Putting Brookside's Beth, that infamous lesbian kiss and a failed relationship behind her, ANNA FRIEL is ready to take on the world. And the tabloids.

M's/Ores: Kathleen Morgan Driotograaf‘s: John Rogers/FSP

‘1 DON'T WANT to be the next Ewan .Vchregor.’ says actress Anna Friel. wine glass in hand. but sounding exceptionally sober. ‘I want to be the first Anna liriel.‘

If she doesn’t want to lie the Scottish actor who has Hollywood at his feet. Friel might just settle for being McGregor's female equivalent. After all. they have more in common than their starring roles as man and wife in Rogue Trader. the forthcoming biopic of jailed city dealer Nick Leeson.

‘We are male and female versions of each other.‘ says liriel. eyes glittering. ‘l-lis parents are both teachers: so are mine. His brother flies for the RAF: so does mine. We both have two lingers up to the class thing and the American thing . . . because of all that. we‘ve given a great performance together.‘

friends~ houses attempting to get her life in order.

Tentatively. Friel has begun to talk about the experience. Was she hurt‘.’ ‘()h God. I can't ever tell you how much.’ she says. ‘I had a real fucking ordeal last year that nearly tore me apart. Think how it feels to have your heart broken.

'l was dealing with it in the best way I could. which was working and not having to think about it. But rather than being left alone there was the press camped on my doorstep all the time.‘

The legacy of the whole experience is double-edged. It has left her feeling emotionally battered 'I learned there is a very fine line between love and hate. but l‘riel has managed to pull

'I had a real fucking ordeal last year that nearly tore me apart. Think how it feels to

It is three years since the Rochdale-born actress relinquished her crown as Britain‘s soap queen and laid her Brookside character Beth Jordache to rest. She had captured the nation’s heart as the lesbian adolescent who helped

herself together personally and prof- essionally. She has bought herself a flat in West Kensington


8 THE lIST 6—19 Mar 1998

murder her incestuous father and bury him under the patio. Friel became a living-room star and a bedroom pin-up almost from her screen debut in the soap at age sixteen. .\'ow 2|. she hopes the nation will let her move on. ‘If I'm worth anything. people will let Beth go.' she says.

Friel has a couple of distractions tip her sleeve. Before Rogue Trader comes the BBC‘s latest period drama ()ur .Wuluul l’riend. an adaptation of Dickens's last finished novel. in which she stars with Paul .VIcGann and Steven Mackintosh. Also in the can are Laud Girls. a Channel 4 film set during World War ll. again with Mackintosh; three BBC films The Tribe. St [res and The .S'rriiiger: and a movie in the Tales From The Crypt series. She also plans to visit Edinburgh to help choose locations for an independent film to be shot in the city.

good factor

For now though. Friel is still intoxicated by her recent fortnight's filming with .V’chregor in Singapore. She speaks of successive nights shooting in Kuala Lumpur and finishing at 5am. only to begin drinking margarita in sessions that shocked the locals. Friel still sports the blonde. flicked haircut that replaced her trademark long dark locks for her role as Lisa .\'eeson in Rogue Trader.

‘Ewan is the best. he's a wonderful guy.‘

says Friel. Her answer to tabloid rumours of

something more than friendship between her and the star of A Life Less ()rdiiiarv is simply: ‘l'll let them think what they want.‘

She has had enough of the press bounding her about her love life. While she was working six-day weeks during the filming of Land Girls. the tabloids were running stories about her break-up with actor and TV game show host Darren Day. Day spoke about ending his relationship with Friel while she kept quiet. The news that he was to marry actress Tracy Shaw. who plays (‘oroualiou Street‘s Maxine.

completed Friel's public humiliation. Stories of

Friel having an affair with singer Robbie Williams followed as she moved between

and feels that at last she is regaining her

have your heart confidence. She broken ' Anna Friel believes that if her '

hard work pays off. she can find a place in the big league.

‘The biggest lesson I learned from last year was to stop looking for happiness from other people.‘ she says. ‘l'm by myself and I‘m loving it. It's a huge commitment. having a mortgage at 21. btit I'm totally happy being just me. As far as romance goes. that will come along at the right time. Being in love is the best feeling in the world.’

As Bella Wilfer in ()ur .VIqual Friend. Friel portrays the love game at its most raw in Victorian London. Bella‘s hand in marriage is promised to a rich young man whose inheritance is conditional on the match. When he is reported drowned. she is drawn into a rel- ationship with a mysterious figure. played by Stephen Mackintosh. but remains deter- mined to marry out of poverty.

‘lt‘s a mistake a lot of us make.’ says Friel. ‘Bella thinks that what will make her happy is money. but what makes her happy is love. Dickens is very clever. People don‘t change it's only our environment and circumstances that change.‘

L'ntil we see Friel in Rogue Trader or Laud Girls. it's hard to say whether she will crack the movie business. She thinks a recent tour of LA big wigs with her agent was productive. but says she refused to play their game: 'I thought. I'm not going in there to sell myself. I'm going to show them who l am. They love me because I‘m absolutely real.‘

If her dreams come true. she‘ll be Hollywood‘s first Anna Friel. Until then. she has another fantasy. ‘I want to be married in Scotland.. she says, narrowing her eyes and watching fora reaction. ‘1 know this castle with a moat around it so no press can get in.‘ And what will be playing as she marches up the isle'.’ “'Stand By Me" by Oasis.‘

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