Helen McCrory
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'Harry Potter' actress Helen McCrory dies at 52 following battle with cancer

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Apr 16, 2021, 1:24 PM EDT

Helen McCrory, the British actress known for playing Draco Malfoy's mother, Narcissa, in the Harry Potter films, has passed away at the age of 52 following a battle with cancer. The unfortunate news was confirmed on Twitter by McCrory's husband of the last 14 years: Billions actor Damian Lewis. 

"I'm heartbroken to announced that after an heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family," Lewis wrote. "She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God, we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you."

"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," wrote the Wizarding World Facebook page. "She was a wonderful actor, a very dear friend, and will be deeply missed."

Born in London, England in August of 1968, McCrory made her onscreen debut in the late 1990s with the U.K. sitcom, Full Stretch. Throughout her 23-year career, she appeared in television, film, and theater projects, which nabbed her accolades from the London Film Critics Circle, Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, Critics’ Circle Theater Awards, Glamour Awards, Satellite Awards, Critics Choice Television Awards, and Shakespeare Globe Awards.

In addition to the Potter movies, her other genre credits include: Fantastic Mr. FoxDoctor WhoPhineas and Ferb, Skyfall, and Penny Dreadful.

“We are devastated to hear of the passing of the extraordinarily talented and gracious Helen McCrory," James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement. We were honoured to have worked with her on Skyfall and send our heartfelt condolences to Damian [and their two children] Manon and Gulliver."

McCrory entered the J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World in 2009 with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. While her role as Narcissa (mother to Tom Felton's Draco, wife to Jason Isaac's Lucius, and sister to Helen Bonham Carter's Bellatrix Lestrange)  was rather small in the sixth film, she received more screen-time in the two-part film adaptation of Deathly Hallows. Despite being deep within Voldemort's inner circle, Narcissa ends up helping bring about the Dark Lord demise when she lies about Harry being dead from the evil sorcerer's Killing Curse.

"It was quite nerve-wracking because obviously, she's in the books all the way along," McCrory remarked in 2014. "They've been established for a long time and so, to come in at the end, I was very, very nervous. Because the fans behind Harry Potter, they've read the books, they're waiting to see the films and you don't want to disappoint and let them down. So, it was quite a lot of trepidation coming into it. But yeah, she's an interesting character because although she's a Malfoy and a Lestrange, her son changes her. What she's about is actually her loyalty to her son. Her redeeming feature is that she is a mother that loves a child more than herself. And also because her son's view of the world changes, she allows it to affect her, and that is good parenting."

Felton, Isaacs, and several other Potter cast members paid tribute to the late actress on social media...

McCrory's final project was in HBO's small screen translation of His Dark Materials, where she voiced Stelmaria (Lord Asriel's snow leopard dæmon).

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, McCrory and Lewis announced LEON, a campaign to help feed front-line workers of Britain's National Health Service. "This, hopefully, is going to be a blueprint that's gonna go nationwide. Everyone can look at their own local hospitals and their own local eateries and think, 'What can we do?'" she said. "One thing we're all on at the moment is online."

She is survived by Lewis and their two children, Manon and Gulliver.

(certain biographical info via IMDb & Variety)