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inspirational Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy opens up on filming without late Helen McCrory

The 52-year-old actress who played Polly Gray in the hit BBC show died in April 2021 after a secret battle with breast cancer

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Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory (Joe Giddens/PA)

Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory (Joe Giddens/PA)

Cillian Murphy and Helen McCrory (Joe Giddens/PA)

Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy has opened up about the show without his late co-star Helen McCrory.

The 52-year-old actress who played Polly Gray in the hit BBC show died in April 2021 after a secret diagnosis of breast cancer.

Helen kept her diagnosis private, with the news of her illness only coming to light when her husband Damian Lewis announced her death on Twitter.

Speaking to Esquire UK, Cillian said she was the beating heart of the show.

"We were just reeling throughout the whole thing. She was a dear, dear pal and she was the beating heart of that show, so it felt very strange being on set without her.”

Filming for the show was put on hold in March 2020 due to Covid-19, meaning McCrory’s character was originally part of the sixth season, but she was written out following her death.

"The difficult thing to comprehend is that, if it wasn’t for Covid, there would be a whole other version of this show with Helen in it,” Murphy explained.

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Helen McCrory starred as Shelby family matriarch Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders (Jacob King/PA)

Helen McCrory starred as Shelby family matriarch Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders (Jacob King/PA)

Helen McCrory starred as Shelby family matriarch Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders (Jacob King/PA)

"But she was so private and so f**king brave and courageous. She was inspirational. People throw that word around, but she genuinely was,” he said.

"Her values, the way she dealt with her kids and Damian. She cares about everybody. She’s really funny and really cool, and she had this real warmth. She really cared.”

"It’s just… I still can’t believe she’s not here. It doesn’t make sense. I’ve never lost anyone like that – who was young and a friend. It was very confusing.

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"But she was magnificent. She was an absolutely magnificent person."

Murphy starred alongside McCrory, who played his aunt, in the show since 2013.

The sixth and final season of the show, set in 1920s England, is set to air later this year.

Helen McCrory was also known for her role of Narcissa Malfoy in three Harry Potter films, Cherie Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship, and Clair Dowar in the James Bond film Skyfall.

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