The passing of the beloved Brit, who played Aunt Polly Elizabeth Gray on the hit TV drama, was announced by her actor husband Damian Lewis on Twitter on Friday when he shared the sad news that she had lost her “heroic battle” with cancer, and Knight was among the first to pay his respects, calling the show’s leading lady: “one of the great actors of her generation”.
“She was so powerful and controlled and this is so sad,” Knight said, while a statement from the show’s producers on the official Peaky Blinders Twitter account read: “All our love and thoughts are with Helen’s family. Rest in peace.”
Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling also paid her respects to McCrory, who appeared as both Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy in the film adaptations of her books.
“I’m devastated to learn of the death of Helen McCrory, an extraordinary actress and a wonderful woman who’s left us far too soon,” the author wrote, adding: “My deepest condolences to her family, especially her husband and children. Simply heartbreaking news.”
A tribute from the BAFTA organisation read: “We’re sad to hear of the death of actor Helen McCrory. As well as fearless Polly Gray in BAFTA-winning Peaky Blinders, she was in 2007 Best Film BAFTA winner The Queen, amongst many other films and TV shows.”
And Michael McKean, Mark Gatiss, and Reece Shearsmith were also quick to pay their respects on Friday, while Michael Sheen wrote: “So funny, so passionate, so smart and one of the greatest actors of our time. From the first moment I met her when we were kids it was obvious she was very special. It was an honour to work with her and know her…”
Homeland star Lewis penned: “I’m heartbroken to announce 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.”