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Helen McCrory: How Harry Potter actor was cast as Bellatrix Lestrange but ended up playing Narcissa Malfoy

The Independent logo The Independent 16/04/2021 Clémence Michallon
Helen McCrory in a dark room © Provided by The Independent

Harry Potter fans will remember Helen McCrory – who died from cancer aged 52, her husband Damian Lewis announced on Friday – as the villainous Narcissa Malfoy, but the actor was originally supposed to play a different role in the franchise.

Her first appearance in the Harry Potter film series as Narcissa Malfoy came in the 2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. McCrory reprised the role in the two Deathly Hallows instalments, released respectively in 2010 and 2011.

Before she was tapped to portray Draco Malfoy’s mother, McCrory was cast as Bellatrix Lestrange (Narcissa’s sister and Sirius Black’s cousin) for the 2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but had to drop out after she got pregnant.

The part of Bellatrix went to Helena Bonhman Carter, who told Entertainment Weekly in 2010: “They came to me [after McCrory had to leave the project] and I loved it. I love magic, I love witches, I love the whole [Harry Potter] world. I was all too happy to play a witch.”

The news of McCrory’s death has prompted tributes across the industry.

Among many other roles, she had recently portrayed Polly Grayin Peaky Blinders, in addition to starring in films such as Interview with a Vampire (1994) and The Queen (2006).

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