Cillian Murphy, the man behind the legendary role of Thomas Shelby from Netflix’s Peaky Blinders has recently penned a heartfelt tribute for his late co-star Helen McCrory whose tragic demise earlier this year left them all shocked.
McCrory who starred as Polly Gray in Steven Knight’s hit series succumbed to cancer after an arduous secret battle with the disease.
Her co-stars and other eminent personalities from the entertainment industry showered her with tributes. Among them, a particularly heartfelt one was shared by Murphy who was admittedly “broken-hearted to lose such a dear friend”.
As a part of The Observer’s 2021 obituaries, Cillian Murphy has shared a longer and more in-depth tribute to the late star. He recalled their first meeting during a play audition in London at Donmar Warehouse.
Murphy, who was just “starting out”, was admittedly “really nervous”. He spoke of how McCrory “picked up on that” and helped him relax. “We went outside at one point to smoke a rollie and she was really kind and supportive.”
Murphy said that Helen, who was his “closest pal on set” had a “genuine compassion” ingrained in her that was a “part of her DNA”. Talking about the kind of person she was behind the cameras, he said, “she wasn’t an actor who turned up, did the gig and went home.”
“All the way through Peaky Blinders, she would chat to members of the crew as well as the actors. She knew everyone’s name,” he added.
Murphy also spoke of the kind of “complex” relationship their respective characters shared on the show. He said, “She was his aunt, but sometimes his mother and sometimes his sister. At times, they were almost a husband and wife team.”
Murphy showered McCrory’s acting prowess with umpteen praises, talking about how “she was operating on a different level” and “elevated every scene we were given on the page”.
He also spoke of her secret battle with the illness. He said that she was “incredibly private about her illness”, keeping many people in the dark about it as she absolutely hated asking for “sympathy”.
Murphy was impressed by how maturely she handled the whole predicament. “I spoke to her close to the end and she was still making jokes. The way she handled it was just so absolutely brave and dignified,” he said.
Murphy’s tribute concluded on a poignant note where he emphasised her main qualities as an actress. “As an actor, Helen was all about truth, dedication, commitment, ambition, empathy.”
He added, “When I think of her best performances, it’s her power and her presence that come to mind most of all. As a person, you just run out of superlatives. I guess for me her kindness is what I miss the most. I think about her a lot. I still can’t believe she’s not here.”
Murphy will next be seen in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer as the titular J. Robert Oppenheimer. The film is slated for a July 21st, 2023 release.
Peaky Blinders is also slated to release its final season in early 2022. The series will see Murphy making a return alongside Paul Anderson, Finn Cole, Sophie Rundle and Aimee-Ffion Edwards among others.