Damian Lewis on Helen McCrory’s final heartbreaking message to her family
Helen McCrory, who was known for her roles in the Harry Potter franchise and as Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders, died on Friday at the age of 52.
In a beautiful tribute to his wife, written in the Sunday Times today, actor Damian Lewis has described her as “shining more brightly in the last months than you would imagine ever the brightest star could shine.”
He paid tribute to the Queen actress’ “fearlessness, wit, curiosity, talent and beauty” after the actress died following a private cancer battle. The couple met in 2003 during a theatre performance of Five Gold Rings in London and have two children together.
“Shas been utterly heroic in her illness,” the Billions and Homeland star wrote today in the emotive tribute piece. “She’s shone more brightly in the last months than you would imagine even the brightest star could shine.” Lewis said he admired how his wife had lived her life “by the principle of kindness and generosity”.
“I’ve never known anyone so consciously spread happiness. To say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re so kind’ as much as she did,” Lewis wrote. “Even when dying in her last few days, when talking to our wonderful carers, she repeatedly said, ‘thank you so much, in her half-delirious state.”
“I’ve lived the life I wanted to”
And in her final months, Lewis said “her greatest and most exquisite act of bravery and generosity has been to ‘normalise’ her death”. “She’s shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad because she is happy,” he wrote.
“I’m staggered by her. She’s been a meteor in our life.”
Lewis also revealed McCrory’s message to her children during the final days of her illness. “She has exhorted us to be courageous and not afraid. As she said repeatedly to the children, ‘Don’t be sad, because even though I’m about to snuff it, I’ve lived the life I wanted to’.”
“You must all love again”
He added that McCrory had talked about his own future relationships with women. “She said to us from her bed, ‘I want Daddy to have girlfriends, lots of them, you must all love again, love isn’t possessive, but you know, Damian, try at least to get through the funeral without snogging someone.”
Tributes have been paid to the 52-year-old over the weekend. Sam Mendes, who directed her in an acclaimed production of Uncle Vany praised her “explosive energy” on stage.
While Sam Neil, who starred alongside her in Peaky Blinders, wrote on Twitter, “Devastated my friend Helen McCrory has died. That brilliant woman – the greatest of actors. I so loved our time on Peaky Blinders. She was witty, kind, skilled. Riotously funny… and so damn cool. So young. Heartbroken for Damien and her family.”