Helen McCrory on how she fell in love with Damian Lewis ‘Pure chance’

Helen McCrory discusses the Prince's Trust on GMB in March

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Tributes are flooding in for the late Peaky Blinders and Harry Potter star who died after a “heroic battle with cancer”. McCrory, who played Aunt Polly in the BBC crime series, was described as a “beautiful and mighty woman” by her husband. Lewis said his wife “died as she lived. Fearlessly”.

In a statement on Twitter today, Lewis said McCrory “blazed so brightly” during her lifetime and their family felt “lucky” to “have had her in our lives”.

McCrory, who died at 52, was married to the Billions star for 14 years and the couple had two children Manon, 14, and Gulliver, 13.

While much is known about the actress’ on-screen performances, little was shared about her personal life. 

But in one gushing interview last year she revealed it was “love at first sight” when she met Lewis. 

They met while performing in Five Gold Rings at the Almeida Theatre, in London, back in 2003 and married four years later.

McCrory claimed it wasn’t just Lewis’ good looks that attracted her to him but also his humour.

Last year, she told Woman’s Weekly: “He just made me laugh a lot and still does.”

McCrory acknowledged that “everyone in life wants someone to love and to be loved by” – but she felt she was lucky. 

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She doubted her chances of finding a life partner until meeting Lewis due to her busy schedule. 

In 2017 she told the Daily Mail: “Of course, everyone in life wants someone to love and be loved by, but I think I was always just engrossed and involved in work. And no, the timing was pure fluke, pure chance, it always is, isn’t it?” 

During her 52 years, the actress brought countless characters to life including Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter and Cherie Blair in The Queen.

McCrory and Lewis were able to strike a balance between pursuing their acting ambitions and raising a family.

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Woman’s Weekly claimed it was “clear how much Damian loved Helen” during their interview after she revealed an incredible celebration he threw for her 50th birthday.

McCrory recounted being stuck “in bed” on the big day with a “really, really bad cold”.

Her sickness nearly derailed the secret celebration Lewis had planned for her.

On the day, McCrory told him: “Let’s just get a burger and a bottle of red wine and watch telly.”

Without hesitation – despite the hours he plowed into organising her secret bash – he told her: “Ok.”

Fortunately, soon after McCrory realised that she couldn’t let such a big birthday go to waste.

She recalled thinking: “No! I’m 50!” 

McCrory went downstairs only to be greeted by a massive surprise. 

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She said: “And there was everybody waiting for me!” 

When asked if she had “the dreaded midlife crisis” after turning 50, McCrory replied: “Oh, no!

“Why would I do that? The alternative is a lot worse!”

Since her death was announced today, a number of fans have flocked to Twitter to say their goodbyes.

They included the official Peaky Blinders account, which wrote: “All our love and thoughts are with Helen’s family. Rest in peace.”

Top Gear star Paddy McGuiness described McCrory as “supremely talented” in his tribute.

Former Doctor Who actor Noel Clarke wrote: “You were the best and always lovely to me. It was a pleasure to work with you.”

Reverend Richard Coles, of BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live show, said he was “very sorry to hear of the death” and described her as “such a brilliant actor”.

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