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Anna Louise Friel (born 12 July 1976) is an Englishmarker actress. She rose to fame in the UKmarker on Channel 4 soap Brookside, and has had a successful career since in UK and US TV and cinema.

Early life

Friel was born in Rochdalemarker, Greater Manchestermarker, the daughter of Julie, a special needs teacher, and Des Friel, a former teacher of French and owner of a Web Design Company. Friel's Irish Catholic father, a former folk guitarist, was born in Belfastmarker, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Donegalmarker, Ireland. Her brother Michael starred in the Hovis television adverts. She attended Crompton House Church of England High Schoolmarker, in High Cromptonmarker, Shaw and Cromptonmarker. She then attended Holy Cross Collegemarker in Burymarker. Friel became interested in acting at an early age and received frequent praise for her work at local talent shows.

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 Emmerdalemarker. 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. Though she only stayed on the programme for two years, Friel's lesbian kiss remains one of the most talked-about moments in British soap history. In 1995, Friel won the National Television Award for Most Popular Actress for her work on Brookside.

In 1996, Friel 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.

In 1998 she appeared in the original Broadwaymarker run of Closer by Patrick Marber at the Music Box Theatre in Manhattanmarker, United Statesmarker winning a Drama Desk Award and a Theatre World award for her performance as Alice. In 2001, she made her West Endmarker stage debut in Londonmarker 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; 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! 2: 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.

In the pilot season following the cancellation of Pushing Daisies, Friel was offered six pilots but declined all six roles in favour of focusing on her movie career.

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

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

In May 2009, Friel confirmed that she will star in a West Endmarker adaptation of the novel Breakfast at Tiffany's. The show started in September 2009 at the Theatre Royal Haymarketmarker.

Friel is due to star in a film London Boulevard alongside Ray Winstone, Colin Farrell, and Keira Knightley which is expected to be released in 2010. It also stars her real life partner David Thewlis.

Personal life

In 2001, Friel began a relationship with actor David Thewlis, whom she met on a flight to Cannesmarker. Their daughter, Gracie Ellen Mary Friel, was born on 9 July, 2005, at Portland Hospitalmarker in London.

In 2008 Friel began supporting the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign in support of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, alongside fellow celebrities, Alan Carr, Angela Griffin, Natalie Imbruglia, Edith Bowman and Twiggy.

Friel advocates the work of the Burma Campaign UK, an NGO committed to bringing about change in the deeply troubled 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)
  • 2008 Satellite Awards – 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 University of Boltonmarker.


Year Title Role Other notes
1991 G.B.H. Susan Nelson TV mini-series
1992 Emmerdalemarker Poppy Bruce Episodes
1993 Medics Holly Jarrett Episode (#3.3)
1993-1995 Brookside Beth Jordache Episodes
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 The Land Girls Prue (Prudence)
Our Mutual Friend Bella Wilfer Episodes (#1.1, #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 Cast Member
2008 Bathory Countess Erzsébet Báthory
2009 Land of the Lost Holly Cantrell
The Street Dee Purnell Episodes (#3.2 and #3.3)
2010 London Boulevard Briony upcoming film
Angel Makers Lizzie upcoming film


  6. Retrieved on 20 December 2007.
  8. Fashion Targets Breast Cancer

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