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Michael Sheen leads tributes to ‘passionate’ and ‘funny’ Helen McCrory

Helen McCrory (Jacob King/PA)
Helen McCrory (Jacob King/PA)

Michael Sheen has led tributes to the “passionate” and “funny” actress Helen McCrory, who has died aged 52.

Her husband Damian Lewis revealed on Twitter she died at home following a “heroic battle” with cancer.

Sheen, who worked with McCrory on ITV drama Quiz, praised the actress in a post on social media.

Michael Sheen comments
Michael Sheen (Ian West/PA)

“So funny, so passionate, so smart and one of the greatest actors of our time,” he tweeted.

“From the first moment I met her when we were just kids it was obvious she was very special.

“It was an honour to work with her and know her. Much love to Damian and her family. Heartbreaking.”

William Russell, Lord Mayor of the City of London and the half-brother of Lewis, said: “We will all miss my sister-in-law Helen McCrory.

“I have many fond memories of her. A huge loss to my family as well as to British acting. Thank you for the messages of condolence and sympathy which people have sent.”

The official Twitter account for gang drama Peaky Blinders, which starred McCrory, shared a tribute to the actress.

Alongside a picture of McCrory as Aunt Polly, a message said: “All our love and thoughts are with Helen’s family. Rest in peace.”

Comedian Matt Lucas, who worked with McCrory on the FeedNHS campaign to supply food for NHS staff amid the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic, tweeted: “Helen McCrory will be remembered not just for her remarkable stage and screen performances, but also for her selflessness and generosity.

“She and Damian were the motor driving FeedNHS, working tirelessly during the pandemic to raise millions for others. What a tremendous loss.”

Television presenter Dermot O’Leary said he “had the good fortune to meet and interview Helen McCrory a few times”.

In a tweet, he added: “A mighty talent, with always a hint of mischief.

“Really lovely company. Very sad news.”

Comedian John Bishop, who starred alongside McCrory in ITV drama Fearless, tweeted: “I am shattered to hear this news. Helen was a beautiful supportive person to those of us who had the honour to know or work with her. The world has just lost some of its sparkle.

The Prince’s Trust Awards
(Yui Mok/PA)

“My heart goes out to Damian and the family, no words of condolences will ever be enough.”

Actor Jim Howick, who worked with McCrory and her husband Lewis on the 2015 comedy film Bill, tweeted: “This is so shocking and sad. Helen along with Damien were both terrific fun on Bill.

“She was so generous with her time and her performance. I urge everyone to listen to her Desert Island Disks. What a talent we have lost.”

Paying tribute to McCrory, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recalled her help in unveiling a statue of Millicent Fawcett, where McCrory performed an adaptation of one of the suffragist leader’s speeches.

“So sad to hear this news. Helen McCrory was an unparalleled talent and made a difference to many young Londoners through her charity work,” Mr Khan tweeted.

“I have fond memories of her helping us unveil the statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square. Sending love to her family.”

The Wizarding World Twitter account, home to the Harry Potter franchise, tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our beloved Helen McCrory, who played Narcissa Malfoy with such depth and brilliance in the Harry Potter film series.

“She was a wonderful actor and a very dear friend; Harry Potter fans will miss her very much.”

The actor Kevin McKidd, who starred opposite McCrory in the 2000 TV miniseries Anna Karenina, tweeted: “I am utterly heartbroken to hear this.. Damian I’m sending you and the family all my love and warmth at this time.

“Helen , we love you. Your talent , humanity and passion for life will be remembered by me and everyone your life touched with deep gratitude. Rest In Peace dear one.”

Pinewood Studios, the home of the James Bond films, paid tribute in a statement.

It said: “We’re sad to hear of the untimely passing of British actor Helen McCrory. As well as Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter, she graced Pinewood and Shepperton with her presence for roles in Skyfall, Hugo, Their Finest and many more. Our thoughts are with her family.”

Bafta said it was “sad” to hear of McCrory’s death.

“As well as fearless Polly Gray in BAFTA-winning Peaky Blinders, she was in 2007 Best Film BAFTA winner The Queen, amongst many other films and TV shows,” a post on the film academy’s official Twitter page said.

Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity supported by McCrory and Lewis, said it was “deeply saddened” by the death of the actress.

“We would like to send our condolences to her family and loved ones this evening,” the charity said in a tweet.