Actor Damian Lewis has spoken publicly for the first time about the loss of his wife Helen McCrory.
Helen, known for her role as Shelby family matriarch Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders, tragically died of breast cancer at the age of 52 in April last year.
During a poetry event dedicated to his late wife at the National Theatre last night (January 25), the Homeland actor paid tribute to the “one person whose thunder would absolutely not be stolen”.
As reported in The Guardian, Lewis appeared at the event with his and Helen’s children - daughter Manon, 15, and son Gulliver, 14.
The show was called A Poet For Every Day Of The Year, and was based on the poet Allie Esiri’s latest anthology of the same name.
The evening included readings from McCrory’s colleagues and friends, including Simon Russell Beale and Fay Ripley.
Before the show got underway, Damian said: “This evening is dedicated to her and it’s perfect, because Helen loved the National Theatre.
“One person whose thunder would absolutely not be stolen was Helen McCrory,” he added.
He also read the evening’s final verse from a poem by Derek Mahon, saying: “There will be dying, but there is no need to go into that. The sun rises in spite of everything. Everything is going to be all right.”
Esiri told the audience: “We dedicated the evening to Helen, and Damian said a few words, but we just wanted to get on and do the show. It’s what she would have told us to do – ‘OK, enough already, get on with the show!’ She loved poetry and I think she would have been pleased to be kind of here with us. It felt right.
“Damian and Helen really helped to get poetry out to people.
“When you are stuck at home with Covid but can’t quite take on a novel, a lot of people have been turning to poetry. Tonight we chose poems that will hopefully have chimed with people who have been going through a lot over the last two years.”
‘A meteor in our life’
During a stellar on-screen career, Helen was best known for playing powerful women such as Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders, Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films and the home secretary in James Bond film Skyfall.
Following her death in April, Lewis said his wife had “lived by the principle of kindness and generosity” and always took an interest in others and “made them feel special”.
Writing in the Sunday Times at the time, he said: “I’ve never known anyone so consciously spread happiness.
“Even when dying in her last few days, when talking to our wonderful carers, she repeatedly said, ‘thank you so much’ in her half-delirious state.
“She always asked people how they were, always took an interest, made each person she met feel special, as though they were the only person in the room. Gave them her full attention.
“Made them laugh, always. There were few funnier people - she was funny as hell.”
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