Before dying, actress Helen McCrory repeatedly urged her teenage children to be brave and not be sad about her death, said her husband Damian Lewis.
In a moving tribute to the Peaky Blinders star, Lewis said, “He left our beautiful children, Manon and Gully, too soon, but they were ready for life.”
Writing in the sunday timesLewis said: “She has exhorted us to be brave and not be afraid. As I repeatedly told children, ‘Don’t be sad, because even though I’m about to turn it off, I’ve lived the life I wanted.’
McCrory, who was also known for her roles in the films The Queen, The Special Relationship and the Harry Potter franchise, died of cancer on Friday at the age of 52. He vowed to his friends that they would keep a secret about the disease while he underwent treatment, according to Carrie Cracknell, who directed McCrory in a 2014 production of Medea.
Lewis, himself an actor, acknowledged that keeping his condition private had caused a “torrent of pain and shock.”
He noted that the grief for McCrory had not been overshadowed by Prince Philip’s funeral. “On a weekend when the newspapers will rightly pay their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh, thousands of people around the world have been remembering my Duchess, my little one, royalty in her own right.”
Lewis said he wanted to focus on his wife’s professional and personal accomplishments. “Helen was an even more brilliant person than an actress,” he said, describing her as a “meteor in our life.”
Lewis wrote: “Her nickname for many was Dame Helen (sorry, Dame Helen), and while we will never know now if that would have become a reality, I think secretly, we do.”
Lewis said McCrory was “tremendously proud to be an artist, an actress.” She said that she was most proud of her work on stage. McCrory had said that “doing theater is what made my heart sing,” Lewis recalled.
Sam Mendes, who directed McCrory in an acclaimed Uncle Vanya production, praised his “explosive energy” on stage. Writing in The Guardian, Mendes said that he had asked McCrory to play the role of Sonya, but that she had other ideas.
“She told me that I should play Yelena, the other young female role, and then she spent the next hour telling me exactly why. He left the room with the paper. This had never happened to me before or since … Clearly she was already halfway to giving an excellent performance, I just had to step aside and let her complete the job. Which, of course, he did, brilliantly. “
Lewis recalled that actress Lauren Bacall had mistakenly praised her for playing Sonya, played by Emily Watson, after a production show in New York. When Bacall apologized for the mistake, McCrory said, “Okay Miss Hepburn, I’m glad you enjoyed the show.” Lewis added: “Lauren Bacall threw her head back and laughed and screamed. ‘You’re my kind of woman, let’s go out.’ And they went to the night ”.
Lewis said that in the weeks leading up to his death his wife had talked about his future relationships with women, saying “love is not possessive.”
“She told us from her bed, ‘I want Dad to have girlfriends, many, everyone must love again, love is not possessive, but you know Damian, try to at least get through the funeral without kissing someone. ‘,” he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism