Anna Friel — things you didn't know about the 'Marcella' star

Actress and TV star Anna Friel.
Anna Friel is back on our screens in the new season of Marcella. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Anna Friel is back on our screens in Marcella season three, but she's also starred in US comedy series Pushing Daisies, as well as British soap operas Brookside, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. She made her big screen debut in 1998 film The Stringer before going on to star in the likes of Goal! and Limitless.

But there's lots you might not know about the Mancunian actress, so we've put together a list of some interesting facts about her. From starting her career young to starring in a music video, here's everything you need to know about Anna Friel.

1. Anna started acting when she was 13.

Anna Friel made her professional acting debut at age 13, playing Susan, the daughter of Michael Palin's character Jim Nelson in the TV miniseries G.B.H. It aired in 1991 and was BAFTA nominated, so her first appearance on our screens was very well received by audiences.

2. She was involved in one of the most memorable British TV moments ever.

One of Anna Friel's most well known roles is Beth Jordache from the Channel 4 soap Brookside. She played the character for two years between 1993 and 1995, and made quite the impression on fans. Anna was involved in a storyline featuring the first ever pre-watershed same-sex kiss between two women on British TV, but at the time was worried she'd be entirely defined by it.

Speaking to PinkNews, she said: "For a very long time I was defined by that kiss and I didn't want to be. I spent years turning down other lesbian roles because it felt like I would be going back to Beth."

3. She's starred in a Manic Street Preachers music video.

In 2010, Anna Friel starred in the music video for Manic Street Preachers' song (It's Not War) Just the End of Love alongside Welsh actor Michael Sheen. In it, Michael plays portrays an American chess master who is playing opposite a Soviet chess master portrayed by Anna. So far, it's the only music video she's been in.

4. She had to be rushed to hospital.

Anna has endometriosis, a long-term condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places. Despite being told by doctors she would have difficulty conceiving, Anna has one child named Gracie Ellen Mary Friel. She was diagnosed after a burst ovarian cyst had her hospitalised. She told The Guardian: "I was rushed to hospital and nearly died of septicaemia. They had to give me two blood transfusions. Had it been an hour later and it would have been bye bye." 

5. She has an honorary degree.

In 2006, Anna was awarded Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bolton for her contributions to the performing arts. She received her degree alongside Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox. Professor James Calderwood from the University of Bolton said: "Anna Friel is a star of television and film and while she may be a local lass she is on the world stage. This award of an honorary doctorate, therefore, is a fitting acknowledgement of what she has achieved."

Anna has appeared in television and print advertising campaigns for brands such as Reebok, Virgin Atlantic, Mulberry, Three, Pantene and Marks & Spencer.

7. She is an ambassador for wildlife charity WWF.

Anna Friel is an ambassador for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) alongside famous faces such as Sir David Attenborough, Princess Esméralda of Belgium and Sir Ian Cheshire. Previously, she has travelled to East Africa to discover how the charity is protecting mountain gorillas.

Anna Friel's Fact File

How old is she?

Anna Friel is 44 years old. She was born on 12 July 1976.

Where was she born? 

Anna Friel was born in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Is she married? 

Anna Friel is not married. She previously dated Harry Potter actor David Thewlis but the pair split in 2010. 

Does she have children?

Anna Friel has one child with David Thewlis, a daughter called Gracie Ellen Mary Friel. 

How tall is she?

Anna Friel is 1.65 m tall.

Instagram: @annafriel

Twitter: @annafriel

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.