Acclaimed actress Helen McCrory has died aged 52 following a battle with cancer.

The British actress, who starred as Peaky Blinders matriarch Aunt Polly, passed away peacefully at home after a 'heroic battle with cancer'.

Her husband Damian Lewis shared the heartbreaking news in a statement.

Confirming her death, he wrote: "I'm heartbroken to announce that after a heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully as home, surrounded bya. wave of love from friends and family."

He added: "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."

The movie star, who played Clair Dowar in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall and Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter, had been married to fellow actor Damian since 2007.

They shared two children – daughter Manon, 14, and 13-year-old son Gulliver.

Helen's final television appearance was on Good Morning Britain on March 12th.

It saw her and Homeland star Damian speak about their charity work.

She sparked questions among fans at the time as Kate Garraway pointed out she sounded croaky-voiced.

Kate had asked: "Are you alright, Helen? You sound a bit croaky. Have you got a sore throat?"

Helen replied jokingly: "I've got children!"

Damian and Helen raised more than £1million for Feed NHS at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tributes have poured in for the renowned actress after Damian's heartbreaking statement.

Rev Richard Coles was among those paying tribute. He wrote on Twitter: "Very sorry to hear of the death of Helen McCrory, such a brilliant actor; heartfelt condolences to Damian Lewis, their children, and all who loved her."

Actor Jim Howick, who worked with Helen McCrory and her husband Damian Lewis on the 2015 comedy film Bill, tweeted: "This is so shocking and sad. Helen along with Damien were both terrific fun on Bill.
"She was so generous with her time and her performance. I urge everyone to listen to her Desert Island Disks. What a talent we have lost."

Actor and director Noel Clarke said: "RIP Helen McCrory you were the best and always lovely to me. It was a pleasure to work with you. Love ya. Blessings to Damian and the family."

Helen's incredible career began in the 1990s when she first appeared in stage productions including Pride And Prejudice and Macbeth.

She was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list for services to drama in 2017.

Helen played Cherie Blair in both The Queen and in The Special Relationship.

She also played Narcissa Malfoy in the final three Harry Potter movies.

The star appeared in a string of television shows in 2020, including Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? drama Quiz and political thriller Roadkill.

She was the voice of Stelmaria in BBC drama His Dark Materials.

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