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Damian Lewis says wife Helen McCrory urged him to ‘have lots of girlfriends’ after her death


Damian Lewis has penned a moving tribute to his wife Helen McCrory after she died of cancer (Picture: Getty)

Helen McCrory encouraged her husband Damian Lewis to find love again after her death, the actor has said.

The Peaky Blinders star, who had been married to Lewis for 14 years, died aged 52 after a private battle with cancer.

In a moving tribute written for The Times, the Billions actor said his late wife ‘encouraged’ him and their children Manon and Gulliver ‘to live fully, take opportunities, have adventures’.

Lewis continued: ‘Only a couple of weeks ago she said to us from her bed, “I want Daddy to have girlfriends, lots of them, you must all love again, love isn’t possessive, but you know, Damian, try at least to get though the funeral without snogging someone.”‘

He described her as ‘utterly heroic in her illness’ and spoke about her ‘bravery’ towards the end of her life.

Lewis wrote: ‘She has shone more brightly in the last months than you would imagine even the brightest star could shine. In life, too, we had to rise to meet her.

The couple had been married for 14 years and share two children (Picture: Getty)

‘But her greatest and most exquisite act of bravery and generosity has been to “normalise” her death. She’s shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy.

‘I’m staggered by her. She’s been a meteor in our life.’

Announcing McCrory’s death in a statement shared on Twitter, the Band of Brothers star said: ‘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.’

‘She was a meteor in our life’: Damian Lewis penned a tribute to his late wife in The Times (Picture: Wireimage)

Tributes came in from her former co-stars and friends in the industry, including actors Michael Sheen, Noel Clarke and Reece Shearsmith.

She had ‘sworn her friends to secrecy’ about her health battle and told ‘very, very few people’, according to her close friend Carrie Cracknell.

Some of McCrory’s best known roles included tough-talking matriarch Aunt Polly on Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series.

She had also starred in drama MotherFatherSon, Quiz, Penny Dreadful and the James Bond film Skyfall.

The actor married Lewis in 2007 and together they have daughter Manon, 14 and son Gulliver, 13.

The pair met while performing Five Gold Rings together at London’s Almeida Theatre.

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