WCW: Helen McCrory


When word hit that actress Helen McCrory had passed away on April 16, 2021, it came as a shock to everyone here at Frock Flicks. McCrory had kept her cancer diagnosis and treatment a private matter, known only to her close friends and family. Way back in 2015, when this blog was still in its infancy, we honored her contribution to historical film and TV with a “Badass Babe” feature (which later became the regular Wednesday highlight reel, “Woman Crush Wednesday”), highlighting some of her more notable historical roles. In the intervening six years since, her list of frock flick roles increased, and we were due to revisit her with an updated list. It is with great regret that we only got around to honoring her impressive repertoire in the wake of her passing. From queens to courtesans, villainesses to vixens, Helen McCrory will be remembered as one of the most versatile and interesting actresses of her age.


Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Yup, that’s her, Whore #2.


Witness Against Hitler (1996)

Based on the story of Helmuth Von Moltke, a German aristocrat who attempted to overthrow Hitler.


Anna Karenina (1999)

anna karenina 2000

Kendra thought Helen McCrory was a stronger actress for the role than the much-beloved Sophie Marceau.


In a Land of Plenty (2001)

A classic British family saga, spanning fifty years from the 1940s to the 1990s. Helen McCrory plays the matriarch of the Freeman family.


Charlotte Gray (2001)

Based on the novel set in Vichy France during WWII.


The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

I actually really liked this adaptation of the classic Victor Hugo novel, and we should really give it a more in depth look.


Dead Gorgeous (2002)

Two old friends meet up after World War II and devise a plot to murder their respective husbands.


Lucky Jim (2003)

Helen McCrory plays the rival for the eponymous Jim’s affections in this adaptation of the 1957 novel by Kingsley Amis.


The Last King (2003)

The Last King: The Power and the Passion of Charles II (2003)

Check out our reviews of this fantastic miniseries about the life and loves of Charles I. Helen McCrory plays chief mistress and pain in Charles’ royal ass, Barbara Villiers.


Does God Play Football (2004)

Seems like a weird concept for a film, but it got decent reviews. And it reunites Helen McCrory and Kevin McKidd (who played Vronsky in the aforementioned Anna Karenina adaptation, opposite McCrory).


Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004)

Every time this show comes up in one of our reviews, I make a mental note to myself that I need to sit down and watch it once and for all. Rupert Everett as Holmes … what’s not to love?


Casanova (2005)

The film romp to end all film romps. I’m a bigger fan of the much weirder adaptation starring David Tennant that came out around the same time, but I still enjoyed this film.


The Queen (2006)

I know, it’s post-1969, but I really don’t care. I loved Helen McCrory and Michael Sheen’s awkwardness as late-1990s Tony and Cherie Blair.


Becoming Jane (2007)

2007 Becoming Jane

The costumes in this movie are lovely, especially the one seen in this single scene where McCrory plays the woman author Mrs. Radcliffe, whom Jane Austen seeks out for advice on her career choice.


Doctor Who: The Vampires of Venice (2010)

I think this is supposed to be set in the 16th century, but who knows? All I know is that Trystan would 100% wear everything in this image.


Hugo (2011)

This movie looks really interesting. It’s about an orphan in 1930s Paris. Helen McCrory plays Jeanne d’Alcy, an aging French film actress.


We’ll Take Manhattan (2012)

McCrory plays British fashion editor Lady Clare Rendlesham in this film about 1960s supermodel Jean Shrimpton and her affair with photographer David Bailey.


Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This (2014)

The story of comedian Tommy Cooper and his dual relationships with his assistant and his wife. McCrory plays his assistant, Mary Kay.


A Little Chaos (2014)

2014 A Little Chaos

Man, the cast for this film was insanely good, but the costuming was all over the map! Listen to our podcast for more about it.


The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2014)

A sequel I had never heard of to a horror film I had never heard of, but the costumes look really good which is tempting me to overlook the fact that it’s a horror film … Costumes by Annie Symons who has several frock flicks under her belt, including The Crimson Petal and the White (2011).


Bill (2015)

We reviewed this as a two-fer, along with Upstart Crow. Helen McCrory plays Queen Elizabeth I.


Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

With costumes by Joanna Eatwell, what’s not to love about this gothy, witchy, dark look at everyone’s favorite horror genre characters of Victorian England?


Their Finest (2016)

I’ll watch anything with Bill Nighy in it, so it’s pretty amazing that I haven’t watched this film, based on propaganda writers working for the British Ministry of Information in WWII.


Peaky Blinders (2013-2019)

I had quite a bit to say during the last Snark Week about how much I want to like this show, but the violence and shitty male characters keep me struggling to stay with it. Helen McCrory portrayed Aunt Polly, the doyenne of the Shelby crime family in interwar period Birmingham.


We’re going to miss Helen McCrory.

16 Responses

  1. LadySlippers

    I was in utter shock and dismay seeing Helen had died (and from cancer!). It compounded my feelings with Prince Philip’s passing. Been a tough stretch of the month/year for deaths (although very grateful of the conviction yesterday late afternoon and the revoked bail).

    I had recently gone on a Helen binge and the diversity of her roles is a thing of wonder. I had really liked her before my binge, but I was swooning after. Thank you for giving me a few more things to resume my binge.

    May Helen’s memory forever be a blessing.

  2. susan l eiffert

    She’s been a favorite of mine for a long time and I was shocked and sad, too, to hear she’d died. Thanks for these, Guys. There’s a poignant clip online of an interview last month with her and Lewis on a British tv show. She’s a little disheveled and her voice is husky – probably from treatments. The interviewer asks if she’s ok, and she blames her voice on yelling at her kids, bless her.

  3. cljhansen

    I love Frock Flicks and today’s post was wonderful. So many wonderful movies that Helen McCrory appeared in. One small correction, “The Count of Monte Cristo” was written by Alexandre Dumas and not Victor Hugo. Just a minor point but I thought you would want to know. Thank you again for the blog, research, pics and of course, the snark!

  4. SarahV

    She fucking DEVOURED on Penny Dreadful (and gets to hook up with the silver-foxy Timothy Dalton, too),

    That Dead Gorgeous looks fun, I shall have to seek that out.

  5. Susan Pola Staples

    What is not to love about the wonderful Helen McCrory? Immense talent, debth of role perception, a Goddess of Badassness, besides being a beautiful person. Her Anna Karenina ties with Sophie’s and in some way is a tad better. The only reason I watched Peaky was her Polly.
    She is missed.

    • Elise

      And just imagine that she was originally supposed to be Bellatrix in Harry Potter! She would have been so incredible. (She was Narcissa in lovely 1940s-type clothes, but it wasn’t enough) I wonder if she would have also taken JK Rowling to task over her TERF-ness. McCrory was always such a badass.

  6. Caradoc

    She was mysterious, talented & unique, she’ll be deeply missed. I loved her as Polly in Peaky Blinders, of course, and she was brilliant as Evelyn Poole in Penny Dreadful (She shines at the 2nd season, which is, in my opinion, the best one). Does anyone know where I could watch the Charles II miniseries? I’m dying to see Helen as Barbara Villiers!

    • Maggie May

      Justwatch finds another The Last King.

      But this production shows up as Charles II: The Power and the Passion. On Britbox in the USA. (Rufus Sewell as the King.)

      Now, back to Just watch……

  7. Cláudio Alves

    I’ll miss Helen McCrory. What a fabulous screen presence, she was.

    A small correction: The costumes of PENNY DREADFUL were designed by Gabriella Pescucci, not Joanna Eatwell.

  8. Jose

    Boy i knew today and was shocked my sister was the one who discovered it she watched Peaky Blinders and told me Polly has died then i saw i picture of her and knew her right away God i was shocked and sad she was a magnificent actress and had great screen presence I have to agree with Kendra and say she was better as Anna Karenina than Sophie Marceu she had the difficult task to make me watch a rather plain and simple adaptation of Tolstoy pain in the heart novel and suceeded Now that’s really hard i loved her in harry potter and sherlock and last king as well now i might give Peaky blinders with my sisters too
    PS: When i thought of Her the first thing that came to my mind was her Anna then I Remembered that Nicola Pagett died last month Two Anna’s in a Row should we advise the others to take extra good care?

    • jose

      oh and Hugo and A Little Chaos was great too her character was real person in Hugo the wife of george melies one of history’s first filmmakers even if she was much younger than her character, jeanne was supposed to be in her 60’s or 70’s, she was 40’s

  9. Lily Lotus Rose

    I have to chime in with everyone else that I was shocked and saddened. She was so talented and she will definitely be missed. I never saw her give a bad performance. Like others have said, she really shone in Penny Dreadful. And if you haven’t seen Hugo yet, then you should definitely give it a chance. It’s a marvelous, unexpected gem.

    • Ms. Heather Ripley

      I agree with @Lily, you must see AND review Hugo. Helen will be truly missed, she was a talented actor and I loved a lot of her performances. I am so glad she gave them to us to treasure forever.

  10. misat0

    such a sad loss! one of those actresses who always impressed!
    Hugo is quite nice, it’s back narrative is about Georges Méliès.
    The Count of Monte Cristo is by Alexandre Dumas, not Victor Hugo.