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Anna Friel

Anna Friel

Anna Louise Friel (born 12 July 1976) is an English actress. She rose to fame in the UK as Beth Jordache on the Channel 4 soap Brookside. In the USA, she is probably best known for her movie work or as Charlotte "Chuck" Charles in Pushing Daisies.

Early life

Anna was born in Rochdale the daughter of Julie, a special needs teacher, and Des Friel, a former teacher of French and owner of a web design company.[1][2] Anna's Irish Catholic father, a former folk guitarist, was born in Belfast, and grew up in County Donegal.[3][4][5] Her brother, Michael, starred in Hovis television adverts.[6]

She attended Crompton House Church of England High School (High Crompton), and later attended Holy Cross College (Bury).[7] She began her training as an actress at Oldham Theatre Workshop.

Acting career

At the age of 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 gained greater exposure in the role of Beth Jordache. She stayed on the programme for two years.Template:Citation needed Anna's on-air lesbian kiss was the first in British soap history.[8] In 1995, Anna won the National Television Award for Most Popular Actress for her work on Brookside.[9]

In 1996, Anna courted further controversy when she 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.[10]

In 2001, she made her West End stage début in London in a fringe production of Lulu, which also transferred to Broadway.[11]

Anna'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;Template:Citation needed 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.[12] Although popular with critics, in November 2008, creator Bryan Fuller stated that it had been cancelled due to poor ratings.[13] The show ran for two seasons.

In the pilot season following the cancellation of Pushing Daisies, Anna was offered six pilots but declined all six roles in favour of focusing on her film career.[14]

In November 2006, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bolton for contributions to the performing arts.[15]

She has also been seen as the face of Pantene Pro-V Ice shine in the United Kingdom, appearing in both television advertisements and print advertising. She has also appeared in adverts on television for 3 Mobile and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

In September 2009, Anna starred in a West End adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.[16]

Anna Friel David Thewlis

Anna and her husband David Thewlis.

In April 2010, she was cast in the psychological thriller film The Dark Fields[17] (now entitled Limitless and released in March 2011). In November 2010, Anna starred in London Boulevard alongside Ray Winstone, Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley and her then husband David Thewlis.[18]

Anna 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.[19]

In January 2011, Anna appeared in a episode of the BBC series Come Fly with Me as a fictionalised version of herself[20]. In the show she is bald and has lost her wig.

In December 2011, she played the star role (Ellie Manning) in ITV's series drama Without You.[21] 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, Anna began filming for The King of Soho, a biographical movie about "porn baron" Paul Raymond, in which she plays Raymond's wife Jean alongside Steve Coogan as Raymond.[22]

Personal life

Anna Friel bump

Anna and her husband David Thewlis while she was pregnant with their daughter.

In May 2001, Anna began a relationship with actor David Thewlis, after the pair met on a flight to Cannes, and they married later the same year.[23][24][25][26] Shortly after they married, Anna collapsed and was rushed to hospital, needing emergency surgery and two blood transfusions for a burst ovarian cyst.[1][2]

It was later discovered that she suffers from endometriosis and would have great difficulty conceiving. However, she did eventually manage to conceive, and gave birth to a daughter, Gracie Ellen Mary Thewlis,[27][28][29] on 9 July 2005 at Portland Hospital in London. Anna reportedly had a very difficult labour, and was passing in and out of conciousness repeatedly, due to the fact that the baby had not turned properly. Due to the difficult situation, the doctors were on the verge of performing an emergency caesarian section when the baby turned and was delivered normally. In December 2010, Anna and David divorced after ten years together.[30]

In 2008, Anna began supporting the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign in support of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.[31]

Anna also advocates the work of the Burma Campaign UK, an NGO committed to bringing about change in the nation.

Awards and nominations

  • 2009 Royal Television Society North West Award – Best Performance in a Single Drama or Drama Series for The Street
  • 2008 Golden Globe – Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Comedy or Musical Nomination for Pushing Daisies (nominee)
  • 1999 Drama Desk Awards – Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for "Closer"
  • 1995 TV Times Awards – Best Actress
  • 1994 TV Quick Magazine – Best Newcomer
  • Honorary degree, awarded by the University of Bolton.


Year Title Role Other notes
1991 G.B.H. Susan Nelson TV mini-series
1992 Emmerdale Poppy Bruce Episodes
1993 Medics Holly Jarrett Episode (No.3.3)
1993–1995 Brookside Beth Jordache Episodes
1995 The Imaginatively Titled Punt & Dennis Show Episode (No.2.1)
1996 Tales from the Crypt Angelica Episode ("About Face")
Cadfael (TV series) Sioned Episode ("A Morbid Taste for Bones")
1998 The Land Girls Prue (Prudence)
Our Mutual Friend Bella Wilfer Episodes (No.1.1, No.1.2)
The Stringer Helen
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 Fear Storyteller Recurring
The War Bride Lily
Me Without You Marina
2002 Fields of Gold Lucia Merritt TV film
2003 Watermelon Claire Ryan TV film
Last Rumba in Rochdale Bodney Voice actor
Timeline Lady Claire
2004 Perfect Strangers Susie Wilding
2005 Goal! Roz Harmison
2006 Irish Jam Maureen
Niagara Motel Denise
2007 Goal! 2: Living the Dream... Roz Harmison
Rubbish Isobel
2007–2008 Pushing Daisies Charlotte "Chuck" Charles Main cast
2008 Bathory Countess Erzsébet Báthory
2009 Land of the Lost Holly Cantrell
The Street Dee Purnell Episodes (No.3.2 and No.3.3)
2010 London Boulevard Briony
Angel Makers Lizzie upcoming film
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Iris
2011 Neverland Elizabeth Bonny TV film
Treasure guards Victoria Eckhart TV film
Come Fly with Me Herself Comedy series
Without You Ellie TV Series
Limitless Melissa
2012 Public Enemies Paula Radnor Drama series


  • Anna Friel wedding ring

    A rare picture of Anna wearing her wedding ring.

    Although she was married to David Thewlis for nine years, Anna only rarely wore her wedding ring.
  • Ranked #21 in Wizard magazine's Sexiest Women of TV list (March 2008).
  • Was one of People Magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People in the world (2008).
  • Was the runner up for Helena Bonham Carter's role in Fight Club.


  1. "Anna Friel". Anna Friel. 1995-05-23. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. http://www.annafriel.org/afsh95.htm. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  2. "Anna Friel Interview" Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times, 18th February 2001
  3. "The Look Mirror Interview". Anna Friel. 5 June 1999. http://www.annafriel.org/aflk99.html. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  4. Leith, William (9 August 1998). "Anna Friel: Lipstick thespian". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/1998/aug/09/williamleith. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  5. "The Official Anna Friel website". Annafriel.org. 11 December 1996. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. http://www.annafriel.org/aftm96.html. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  6. Leith, William (9 August 1998). "Anna Friel: Lipstick thespian". www.guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/1998/aug/09/williamleith. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  7. Roffey, Monique (2 October 1994). "When Anna and Beth kissed Margaret: Anna Friel plays Brookside's lesbian pin-up. Monique Roffey met her". www.theindependent.co.uk. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/when-anna-and-beth-kissed-margaret-anna-friel-plays-brooksides-lesbian-pinup-monique-roffey-met-her-1440368.html. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  8. "Discover more about the stars of BBC Drama - Anna Friel". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/faces/anna_friel.shtml. 
  9. "Pictured: Iconic Brookside Close rotting away after years of neglect". www.dailymail.co.uk. 31 October 2008. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1082037/Pictured-Iconic-Brookside-Close-rotting-away-years-neglect.html. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  10. "BuddyTV Bio". BuddyTV. http://www.buddytv.com/articles/pushing-daisies/profile/anna-friel.aspx. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  11. "Friel shines as Lulu". www.dailymail.co.uk. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-31955/Friel-shines-Lulu.html. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  12. "(Pushing Daisies)About This Show". The Futon Critic. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/devwatch.aspx?id=pushing_daisies. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  13. "Pushing Daisies Cancelled, Eli Stone + Dirty Sexy Money At Risk". www.imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/news/ni0611099/. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  14. Dos Santos, Kristin; Jennifer Godwin (2009-02-26). "Pushing Daisies: What's Anna Friel's Next Project?". E! Online - Watch with Kristin. http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/b101903__lt_i_gt_Pushing_Daisies_lt__i_gt___What_s_Anna_Friel_s_Next_Project_.html. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  15. "University announces winter Honorary Doctorates". University of Bolton. 24 November 2006. http://www.bolton.ac.uk/News/News-Articles/2006/nov2006-3.aspx. 
  16. "Entertainment | West End Breakfast for Anna Friel". BBC News. 15 May 2009. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8052020.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  17. "The Beautiful Anna Friel Latest to Enter 'The Dark Fields'". Bloody-disgusting.com. http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/19691. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  18. "Anna Friel the Next to Run Through the Dark Fields". Dreadcentral.com. http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/36770/anna-friel-next-run-through-dark-fields. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  19. "Sheen's painful embrace". 3 September 2010. www.thisissouthwales.co.uk. http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Sheen-s-painful-embrace/story-12399758-detail/story.html. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  20. Series 1 episode 5, accompanied by Moses (Great British Air's executive passenger liaison)
  21. Without You at ITV web site
  22. Reigning the streets of London: Steve Coogan and Anna Friel start shooting The King Of Soho porn baron biopic, Daily Mail, 12 March 2012.
  23. Anna Friel is a blushing beauty, www.thesun.co.uk, June 30 2012.
  24. Barefoot Anna Friel ditches the heels after partying all night in London's West End, Daily Mail, August 30 2009.
  25. David Thewlis is the 'Anonymous' actor who's everywhere, Los Angeles Times, January 12 2012.
  26. Anna Is Bloomin' Lovely! - Smash Hit Brit Babe Is Fresh As A Daisy Daily Star, April 12 2008.
  27. Anna Friel and David Thewlis Proud Parents, Hollywood.com, July 12 2005.
  28. MacDonald, Marianne (26 September 2005). "Post-natal confession". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/3646815/Post-natal-confession.html. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  29. 'Yummy mummy' Anna Friel takes a break from busy schedule to enjoy a family day out, Daily Mail, 10 August 2009.
  30. "Friel, Thewlis split after nine years". Digital Spy. 2010-12-14. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/showbiz/news/a293164/friel-thewlis-split-after-nine-years.html?rss. Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  31. "Fashion Targets Breast Cancer". Targetbreastcancer.org.uk. http://www.targetbreastcancer.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 

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