Damian Lewis Pays Tribute to His 'Brilliant' and 'Utterly Heroic' Late Wife Helen McCrory

Damian Lewis has written a heartfelt and touching tribute to his late wife Helen McCrory.

It was announced Friday that McCrory, the actress known for her roles in Peaky Blinders and the Harry Potter movies, had died following a battle with cancer. She was 52 years old. Lewis wrote on Twitter that she passed away "peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family."

In an article written for U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times, Lewis shared some joyful memories of McCrory, his wife of 14 years and the mother of their two children. "I've never known anyone able to enjoy life as much. Her ability to be in the present and enjoy the moment was inspirational. Nor was she interested in navel-gazing. No real interest in self- reflection; she believed in looking out, not in. Which is why she was able to turn her light so brightly on others," he wrote.

He also praised his late wife for being "funny as hell" and "utterly heroic in her illness." "Her generosity has extended to encouraging us three to live," he wrote. "Live fully, take opportunities, have adventures. Only a couple of weeks ago 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 though the funeral without snogging someone.'"

Tributes to McCrory poured in over the weekend after her death was announced. Her Peaky Blinders co-star Cillian Murphy told London's Evening Standard that "it was a privilege to have worked with this brilliant woman," adding: "She elevated and made humane every scene, every character she played."

McCrory starred in all five seasons of Peaky Blinders as formidable matriarch Aunt Polly, a key player in the Shelby crime family. She also played the spiritualist Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful, guest-starred in the 2010 Doctor Who episode "The Vampires of Venice," and portrayed top British lawyer Sonia Woodley QC in AMC's 2020 miniseries Quiz.

She was also known for playing Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies and portraying Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in 2006's The Queen and 2010's The Special Relationship.

Sir Sam Mendes, who directed McCrory in several stage productions and the 2012 Bond movie Skyfall, paid tribute to her in an article for The Guardian. Explaining why he cast her in Skyfall, he wrote: "I needed an actress who could publicly haul Judi Dench’s M over the coals, whilst also making a roomful of other giant personalities and talents cower. Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Naomie Harris, Javier Bardem – who could impose herself on all of them without a second thought? Of course I thought of Helen, and she didn’t disappoint. On top of which, she was just... fun. It’s an underappreciated trait, but so important in what we do. Helen understood how to take the work seriously, but never yourself."

In 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, she and Lewis partnered with Matt Lucas and restaurant chain owner John Vincent to form Feed NHS, a nonprofit which provides free meals for British healthcare workers. McCrory was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2017 for services to drama.

Rest in Peace, Helen McCrory, and thank you for your contribution.