Born: July 12, 1976
Birthplace: Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England
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 British 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 April 2016 Anna starred in British Crime Drama Marcella playing a lead role. The show aired on ITV with 8 episodes and was renewed for a second series that aired in early 2018.
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. Friel's father, who was born in Belfast and grew up in County Donegal, is Irish . He is a former folk guitarist. Her brother Michael is a physician, who in his youth did television advertising work for Hovis.
She attended Crompton House Church of England High School (in High Crompton), and later attended Holy Cross College (in Bury). She began her training as an actress at Oldham Theatre Workshop.
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, 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. In 1995, Friel won the National Television Award for Most Popular Actress for her work on Brookside.
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. 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.
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; 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. Although popular with critics, in November 2008, creator Bryan Fuller stated that it had been cancelled due to poor ratings. 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.
In November 2006, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bolton for contributions to the performing arts.
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.
Friel co-starred in the critical and box office flop 2009 film Land of the Lost.
In September 2009, Friel starred in a West End adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. It was particularly noted for now including a nude scene which was not part of the original Breakfast at Tiffany's performance.
In April 2010, she was cast in the psychological thriller film The Dark Fields (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.
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.
In January 2011, Friel appeared in an episode of the BBC series Come Fly with Me as a fictionalised version of herself. In the show she is bald and has lost her wig. In December of that year, she played the star role (Ellie Manning) in ITV's series drama Without You. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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 currently plays Erica Myles, a Republican fundraiser engaged in multiple sub-dom relationships with other women.
Since 2016, Friel also currently portrays lead character Detective Sergeant Marcella Backland in the British crime drama Marcella (ITV/Netflix).
In 2001, Friel began a relationship with actor David Thewlis, after the pair met on a flight to Cannes. In the same year Friel collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, needing emergency surgery and two blood transfusions for a ruptured ovarian cyst. It was later discovered that she suffers from endometriosis and would have great difficulty conceiving. However, she became pregnant and gave birth to Gracie Ellen Mary Friel on 9 July 2005 at Portland Hospital in London. 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.
In 2008, Friel began supporting the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign in support of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
In December 2010, Friel and Thewlis separated after almost ten years together.
In 2014 she campaigned on behalf of the WWF wildlife charity.
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|The Land Girls||Prue (Prudence)|
|St. Ives||Flora Gilchrist|
|1999||A Midsummer Night's Dream||Hermia|
|Rogue Trader||Lisa Leeson|
|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|
|2007||Goal! 2: Living the Dream...||Roz Harmison|
|2008||Bathory||Countess Erzsébet Báthory|
|2009||Land of the Lost||Holly Cantrell|
|You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger||Iris|
|2013||The Look of Love||Jean Raymond|
|2015||Urban & the Shed Crew||Greta|
|2016||The Master Cleanse||Maggie|
|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|
|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; 8 episodes|
|2017||Broken||Christina Fitzsimmons||3 episodes|
|The Girlfriend Experience||Erica Myles||7 episodes|