Anna Friel

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Anna Friel
Anna Friel TCA 2015.jpg
Born Anna Louise Friel
(1976-07-12) 12 July 1976 (age 42)
Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 1986–present
Height 5 ft 5 in (165 cm)
Children 1

Anna Louise Friel (born 12 July 1976) is an English actress. Born in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England, she has been acting since the age of 13, appearing in a number of English television programmes. She played Beth Jordache in the Channel 4 soap Brookside, and portrayed the first lesbian kiss in a British soap opera in January 1994. She made her West End theatre debut in London in 2001 and has subsequently appeared in several productions, including in an adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's and as Yelena in a 2012 production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.

Friel made her film debut in 1998 in David Leland's Land Girls and has since made a number of films such as A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999), Timeline (2003), Land of the Lost (2009), and Limitless (2011). Outside of film, she played the role of Charlotte "Chuck" Charles in the ABC comedy series Pushing Daisies, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 2008.

She is the recipient of a number of awards, including National Television Award (1995), Drama Desk Award (1999), and the Royal Television Society Award (2009). She has also appeared in music videos and television and print media advertising campaigns and is the recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Bolton. In 2016, Friel starred in the ITV/Netflix crime drama, Marcella, as the titular role, for which she was awarded an International Emmy Awards for Best Actress. A second series premiered in March 2018.

Early life[edit]

Friel was born in Rochdale, in Greater Manchester. Her mother Julie (née Bamford) is a special needs teacher, and her father Desmond "Des" Friel was a French teacher who now owns a web design company.[3][4] Friel's father, who was born in Belfast and grew up in County Donegal, is Irish. He is a former folk guitarist.[5][6][7] Her brother Michael is a physician, who in his youth did television advertising work for Hovis.[8]

She attended Crompton House Church of England High School (in High Crompton), and later attended Holy Cross College (in Bury).[9] She began her training as an actress at Oldham Theatre Workshop.

Acting career[edit]


At age 13, she was hired for her first professional acting job in the Channel 4 drama serial G.B.H., as the daughter of Michael Palin's character. Her performance led to a series of appearances on various British television shows, including Emmerdale. In 1992, she was added to the cast on the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside, where she increased her exposure in the role of Beth Jordache. She stayed on the programme for two years. Friel's on-air lesbian kiss with Nicola Stephenson was the first in British soap history,[9][10] but not – as is often claimed – the first on British television, which occurred in an episode of the BBC2 drama series Second City Firsts in 1974.[11] In 1995, Friel won the National Television Award for Most Popular Actress for her work on Brookside.[12]

In 1996, Friel appeared in the television film The Tribe by Stephen Poliakoff, which included nudity and a much discussed ménage à trois sex scene between characters played by Friel, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Jeremy Northam.[13] In 1998 she appeared in the serialization of Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend.


In 2001, she made her West End stage début in London in a fringe production of Lulu, which also transferred to Broadway.[14]

Friel's film credits include playing Nick Leeson's wife Lisa in Rogue Trader opposite Ewan McGregor; David Leland's The Land Girls, which also starred Rachel Weisz and Catherine McCormack;[15][16] Adam Collis Sunset Strip as Tammy Franklin, opposite Jared Leto, Simon Baker and Nick Stahl; All for Love with Richard E. Grant; A Midsummer Night's Dream as Hermia, opposite Christian Bale, Dominic West and Calista Flockhart; Timeline as Gerard Butler's object of affection; Me Without You opposite Michelle Williams; and Goal! and Goal II: Living the Dream.

Her television work includes the short lived The Jury for the Fox and ITV1's Watermelon which was based on the novel by Marian Keyes. In 2007, she started playing Charlotte "Chuck" Charles in Pushing Daisies, a new television series from the creator of Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls, on the American network ABC.[17] Although popular with critics, in November 2008, creator Bryan Fuller stated that it had been cancelled due to poor ratings.[18] The show ran for two seasons. Following the series' cancellation, Friel was offered six pilots during the next pilot season but declined all six roles in favour of focusing on her film career.[19]

In November 2006, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bolton for contributions to the performing arts.[20]

Mulberry A/W 2001

Henry Bond's photograph depicts Anna with David Thewlis. The couple were reported to have been paid £50,000 to appear in the autumn/winter 2001 advertising campaign for British fashion company Mulberry.[21]

Friel co-starred in the critical and box office flop 2009 film Land of the Lost.[22]

In September 2009, Friel starred in a West End adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.[23] It was particularly noted for now including a nude scene which was not part of the original Breakfast at Tiffany's performance.[24]


In April 2010, she was cast in the psychological thriller film The Dark Fields[25] (now entitled Limitless and released in March 2011). In November 2010, Friel starred in London Boulevard alongside Ray Winstone, Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley and her then partner David Thewlis.[26]

Friel appears in the video for the Manic Street Preachers' September 2010 single "(It's Not War) Just the End of Love" opposite Welsh actor Michael Sheen, with whom she co-starred in the 2003 film Timeline.[27]

In January 2011, Friel appeared in an episode of the BBC series Come Fly with Me as a fictionalised version of herself.[28] In the show she is bald and has lost her wig.[29] In December of that year, she played the star role (Ellie Manning) in ITV's series drama Without You.[30] That same month, she starred as Captain Elizabeth Bonny in the SyFy network's production of Neverland, a prequel to J.M. Barrie's classic story Peter Pan.[31]

In March 2012, Friel began filming for The King of Soho, later renamed The Look of Love, a biographical movie about porn baron Paul Raymond, in which she plays Raymond's wife Jean alongside Steve Coogan as Raymond. She also starred in Public Enemies, a 3-part BBC television drama which aired in early 2012, opposite Daniel Mays.[32] The two previously worked together during her appearance on The Street. It also featured Barnaby Kay, an actor whom she worked with in Without You.

In 2013 Friel was cast in Showtime's new drama The Vatican opposite Kyle Chandler.[33] Anna Friel filmed Having You, a TV movie, opposite Andrew Buchan, in 2012, and it aired on Sky TV in early May 2013 for UK residents.[34] Having You has been released on DVD and VOD. Friel was cast in the lead role of Sergeant Odelle Ballard in NBC's American Odyssey for one season in 2015.

In 2016 Friel was cast in Steven Soderbergh’s sexually graphic American drama The Girlfriend Experience, in which she plays Erica Myles, a Republican fundraiser engaged in relationships with two women.[35]

Since 2016, Friel also currently portrays lead character Detective Sergeant Marcella Backland in the British crime drama Marcella (ITV/Netflix).

Personal life[edit]

In 2001, Friel began a relationship with actor David Thewlis, after the pair met on a flight to Cannes.[36] In the same year Friel collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, needing emergency surgery and two blood transfusions for a ruptured ovarian cyst.[37] It was later discovered that she suffers from endometriosis and would have great difficulty conceiving.[38] However, she became pregnant and gave birth to Gracie Ellen Mary Friel on 9 July 2005 at Portland Hospital in London.[39] Gracie was named after Gracie Fields, who was also from Rochdale, and her mother's grandmothers, Ellen and Mary. She has appeared along with her mother in the film Bathory.[40]

In 2008, Friel began supporting the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign in support of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.[41]

In December 2010, Friel and Thewlis separated after almost ten years together.[42]

In 2014 she campaigned on behalf of the WWF wildlife charity.[43]

Awards and nominations[edit]



Year Title Role Other notes
1998 The Stringer Helen
The Land Girls Prue (Prudence)
The Tribe Lizzie
St. Ives Flora Gilchrist
1999 A Midsummer Night's Dream Hermia
Rogue Trader Lisa Leeson
Mad Cows Maddy
2000 Sunset Strip Tammy Franklin
An Everlasting Piece Bronagh
2001 The War Bride Lily
Me Without You Marina
2003 Last Rumba in Rochdale Bodney Voice actor
Timeline Lady Claire
2005 Goal! Roz Harmison
2006 Irish Jam Maureen
Niagara Motel Denise
2007 Goal! 2: Living the Dream... Roz Harmison
Rubbish Isobel
2008 Bathory Countess Erzsébet Báthory
2009 Land of the Lost Holly Cantrell
2010 London Boulevard Briony
Angel Makers Lizzie
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Iris
2011 Limitless Melissa
2013 The Look of Love Jean Raymond
Having You Anna
2014 Good People Sarah
2015 Urban & the Shed Crew Greta
2016 The Cleanse Maggie
I.T. Rose Regan
2017 Tomato Red Bev Merridew


Year Title Role Other notes
1991 G.B.H. Susan Nelson Miniseries; 6 episodes
1992 Emmerdale Poppy Bruce TV series
1993 Medics Holly Jarrett Episode #3.3
1993–1995 Brookside Beth Jordache TV series
1995 The Imaginatively Titled Punt & Dennis Show Episode #2.1
1996 Tales from the Crypt Angelica Episode: "About Face"
Cadfael Sioned Episode: "A Morbid Taste for Bones"
1998 Our Mutual Friend Bella Wilfer 4 episodes
2001 The Fear Storyteller Episode: "Horror: A True Tale"
2002 Fields of Gold Lucia Merritt TV film
2003 Watermelon Claire Ryan TV film
2004 The Jury Megan Delaney Main cast
Perfect Strangers Susie Wilding TV film
2007–2009 Pushing Daisies Charlotte "Chuck" Charles Main cast; 22 episodes
2009 The Street Dee Purnell 2 episodes
2011 Neverland Elizabeth Bonny TV film
Treasure Guards Victoria Eckhart TV film
Come Fly with Me Herself Episode #1.5
Without You Ellie 3 episodes
2012 Public Enemies Paula Radnor 3 episodes
2013 The Vatican Kayla Duffy TV pilot
2014 The Psychopath Next Door Dr Eve Wright TV drama
2015 American Odyssey Sgt. Odelle Ballard Lead role; 13 episodes
The Heavy Water War Julie Smith 6 episodes (titled The Saboteurs in the UK)
2016–present Marcella Det Sgt Marcella Backland Lead role; 16 episodes
2017 Broken Christina Fitzsimmons 3 episodes
The Girlfriend Experience Erica Myles 7 episodes
2018 Butterfly Vicky Miniseries
2019 Deep Water Lisa Kallisto Miniseries


  1. ^ David Thewlis is the 'Anonymous' actor who's everywhere, Los Angeles Times, 12 January 2012.
  2. ^ Staff (31 January 2014). "Interview: Anna Friel on her love for Jennifer Lawrence, Cate". Evening Standard. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  3. ^ "Anna Friel". Anna Friel. 23 May 1995. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  4. ^ "Anna Friel Interview" Archived 10 January 2011 at Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times, 18 February 2001
  5. ^ "The Look Mirror Interview". Anna Friel. 5 June 1999. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Leith, William (9 August 1998). "Anna Friel: Lipstick thespian". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  7. ^ "The Official Anna Friel website". 11 December 1996. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  8. ^ Leith, William (9 August 1998). "Anna Friel: Lipstick thespian". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Roffey, Monique (2 October 1994). "When Anna and Beth kissed Margaret: Anna Friel plays Brookside's lesbian pin-up. Monique Roffey met her". The Independent. London. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Discover more about the stars of BBC Drama – Anna Friel". BBC. 
  11. ^ Blyth, Michael. "BFI Screenonline: Girl (1974)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Woods, Judith (6 December 2011). "Anna Friel: 'My daughter didn't ask to be from a broken home'". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  13. ^ "BuddyTV Bio". BuddyTV. Archived from the original on 28 October 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2007. 
  14. ^ Smith, Neil (23 March 2001). "Sex, violence and Anna Friel". BBC News. 
  15. ^ "Entertainment Stars back the Rogue Trader". BBC News Online. 22 June 1999. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  16. ^ Julia Llewellyn Smith (27 February 2010). "Land girls: disquiet on the home front". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "(Pushing Daisies)About This Show". The Futon Critic. Retrieved 7 May 2007. 
  18. ^ "Pushing Daisies Cancelled, Eli Stone + Dirty Sexy Money at Risk". Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  19. ^ Dos Santos, Kristin; Jennifer Godwin (26 February 2009). "Pushing Daisies: What's Anna Friel's Next Project?". E! Online – Watch with Kristin. Retrieved 3 July 2009. 
  20. ^ "University announces winter Honorary Doctorates". University of Bolton. 24 November 2006. 
  21. ^ "Friel The Heat". Vogue. 31 July 2001. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  22. ^ "Land of the Lost". CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  23. ^ "Entertainment | West End Breakfast for Anna Friel". BBC News. 15 May 2009. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  24. ^ "Anna Friel's 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' nude scene causing a stir". Irish News. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 30 September 2009. 
  25. ^ "The Beautiful Anna Friel Latest to Enter 'The Dark Fields'". Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  26. ^ "Anna Friel the Next to Run Through the Dark Fields". Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  27. ^ "Sheen's painful embrace". 3 September 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  28. ^ "BBC One – Come Fly With Me, Episode 5". BBC Online. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  29. ^ "hairless: Come Fly With Me". themakeupgallery. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  30. ^ Without You at ITV web site
  31. ^ Hunt, Jason (30 November 2011). "Anna Friel is NEVERLAND's Bonny Lass". Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  32. ^ mgleeson-258-209836. "Public Enemies (TV Mini-Series 2012)". IMDb. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  33. ^ Jensen, Jeff (1 March 2013). "Showtime casts Anna Friel in 'The Vatican' | Inside TV |". Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  34. ^ yeltzmanmatt (4 June 2013). "Having You (2013)". IMDb. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  35. ^ "Girlfriend Experience". 8 February 2018. 
  36. ^ Anna Friel, David Thewlis accidentally set house on fire [sic]
  37. ^ "Anna Friel was almost left infertile by a medical condition. – Free Online Library". 20 July 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  38. ^ "Anna Friel was almost left infertile by a medical condition". Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  39. ^ MacDonald, Marianne (26 September 2005). "Post-natal confession". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  40. ^ Jan Hejtmánek (10 July 2008). "Bathory: Countess of Blood (2008)". IMDb. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  41. ^ "Fashion Targets Breast Cancer". Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  42. ^ "Friel, Thewlis split after nine years". Digital Spy. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 
  43. ^ Tracy McVeigh. "Anna Friel 'shocked' by her success as oil firm pulls out of Congo park". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  44. ^ "International Emmy Awards: Kenneth Branagh, Anna Friel Among Winners – Complete List". Deadline. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 

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