Helen McCrory’s friends learned of her brave cancer battle just days before tragic death

Helen McCrory‘s brave cancer battle was kept secret from her friends until just days before her tragic death, it has emerged.

Actor Damian Lewis announced on April 16 that his wife had passed away aged 52 following a ‘heroic’ battle with cancer, leaving behind her two teenage children.  

Friends of the couple have now revealed they only learned of Helen’s condition shortly before the tragic news was shared.           

Actor David Harewood, who starred with Lewis in Homeland, revealed his co-star texted him about the diagnosis ‘a couple of days’ ahead of the announcement.  

In an interview with The Mirror, Harewood, 55, said: ‘None of us knew what she was battling’ before paying tribute to the late Peaky Blinders actress. 

Gone too soon: Helen McCrory's brave cancer battle was kept secret from her friends until just days before her tragic death, it has been reported

Gone too soon: Helen McCrory's brave cancer battle was kept secret from her friends until just days before her tragic death, it has been reported

Gone too soon: Helen McCrory’s brave cancer battle was kept secret from her friends until just days before her tragic death, it has been reported

He told the publication: ‘Damian got in touch a couple of days before the news broke, he let us all know. It was all very, very upsetting.

‘Nobody knew. None of us knew what she was battling.’

He continued of her passing: ‘It was shocking and unbelievably sad. Damian did such a tremendous job in publicly handling all that.’

The TV star described Helen as ‘an incredible, wonderful woman’ before adding: ‘My heart goes out to him and to their two young children.’

So sad: Actor David Harewood, who starred with Helen's widow Damian Lewis in Homeland, revealed his co-star texted him about Helen's condition 'a couple of days' before it was announced that she had sadly passed away on April 16, aged just 52

So sad: Actor David Harewood, who starred with Helen's widow Damian Lewis in Homeland, revealed his co-star texted him about Helen's condition 'a couple of days' before it was announced that she had sadly passed away on April 16, aged just 52

So sad: Actor David Harewood, who starred with Helen’s widow Damian Lewis in Homeland, revealed his co-star texted him about Helen’s condition ‘a couple of days’ before it was announced that she had sadly passed away on April 16, aged just 52

MailOnline have contacted a representative for Damian for further comment. 

Helen’s death was confirmed earlier this month by her husband. 

The ‘beautiful and mighty’ actress died ‘peacefully’ at home surrounded by friends and family.

Shocked: In an interview with The Mirror , David, 55, said: 'None of us knew what she was battling' before paying tribute to the late Peaky Blinders actress

Shocked: In an interview with The Mirror , David, 55, said: 'None of us knew what she was battling' before paying tribute to the late Peaky Blinders actress

Shocked: In an interview with The Mirror , David, 55, said: ‘None of us knew what she was battling’ before paying tribute to the late Peaky Blinders actress

The Homeland star Lewis tweeted: ‘I’m heartbroken to announce that after a 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.

‘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.’

Helen, who was awarded the OBE for services to drama in the 2017 New Years Honours, was best known for playing the matriarch Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.

Heartbreaking: 'Damian got in touch a couple of days before the news broke, he let us all know. It was all very, very upsetting' (Helen pictured in 2014)

Heartbreaking: 'Damian got in touch a couple of days before the news broke, he let us all know. It was all very, very upsetting' (Helen pictured in 2014)

Heartbreaking: ‘Damian got in touch a couple of days before the news broke, he let us all know. It was all very, very upsetting’ (Helen pictured in 2014)

Her other movie roles included playing MP Clair Dowar in Skyfall and Cherie Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship.

On television, she appeared in Doctor Who, Inside No 9 and His Dark Materials, and last year appeared in the Hugh Laurie drama Roadkill on the BBC and ITV’s Quiz. 

Tragic: McCrory was best known for playing the matriarch Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films (pictured 2019)

Tragic: McCrory was best known for playing the matriarch Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films (pictured 2019)

Tragic: McCrory was best known for playing the matriarch Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films (pictured 2019)

She also had an accomplished stage career, winning plaudits for National Theatre roles in productions of Medea and Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea.

McCrory was also was nominated for an Olivier for her role as Rosalind in As You Like It in at London’s Wyndham’s theatre in 2006.

Her husband led tributes to the star tonight along with JK Rowling, Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton, Cillian Murphy and Kate Beckinsale.

Heartbroken: The Peaky Blinders star passed away after a 'heroic' battle with cancer, her husband Damian announced on Friday night

Heartbroken: The Peaky Blinders star passed away after a 'heroic' battle with cancer, her husband Damian announced on Friday night

Heartbroken: The Peaky Blinders star passed away after a ‘heroic’ battle with cancer, her husband Damian announced on Friday night 

The actress and Lewis married in 2007 after falling in love when they were both cast in the play Five Gold Rings at the off-West End Almeida Theatre back in 2003. Together they share a daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13.

The couple were last seen during an appearance on Good Morning Britain last month, where they appeared to speak about their charity work for the Prince’s Trust and the Prince’s Trust Awards.

McCrory and Lewis led fundraising efforts to provide hot meals for NHS staff during the pandemic. Their work led to almost £1million in donations to the Feed NHS scheme, and partnerships with chains including Leon and Wasabi.

Family: Helen and Damian married in 2007, the actress shared daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13, with the actor (the couple pictured in February last year)

Family: Helen and Damian married in 2007, the actress shared daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13, with the actor (the couple pictured in February last year)

Family: Helen and Damian married in 2007, the actress shared daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13, with the actor (the couple pictured in February last year)

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