American viewers got familiar with British actress Anna Friel on the cult favorite dreamlike show “Pushing Daisies.” Now, fans get to see very different sides of Friel as she stars in crime drama “Marcella” on Netflix and as mother Rose Regan in the new thriller, “I.T.”
In “I.T.,” Friel’s family is being stalked by a hacker who once worked for Pierce Brosnan’s character, CEO Mike Regan. Friel talked to CBS News about her role in the film and the legacy of “Pushing Daisies.”
You play a mother whose daughter is being cyber-stalked in “I.T.” You have a young daughter yourself. Did working on this movie make you scared for her future?
I think I was already nervous about what could happen in the future because I’m not very tech-savvy, and also all the stories we’re hearing about hacking and government hacking, it’s an incredibly dangerous world we’re going to be presented with in the future. It’s hard to keep reins on it, but we have the child locks and everything. My parents are both teachers, and it’s part of the schooling program now to educate people on technology and how to protect children.
As a famous actress, can you relate to the family who’s being stalked?
I’ve had a stalker, yeah, but it was not a very nice experience. I don’t want to go into it, but I can relate to it.
You were cast in this movie as Pierce Brosnan’s wife, even though you’re more than 20 years younger than him. Was that strange for you?
Well, I’ve always kind of had parts that were much older than me -- the father of my child is 13 years older than me. I don’t look at age as being a real problem and the situation they’re in -- an incredibly wealthy man who had the choice of many, many women and chose to go with a woman many, many years younger and he loves her very much and she loves him … When you meet Pierce -- he’s very attractive, charming and gorgeous. You don’t think of his age, you just think, “What a gorgeous man.”
You became known to American audiences through “Pushing Daisies” -- fans were so upset when the show got canceled. Would you be interested in a revival?
I think it was very much ahead of its time. I think there’s been a lot of plagiarism -- I won’t name them -- but things with that feel and they try to emulate what we did many years ago, and it’s great to see what shows do for other people, but yeah -- it was good. Thankfully, I’m a busy working girl, so it’s not that the “Pushing Daisies” cancellation put me out of work. It gave me a platform.
I love all that team. I think what was most beautiful is it concentrated on love and when the world is so negative, I think people wanted that. What a beautiful, happy world to be in for an hour and it was incredibly intelligent.
Recently, people come up to me and say they only just discovered it and I say, “Now?” And they say, “Yeah, we love it.” The element of “love can conquer all, even if you can’t touch each other” -- I think it was lovely to have that beautiful, enchanted world, so never say never to it. It deserves another chance.
You star in “Marcella,” which is about a detective whose life spirals out of control after her husband leaves her. Have you ever felt that way?
I think anybody who’s gone through separation has felt not out of control, but lonely and full of despair. It’s hard to go through a breakup -- it affects people in some way -- but it’s also the death of her baby. That sets off a dissociative fugue, when stress becomes so much that the brain can’t cope with it and pumps the body with cortisol. You can go on as much as you can from your real life. I haven’t had dissociative fugues, but you relate to what you possibly can and exaggerate that.
What’s been your most challenging role?
There’s a film yet to come out about a woman who had nine children and was repeatedly raped in front of them and the children had such a hard life. They lived in a shed at the end of the garden, and getting into that headspace was difficult.
But to date I would say “Marcella” because it was two hours every day and she’s this character who doesn’t have any scenes where she really smiles, so it was hard to land truthfully into that mindspace.
Did that seep into your personal life as well?
What was hard was not showing absolute exhaustion. I have a child and I’d get home just in time for bedtime and she didn’t want mommy saying I was so tired, I’d had a hard time. So you’ve got your last push. That was exhausting, but I knew the show was something special.
What are you working on now?
I’m on set now for something called “Broken,” by Jimmy McGovern. It’s very political and it’s also about poverty and religion. I play Christina, a mother of three, who absolutely has nothing and is told she won’t have government support for 13 weeks. It’s about the struggle with poverty that is all around us.