Born Anna Louise Friel
12 July 1976 (1976-07-12) (age 34)
Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England
Years active 1986–present
Partner David Thewlis (2001-2010)
Friel was born in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, 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 Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Donegal, Ireland. Her brother Michael starred in Hovis television adverts.
She attended Crompton House Church of England High School, in High Crompton, Shaw and Crompton. She then attended Holy Cross College in Bury. Friel became interested in acting at an early age and received frequent praise for her work at local talent shows.