She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives," he continued. "She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you."
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McCrory starred as Polly Gray in the series Peaky Blinders opposite Cillian Murphy who mourned her death in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
"I am broken-hearted to lose such a dear friend. Helen was a beautiful, caring, funny, compassionate human being," Murphy, 44. said. "She was also a gifted actor -- fearless and magnificent. She elevated and made humane every scene, every character she played."
"It was a privilege to have worked with this brilliant woman, to have shared so many laughs over the years. I will dearly miss my pal," he continued. "My love and thoughts are with Damian and her family."
McCrory was born in 1968 in London and studied acting at the Drama Centre in the U.K. She frequently appeared on the British stage and TV.
She was initially cast as Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but had to leave the project due to being pregnant. Director David Yates then cast her as Narcissa Malfoy in the final three Harry Potter films.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling also remembered the actress on Twitter, writing, "I'm devastated to learn of the death of Helen McCrory, an extraordinary actress and a wonderful woman who's left us far too soon. My deepest condolences to her family, especially her husband and children. Simply heartbreaking news."
In 2017, McCrory was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services in drama.
Prince Charles's Princes Trust charity commemorated the actress on Friday, tweeting a photo of McCrory, Lewis and the prince from its account, "We are so sad to hear of the passing of our treasured celebrity Ambassador Helen McCrory, who gave so much energy and passion to help us continue changing young lives. Our thoughts are with Damian Lewis and their family at this time."
McCrory also had roles in Martin Scorsese's Hugo as Mama Jeanne and in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall as Claire Dowar.
In 2006, she played Cherie Blair, a British lawyer and wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Oscar-winning film The Queen starring Helen Mirren.
In July 2007, McCrory married Lewis after they met on the production of Five Gold Rings at London's Almeida Theatre in 2003, according to The Guardian.
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The couple has two children, daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13.
McCrory told Woman's Weekly that meeting Lewis was love at first sight, saying, "He just made me laugh a lot. And still does."
In 2020, McCrory and Lewis focused their efforts on fundraising money for meals to provide National Health Service staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Guardian. Their work led to almost £1 million (about $1.3 million) in donations to Feed NHS.