“Actually, I’m looking forward to being 50, because to me that’s when a woman is at the pinnacle of her femininity and her womanhood.” —Helen McCrory in an interview with The Independent
“He (Damian) took me to the Wallace Collection. He got the gentleman in charge to give us a tour, which was my idea of heaven. Then we went to a hotel that will remain nameless, then home.
When I came down to dinner, my whole family were there and a load of friends. Damian is very good at throwing surprise parties. And because I always dress up, I just happened to have on a 1920s backless blue velvet evening gown with a pair of old Fila trainers.”
So, Damian, we do not know if you are throwing another surprise party for 51, but here we are throwing a birthday party for your better half on the blog.
Happy Birthday, Helen!
It’s quite easy to figure out why Damian fell in love with Helen: Beauty, talent and brains, a rare combination, seem to have come together and stolen our guy’s heart. The couple has been together for more than a decade, married for eleven years and going as strong as ever. We wished them a Happy Anniversary more than a month ago here.
Damian is so proud of Helen that it makes him say “I fully expect to be the butler to her Dame one day” to Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs 🙂 And I do not know about dame, but I cannot wait for this brilliant lady to return to TV as the kick-ass Polly in Peaky Blinders Season 5! Ah I so envy the fans in the UK who will get their fix of the Shelby family on August 25.
But of course Peaky Blinders is not the only project Helen has worked on this year. She has recently visited our living rooms in MotherFatherSon, an eight-hour mini-series for BBC Two, that brings together two matchless actors, Richard Gere as the media mogul Max Finch, and Helen McCrory as Kathryn Villiers, his estranged wife.
And I cannot tell you how much I love the story Helen shares about getting the part in the mini-series:
“My agent Nick Forgacs called me up to say there was a fantastic project floating about, but the only names that were reading it were big film stars.
He couldn’t tell me anything about it, nor were they sending it to me, but Nick’s excitement was palpable: ‘If I can get you into the room I think you’ve got a chance… but I’ve got to get you into the room first’.
So we gate-crashed the auditions basically. I was being offered various things during this process – I even declined a lead role in another series purely on the chance of getting this, because Tom Rob Smith’s writing is brilliant and it is one of the most original scripts I’ve ever read.”
Helen has also accepted a role in a TV adaptation of Quiz, a play by James Graham, for ITV. The play is about the former army major Charles Ingram who was accused of cheating on Who Wants To be a Millionaire? in 2001. And Helen will bring to life Sonia Woodley, the defense attorney in the case. It turns out Helen has already got in touch with her criminal lawyer friends to arrange a trip to the to the court and watch them at work.
And next to being a successful actress, a wife, and a mom to two pre-teenagers which is probably not the easiest thing in the world, Helen always finds time for charity. She is the very dedicated patron of Sir Hubert Von Herkomer Arts Foundation that works hard for disadvantaged inner city kids to have access to creative industries through courses in photography, documentary film-making, art and fashion. Look at our favorite couple working the phones to raise funds for the Foundation on BGC Charity Day last September!
Talking about Helen’s better half… Looking at any picture of the two of them together or seeing them on stage/screen together, their poetry reading at Cheltenham Literature Festival is a wonderful example of that, only seems to highlight how good a match they are. In one fabulous interview with the two of them several years ago, Damian asks jokingly, in response to something Helen says, ‘did that mean she wanted him to do the dishes for the week?’ and Helen respondS ‘No, he could do bedtime’. Smart lady. As anyone with children will know that, depending on the day you have had, doing bedtime is potentially more exhaustive and troublesome than doing the dishes…
Knowing Damian loves Helen and she loves him back make us LOVE Helen in the first place! And getting to know her a bit over the years through interviews and JaniaJania and me having the privilege to meet her two years ago make us feel she’s the kind of woman whose company we would really enjoy; in fact, in another life, we could have been friends.
So… Here’s our TOP DOZEN reasons to LOVE Helen! Feel free to add to our list or make your own list, too!
1. She’s not an island, but involved in the world around her. And, hey, she’s opinionated, too!
“I really, really want every single f—ing self-service till to be ripped out of the shops and people put back in. I want people to be fined for canceling NHS appointments. I want the children I meet to be less interested in staring at a computer screen and more interested in talking to me.”
Once you read about Helen’s thoughts about modern society, how many of you nodded your head in agreement with her and then absentmindedly picked up your phone/tablet/laptop/assorted various other technological gadgets because it is now simply second nature? Good on her for trying to ensure her children aren’t permanently glued to a computer screen/other gadget. It is not an easy rule to enforce given how rapidly technology is developing and a child’s need to be doing what their friends are doing.
2. She prefers funny over beautiful:
“I’d rather be considered funny by a man than beautiful. And humour has always ranked highly for me, too, when it comes to men. It was definitely Damian’s humour that I fell in love with first. Give me someone who can make me laugh and I’m prepared to go to the end of the world with him.”
“Actually, I’m looking forward to being 50, because to me that’s when a woman is at the pinnacle of her femininity and her womanhood.”
“As I’ve got older, I feel more confident in my body, so wouldn’t want to tamper with it. Recently I was looking at myself in a scene of a film and thought: ‘My God — I’m the only one without Botox in that shot!’ You need to be able to face getting older.”
4. She’s honest about her marriage:
“It’s a very happy marriage. But not, of course, a fairy tale. We don’t skip around the house in gingham, with bluebirds in the kitchen. We can argue and don’t necessarily like each other all the time, but I have never felt anxious with Damian or thought for a single second that I wanted to be somewhere else.”
What is their secret recipe? She reveals it in a recent interview:
“Being kind to one another is the key thing to making it last. I’m kind to a fault, and it’s the recipe for our success.”
5. She’s a down-to-earth mother.
“We worry terribly that they are growing up in a society that is about instant gratification. If something’s wrong – their appearance in a photograph, say – a child can now edit it to their liking or just press delete. But life’s not like that, is it? I don’t want my children growing up wanting to be perfect beings in a perfect world. I keep saying to them, ‘Darling, there are times you will be sad and unhappy and you mustn’t worry about it. Melancholia’s very interesting you know… you should read a bit of poetry.’”
Helen shares with Daily Mail, among other precious family keepsakes, Gully’s first drawing of the family. Can it get sweeter than this?
6. She’s a feminist.
“…Financial independence means the marriage contract has changed. Women don’t have to look for someone to pay the rent when they’re looking for a lover… The benefits of feminism for someone like my husband are fantastic. He can stay at home with the kids, he can take them to a park, he does the school run. He gets to know his kids because that’s expected of men now. No longer do fathers sit in the study and say: ‘Bring the children up with my gin and tonic and I’ll kiss them on the forehead.’ As much as he may ask, he’s not getting it.”
Oh, no, HE’S NOT GETTING IT 😀 We love it Damian is married to a true feminist 🙂
Helen did not only make Damian (he told me once he’s a feminist, too, and I believe him!) but all of us proud in 2018 when she read a speech by Millicent Fawcett, a feminist icon primarily known for her relentless work for women’s suffrage, as the statue of Fawcett was unveiled in Parliament Square in London.
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) April 24, 2018
You can see an excerpt from the speech here.
7. She has her priorities set even on the day she and Damian attend a state dinner hosted by President Obama at the White House!
“The actors were told by protocol officials to turn up at 7pm prompt and that make-up and hair could be arranged for them a few hours before.
‘We turned that down,’ says McCrory.
‘I’d never been to Washington before and wanted to hit the sights and see a couple of museums.
‘So we rushed back to the hotel five minutes before, jumped in the shower, got changed and ran down to the White House.”
Hey, you two, are you wizards or what, all of this in five minutes? Is it Narcissa and her wand?
8. She knows how to have a GOOD time!
Look at this sweet little video clip from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II premiere after-party. Pay attention and you will see Helen and Damian dancing in the very front. Hey, you two, hope the dance of your love lasts for the longest time!
It goes without saying it is a true pleasure to witness our favorite couple having a good time together. Here is Damian and Helen together at Roksanda fashion show, Serpentine Gallery summer party, and oh yeah, at a Fleetwood Mac concert, too, earlier this year! 😀
9. She’s Aunt Polly for God’s Sake… and, in fact, much more than that…
Well, we binge-watched the first two seasons in a week or so, and Helen’s Aunt Polly left us in awe craving for more! The writing, the acting, the cinematography and THE MUSIC just rock!!! I am now all caught up with the show and cannot have enough of Polly!
In case you haven’t seen Peaky Blinders yet: It’s about Shelby family, a family of gangsters operating in post WWI Birmingham. Aunt Polly is the BRAINS of the family along with Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and she ran the “business” when the young guys were away at war. Polly has her own baggage, too; and she is a woman that you would not want to mess with… ever… well, exactly like the woman who plays her! 🙂 And if you wanna find out about what happen to people that messed with her, Peaky Blinders is available on Amazon as well as on iTunes! And, I cannot wait for Season 5!
At the same time Damian was telling us his children thought he had won “an Emma” while he was putting in a star performance as Nicholas Brody, he was also telling us how Helen is the cool one in the family. Quite simply because Helen had been in Harry Potter and Doctor Who and daddy just can’t compete with that. In Harry Potter, Helen played Narcissa Malfoy who in the end betrays Voldemort to ensure her son’s survival. Mummy is cool as cucumber indeed!
In Doctor Who she plays Rosanna Calvierri who with her family is fleeing from the silence. Mummy dearest plans to turn Venice into food for her sons. We hope Gulliver is hungry! And, we have enjoyed and got excited over James Bond rumors, but hey Helen was already in Skyfall!
Oh, and have you seen Helen in Loving Vincent yet? It is a stunning movie! Here is the movie trailer so you can see what we are talking about if you have not seen it yet!
10. Because she taught us a real good trick 😀
JaniaJania and I had the privilege of meeting Helen back in April 2017. I am happy to report I was able to tell her how much I loved her as Aunt Polly but also how much we loved the fact that Damian is married to a feminist! And I added: Because no man should have it easy in this life. Am I right or am I right? 😀 Helen is lovely. So down to earth and funny, too! She grabbed the camera from JaniaJania’s hand and said she knew a trick that would make all three of us look seven in a selfie! We’re sold 😀
11. She is one smart cookie.
It has been a revelation to find out in Damian’s New Yorker profile that the decision to do Keane, the movie he is probably most proud of having made in his brilliant body of work, was a Helen moment:
“That was a Helen moment because she’d read it, and she said, ‘Whatever happens, you have to do this’.”
No wonder Damian calls Helen his “ferociously intelligent co-counsel.”
12. Finally, and probably more important than anything, Helen says THIS when asked about her most treasured possession and steals our hearts forever <3
“If the house burned down, there isn’t anything I would run in to fetch. I suppose I should say my wedding ring, but the truth is that I asked my husband to get me a wedding ring that was totally replaceable. It’s just titanium, light and unmarked. It’s the symbol of the ring that matters. I have never found ‘things’ important or interesting. My most treasured possession is my brain.”
Thank you, Helen, for being you! Happy Birthday – make it count!