After a Long Battle with Cancer, Hollywood Actress Helen McCory Passes Away
By: Samantha Bravo
Best known for her roles as Narcissa Malfoy from the “Harry Potter” franchise and Pollyanna Grey from “Peaky Blinders”, Helen McCory tragically passed away at the age of 52 on April 16th, 2021 after her long battle with cancer. The news has devastated her family, colleagues, and fans alike.
McCory was one of the most respected actresses in the UK and was widely known for playing strong and intimidating female roles. She has stated that there is a lot of misogyny within the industry and expressed the struggles of finding powerful female roles in movies and television.
“Having said that, there are a lot of things I turned down,” McCory told The Associated Press in a 2016 interview. “All your lines are ‘But what did you do at work?’ ‘That’s so clever, darling’ ‘How did you do that’ ‘And then what did you do?’”
Before going into movies and television, McCory was also known for her live stage performances at the National Theatre in the UK. Her last two roles on stage were as “Medea”, the titular character from Euripides’ Greek Tragedy and as Hester Collyer in a revival of Terrence Rattigan’s 1952 modern classic, “The Deep Blue Sea.”
“Helen was one of the greatest actors of her generation,” said Steven Knight, the creator of “Peaky Blinders.” “She was so powerful and controlled and this is so sad.”
J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” novels and stars from the famous movie franchise have also paid their respects to her on social media. Tom Felton who played Draco Malfoy, thanked her for guiding her on and off the screen and praised her for her “razor sharp wit” on Instagram.
Her final TV appearance was when she was interviewed by English Broadcaster, Kate Garraway on “Good Morning Britain” where they spoke about her and her husband, Damian Lewis’ charity work. It was also where she showed signs of her debilitating illness.
During her interview with McCory, Garraway noticed that she had a croaky voice and looked extremely pale. Shockingly, the news of McCory’s cancer diagnosis and ongoing treatment was confirmed days after the day of her passing.
During a radio tribute, one of her former directors, Carrie Cracknell said that McCory told very few people about her diagnosis. McCory also said that she did not want her illness to overtake her personal and professional life.
Cracknell stated that the reason why she was the only person who knew was because when they were planning to transfer a show to Broadway, they had to cancel because McCory was undergoing treatment. She was one of the few people who “swore to secrecy.”
“Her need to be fully alive and be committed and to take things incredibly seriously, such as her family and charity work defined her last few years for her as much as ever,” said Cracknell.
Before she died, McCory has repeatedly told her family, including her husband and children to be courageous and to not be sad about her death. She wanted her children to know that even though she was “about to snuff it”, she had still lived the life she wanted to.
McCory’s husband, Lewis says he was also distraught by the news, saying that he was deeply heartbroken and describing her as a “beautiful and mighty woman.” He was the first person to announce the news of her death on Twitter that Friday Night.
“She died as she lived. Fearlessly,” Lewis wrote. “God, we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you.”