Anna Friel on Broken
Anna Friel on loving being dressed down to play a troubled mum, finally returning to Liverpool and why she rejected a film role to make Broken
tuesday / bbc1 / 9.00Pm
It’s more than two decades since Anna
Friel became a household name when she burst onto our screens as troubled Beth Jordache in Brookside.
Now, after carving out a career on the big screen and appearing in US series such as Pushing Daisies and in ITV crime thriller Marcella, the 40-year-old is delighted to be back in Liverpool filming BBC1’S powerful drama Broken, which continues this week.
‘I’ve not been in Liverpool for 23 years!’ says Anna as
TV Times chats with her in a trailer on set. ‘I was only here for 16 months when I did Brookside and I didn’t get to know the city because I was filming the entire time, so coming back is an odd turn of events. ‘I recently turned 40 and things have come full circle to where I was at 16. Liverpool is great now, though.
I’ve not felt intimidated in some of the supposedly hardest places. The people are kind and lovely and the place is pristine.’ ‘Pristine’ is perhaps not the word the usually glamorous Anna would use to describe her own attire when we meet. She is just about to film scenes as her character, struggling mum-of-three Christina Fitzsimmons, and is sporting a scruffy betting- shop uniform and several fake cuts and bruises from the fight she had with her boss in the first episode.
‘It’s great not having to put your eyelashes on, you can come in and look really rubbish,’ she laughs. ‘I only packed trainers and jogging
bottoms for when I’m not filming, but the other night I went to a posh restaurant so I had to go shopping quickly!’
Last week we saw christina fired from her job after the fight, and, unable to claim benefits, she resorted to extreme measures to provide for her children. Now she faces the consequences of her actions.
‘Like the name of the series, she is incredibly broken. She has worked hard, only to fall on desperate times. We’ve seen how far she will go and what she’ll do to protect her children, and now we see what that costs her,’ says Anna. ‘My research taught me how hard it is for a mother who loses her job. I couldn’t believe you can’t claim benefits for 13 weeks. How are you meant to feed your kids? It’s tragic.’
The one person on Christina’s side is caring priest Father Michael, played by Sean Bean, who tries to speak up for her as she faces the authorities.
‘Michael can feel that she’s in pain and he reaches out to her – he’s never judgemental,’ says Anna, who got an insight into the challenges faced by a priest like Father Michael by talking to her cousin.
‘He was a monk and then became a priest. He is the kindest, most wonderful man; he’s just got an aura and energy about him.’
The chance to co-star with Sean Bean was one that Anna jumped at.
‘I’m a big fan of his and everyone had told me he was lovely to work with,’ she says. ‘He’s just warm, gentle and compassionate, and so peaceful and calm. He has played this part so beautifully.’
Working on Broken has also
given Anna the opportunity to reunite with the drama’s creator, Jimmy Mcgovern, after playing another desperate mum in his series The Street in 2009.
‘I was offered a movie at the same time as Broken and I couldn’t do both so I had to make a decision and it was a no-brainer to do this,’ says Anna. ‘Jimmy is my favourite writer; I love him because he is so open and has this lovely Northernness and his work always shines a light on how things really are for people.’
Rochdale-born Anna will start filming a second series of Marcella this summer, so does working on that and Broken mean that Britain has won her back from Hollywood?
‘I just go with whoever is the best writer and who will stretch me, but doing Marcella was a nice reintroduction to the world of British TV and it’s worked out really well,’ she smiles . ‘And working on
Broken has been great because I’ve been able to see my baby [daughter Gracie, 11, with former partner, actor David Thewlis] at weekends.’
anna has been on our screens since she was just 13, when she took her first professional job as Michael Palin’s daughter in awardwinning drama 1991 GBH, but she admits she has mixed feelings about Gracie following in her footsteps.
‘Gracie has been offered so much work but, for David and I, it’s about whether the right thing arises; but it has to be her decision and it has to be the right environment,’ says Anna. ‘I’m so protective of children working in this industry because I know all the pitfalls.’
broken is previewed on pages 56-57
It was a no-brainer to choose Broken over a film
call to arms: anna Friel faces tough times in Broken
the actress’s off-screen look
is very glam
anna and Nicola stephenson’s infamous 1994 kiss in Brookside the star as troubled mum-of-three christina Fitzsimmons in Broken... ...and as ds backland in Itv’s Marcella