Helen McCrory‘s friend Carrie Cracknell has revealed those close to the Peaky Blinders star ‘were sworn to secrecy’ when it came to her cancer battle.
Discussing her friend’s tragic passing on Saturday, Cracknell, 41 – who is a theatre director – told BBC Radio Four’s Today: ‘Helen wanted to be very private about her illness. Very few people knew. We were sworn to secrecy.’
Touching upon 52-year-old McCrory’s – who passed away on Friday after a ‘heroic’ battle with cancer – resilience, Cracknell continued: ‘She faced up to cancer with a level of bravery and humour that was extraordinary.’
Secret: Helen McCrory’s, 52, friend Carrie Cracknell, 41, has revealed those close to the Peaky Blinders star ‘were sworn to secrecy’ when it came to her cancer battle
Cracknell also said the only reason she had been made aware of McCrory’s diagnoses was because they were planning a Broadway show.
She said: ‘Very few people knew, and I only did because we were planning to transfer a show to Broadway and had to cancel that because she was having treatment.
‘We were sworn to secrecy.’
Cracknell went on: ‘Helen wanted to be very private about her illness and I understand why. When you live in the public spotlight you have to find space to protect the things that are just for you.’
She added: ‘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.’
Tragic: Discussing her friend’s passing on Saturday, Cracknell – who is a theatre director – told BBC Radio Four’s Today: ‘Helen wanted to be very private about her illness’
Helen’s death was confirmed on Friday by her husband Damian Lewis.
The ‘beautiful and mighty’ actress, who played Polly Gray in the Birmingham-based BBC show and Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter, died ‘peacefully’ at home surrounded by friends and family.
Homeland star Lewis tweeted: ‘I’m heartbroken to announce that after a 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.
‘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.’
McCrory, who was awarded the OBE for services to drama in the 2017 New Years Honours, was best known for playing the matriarch Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.
Her other movie roles included playing MP Clair Dowar in Skyfall and Cherie Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship.
On television, she appeared in Doctor Who, Inside No 9 and His Dark Materials, and last year appeared in the Hugh Laurie drama Roadkill on the BBC and ITV’s Quiz.
Tragic: McCrory was best known for playing the matriarch Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films (pictured 2019)
She also had an accomplished stage career, winning plaudits for National Theatre roles in productions of Medea and Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea.
McCrory was also was nominated for an Olivier for her role as Rosalind in As You Like It in at London’s Wyndham’s theatre in 2006.
Her husband led tributes to the star tonight along with JK Rowling, Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton, Cillian Murphy and Kate Beckinsale.
Heartbroken: The Peaky Blinders star passed away after a ‘heroic’ battle with cancer, her husband Damian announced on Friday night
The actress and Lewis married in 2007 after falling in love when they were both cast in the play Five Gold Rings at the off-West End Almeida Theatre back in 2003. Together they share a daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13.
The couple were last seen during an appearance on Good Morning Britain last month, where they appeared to speak about their charity work for the Prince’s Trust and the Prince’s Trust Awards.
McCrory and Lewis led fundraising efforts to provide hot meals for NHS staff during the pandemic. Their work led to almost £1million in donations to the Feed NHS scheme, and partnerships with chains including Leon and Wasabi.
Family: Helen and Damian married in 2007, the actress shared daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13, with the actor (the couple pictured in February last year)
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