Harry Potter and Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory died after a long cancer battle on Saturday at the age 52 – though most of her friends and fans were shocked to hear she had been unwell.

McCrory’s husband and fellow actor Damien Lewis announced on Saturday she had died “peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family” following a “heroic cancer battle”.

She was a renowned actress, who played the role of Narcissa Malfoy, the mother of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise, and the matriarch in period gangster Tv show Peaky Blinders.

While paying tribute to the actress, theatre director Carrie Cracknell revealed that McCrory’s friends were “sworn to secrecy” about her struggle with cancer, the BBC reports.

Cracknell told the BBC that “very, very few” people knew about McCrory’s illness because she didn’t want to take the spotlight away from her other work – including her charity initiatives.

Helen McCrory - known for her roles in Harry Potter movies, the James Bond film Skyfall and the Peaky Blinders television series - has died at the age of 52 after a “heroic battle” with cancer, her husband Damian Lewis says.
Helen McCrory – known for her roles in Harry Potter movies, the James Bond film Skyfall and the Peaky Blinders television series – has died at the age of 52 after a “heroic battle” with cancer, her husband Damian Lewis says. Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage
Director Carrie Cracknell was a close friend of McCrory and was in one the “secret”.
Director Carrie Cracknell was a close friend of McCrory and was in one the “secret”. Credit: Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/Getty Images

McCrory wanted to be “fully alive and committed” to her charity work, according to Cracknell.

In fact, just six weeks ago, McCrory appeared on TV to promote the UK charity the Prince’s Trust, with no indication she had a terminal diagnosis.

During her live video appearance on Good Morning Britian, the host noted that McCrory’s voice was “a bit croaky”.

“I’ve got chlidren! Thank you for asking,” McCrory replied, giving nothing away.

Helen appeared on Good Morning Britain and to all intents and purposes, nothing was wrong.
Helen appeared on Good Morning Britain and to all intents and purposes, nothing was wrong. Credit: Good Morning Britain
She joined the “Harry Potter” family in “The Half-Blood Prince,” playing Narcissa Malfoy, the mother of Draco Malfoy
She joined the “Harry Potter” family in “The Half-Blood Prince,” playing Narcissa Malfoy, the mother of Draco Malfoy Credit: GETTY

“Helen wanted to be very private about her illness and I understand why,” Cracknell told the BBC in her tribute.

“When you live in the public spotlight you have to find the space to protect the things that are just for you.

“And certainly that was, it was for her and her family and her very closest friends.”

Cracknell was friends with McCrory and had directed her in a stage play, Medea.

Helen McCrory with some members of the “Peaky Blinders” cast.
Helen McCrory with some members of the “Peaky Blinders” cast. Credit: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images
Helen McCrory was a renowned film actress with a slew of awards to her name.
Helen McCrory was a renowned film actress with a slew of awards to her name. Credit: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

The British star also appeared in the James Bond film “Skyfall,” Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” and played Cherie Booth, wife of U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, in “The Queen” and “The Special Relationship.”

In addition to her film and TV roles, McCrory began her career on stage and appeared in more than 25 productions during the 1990s through the mid-2010s. Her stage credits included “Macbeth,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “As You Like It,” “Medea” and many more.

She joined the “Harry Potter” family in “The Half-Blood Prince,” playing Narcissa Malfoy, the mother of Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and wife to Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs). She reprised the role in the two-part finale of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

“Harry Potter” writer J.K. Rowling paid tribute to McCrory on Twitter, calling her “an extraordinary actress and a wonderful woman who’s left us far too soon.”

– With AAP

‘Sworn to secrecy’: Why Harry Potter star kept cancer battle secret
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