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Carrie Cracknell: In memory of Helen McCrory

Helen McCrory as Hester Collyer smoking in The Deep Blue Sea National Theatre

Carrie Cracknell, who directed Helen McCrory in Medea and The Deep Blue Sea, said a few words in reflection about the late actress, who sadly passed away in April 2021. Helen had a long and rich association with the National Theatre.


“Helen was undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of her generation. Incandescent, playful, fierce and wildly intelligent. Her craft and precision as an actor was awe-inspiring.

On some afternoons, while Helen was rehearsing The Deep Blue Sea at the NT, the sun would pour through the windows, and it would feel for a moment that time had stopped. That the world had stopped revolving, as the entire cast and crew would stand, quietly enraptured by the humanity and aliveness and complexity of Helen’s work.

As we moved the production into the auditorium, I would marvel at how she held an audience of 900 people in the palm of her hand. She could change how we felt with the slightest glance, a flick of the wrist, a sultry pause, yet somehow she never lost the central truth of her character. I couldn’t be prouder that we have this beautiful recording of our production to share.

Helen was anarchic, naughty and always full of outrageous stories. She would turn up to work in her pyjamas and crocs one day, then stilettos the next, and yet she was deeply serious about the things that she cared about.

Her greatest pleasure was to slip away from rehearsals at the end of the day and get home to be with her beloved family. She was fierce, and kind, and properly brave, both in how she chose to live and how she faced up to her illness. A truly remarkable woman and a shattering loss.”


The Deep Blue Sea and Medea are streaming worldwide on National Theatre at Home in memory of Helen McCrory. Both titles are available with captions and as audio-described versions.