"I am incredibly grateful for that part but I wouldn't want to go back to soap. It would be like going back to being a student when you've already got a job." Anna Friel
British actress Anna Friel was launched toward the spotlight while playing Beth Jordache (1993-1995) on the British Channel 4 soap opera ''Brookside,'' in which she drew controversy for delivering an onscreen lesbian kiss. Not long afterward, she courted further controversy for her nude scenes with co-stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Jeremy Northam in the television film ''The Tribe'' (1998).
Friel has since starred in such films as "The Land Girls" (1998), "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999), "Rogue Trader" (1999), "The War Bride" (2001), "Me Without You" (2001), "Timeline" (2003) and the "Goal!" films (2005 and 2007). She will play the lead in the upcoming film "Bathory" and will reprise her role in the third and final installment of the "Goal!" franchise, "Goal! 3." She is also set to co-star with John Hurt and Helen Mirren in Jon Amiel's upcoming crime drama/comedy film, "Angel Makers."
TV viewers can currently watch Friel starring as lonely tourist Charlotte "Chuck" Charles on ABC's new comedy-drama series "Pushing Daisies."
More personally, the 5' 2" Irish descendant formerly dated British actor Darren Day (1995-1996) and British singer Robbie Williams. She has been involved with British actor David Thewlis since 2001 and has one daughter with him.
Childhood and Family:
In Rochdale, Lancashire, England, Anna Friel was born on July 12, 1976, to teacher parents. She was raised in Donegal, Ireland.
"When I was 14, I always liked the nice boys, the popular ones, but I never got them. I was never in a position to fight over one. I just didn't have one." Anna Friel
Friel attended the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), in London, England. For her contribution to the performing arts, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bolton in November 2006.
In 2001, Friel began a relationship with English actor David Thewlis (born on March 20, 1963; plays Professor Lupin in the Harry Potter films), whom she met on a flight to Cannes. On July 9, 2005, Friel gave birth to their daughter, Gracie, at London's Portland Hospital.
"From the very beginning in my relationship with David [Thewlis], I made a promise to myself that I'd never try to change him because I fell in love with him just as he was. He's very talented and committed to his career, which he was totally immersed in at the time, and it was important we both had space to breathe and do what we wanted." Anna Friel
Bitten by the acting bug at an early age, Anna Friel found herself on the receiving end of praise for her work in a variety of local talent shows. She began acting as a teenager by performing with theatres across Britain.
In 1991, when she was 13 years old, Friel made her TV acting debut as the daughter of Michael Palin's character in an episode of the seven-part British television drama "G.B.H." This led to a string of appearances on various British television shows, including the award winning and critically acclaimed British soap opera ''Emmerdale Farm'' and the medical drama ''Medics.''
Not long afterward, Friel found herself added to the cast of the Channel 4 long-running soap ''Brookside.'' Playing Beth Jordache (1993-1995), the sexually-abused teen and first openly lesbian character on British TV, Friel caused a controversy with an onscreen lesbian kiss with the Farnham's Nanny Margaret Clemence (played by Nicola Stephenson) in December 1993. The show later won her a Most Popular Actress at the National Television Awards in 1995.
After leaving ''Brookside'' (her character was killed off at her request), Friel was spotted as a guest on several shows, including "The Imaginatively Titled Punt & Dennis Show," HBO's "Tales from the Crypt" and the second and third installments of "Cadfael" (shown in the U.S.A. on PBS' "Mystery!"). She then made her cinematic debut opposite Rachel Weisz and Paul Bettany in David Leland's adaptation of Angela Huth's novel, the period romantic drama ''The Land Girls'' (1998), playing young hairdresser Prue.
1998 also saw Friel creating further controversy for her nude scenes with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Jeremy Northam's characters in writer/director Stephen Poliakoff's film "The Tribe," which was made in 1996, but first appeared in 1998 on BBC Two. Meanwhile, she had the featured role of Bella Wilfer in that same year's BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' last novel, "Our Mutual Friend.”
Friel made her Broadway debut in 1999 (January-September) at the Music Box Theatre alongside Natasha Richardson, Rupert Graves and Ciaran Hinds in Patrick Marber's "Closer." She won Drama Desk and Theatre World awards for her performance as Alice the stripper.
During that time, she was also cast opposite Ewen McGregor in James Dearden's crime/drama film "Rogue Trader" (premiered in the United States on HBO). Additionally, she played Hermia in Michael Hoffman's all-star remake of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" alongside Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci, and Calista Flockhart.
In 2001, Friel was seen on the British stage in off-West End London’s production of Frank Wedekind's "Lulu" in which she portrayed the title role. Meanwhile, she starred in Lyndon Chubbuck's romantic drama film "The War Bride" and was nominated for a Genie Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. She also appeared in the TV commercial for Virgin Atlantic.
The following year, Friel, alongside boyfriend David Thewlis, became “The Faces Of Mulberry” for Spring 2002. She also starred in the British independent feature "Me Without You," which was written and directed by ''The Governess'' writer/director Sandra Goldbacher.
Friel was subsequently cast as Lady Claire in Richard Donner's critically-panned "Timeline" (2003), based on the 1999 Michael Crichton novel of the same name. Her boyfriend David Thewlis also starred in the disappointing film.
In 2005, Friel starred as Roz Harmison, the love interest of a professional soccer player (played by Kuno Becker), in Danny Cannon's "Goal! The Dream Begins." She later reprised her role in its second installment, "Goal II: Living the Dream" (2007).
Meanwhile, Friel also appeared in John Eyres' comedy film starring Eddie Griffin, "Irish Jam" (2006), Gary Yates' little dark comedy film "Niagara Motel" (2006; with Craig Ferguson and Kevin Pollak), and Ed Roe and Dougal Wilson's 12-minute comedy film "Rubbish," alongside Martin Freeman. She has also been the face of Pantene Pro-V Ice shine in the UK, appearing in both television commercials and print advertising. She has previously appeared in commercials for 3 Mobile.
TV viewers currently watch Friel starring as Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, Ned's (played by Lee Pace) childhood neighbor and boyhood crush, on ABC's new comedy-drama series "Pushing Daisies." The show premiered in the United States on October 3, 2007, and received a full season order on October 23, 2007.
As for her upcoming film projects, Friel has wrapped up "Bathory," a drama/horror film by Juraj Jakubisko based on the legends surrounding the life and deeds of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Friel portrays the title role in the film.
She is now filming "Goal! 3," the third and final installment of the "Goal!" franchise in which she will return as Roz. She will also co-star with John Hurt and Helen Mirren in Jon Amiel's upcoming crime drama/comedy film, "Angel Makers."
National Television: Most Popular Actress, "Brookside," 1995