Helen McCrory once mistook Bruno Tonioli for ‘an exuberant Italian prince’

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Helen McCrory had a fun encounter with Bruno Tolioni at the Baftas (Getty)
Helen McCrory had a fun encounter with Bruno Tolioni at the Baftas (Getty)

Actor and playwright Stephen Beresford has shared an anecdote that exemplifies the late Helen McCrory’s decidedly unbothered attitude to fame.

In a tribute published in The Sunday Times, Beresford remembered many touching moments in his friendship with the Peaky Blinders star, who died this month from cancer, aged 52.

McCrory and Beresford met when she was cast in his first play, The Last of the Haussmans, in 2012.

“Her attitude to fame – hers and other people’s – was admirably prosaic,” he wrote.

“She considered it a necessary but uninteresting side-effect, like bunions for a floorwalker. And since she was always too busy, too active, to watch TV herself, it often surprised her.”

Beresford went on to recall McCrory’s “look of confusion” when the man he had introduced her to at the Baftas was called over to the crowd outside to sign autographs.

“Is he famous? I’ve been sitting next to him all night,” she asked.

“It’s Bruno Tonioli, Helen. From Strictly,” Beresford responded, referring to the Strictly Come Dancing judge.

Asked who she thought it had been, McCrory apparently shrugged and replied: “I thought he was an exuberant Italian prince.”

McCrory’s death was announced to the public by her husband and fellow actor, Damian Lewis.

In a statement, Lewis said McCrory was “beautiful and mighty” and that she “died as she lived. Fearlessly.”

“God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you,” he wrote.

McCrory was arguably best known for her starring role as “Aunt Pol”, Polly Gray, in the BBC’s hit series Peaky Blinders.

She also starred as Narcissa Malfoy in the film adaptations of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, along with many other roles onscreen and onstage.

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