Pin It

‘Pushing Daisies’ Anna Friel takes on ‘Uncle Vanya': “Every single word matters”

Sometimes an actor is faced with the decision of whether to choose a role for the popularity it will bring or to stick with more fulfilling projects.  British actress Anna Friel ended up choosing to star in a new production of Anton Chekov’s Uncle Vanya.

“I was actually offered a big job in LA at the same time as Uncle Vanya that would have earned me a lot of money and brought fame again,” Friel recounted to The Guardian.  “I say ‘fame again,’ but it would have heightened my profile because more people would have seen it on television.  But I thought this part would teach me more.  Now, my thinking tends to be, what have I not done?  I’d like to have longevity as an actress and be able to do theatre for many, many years and get better at that.”

Friel, of Pushing Daisies fame, researched the role of Yelena before rehearsals began.  “When I accepted it, I knew the play, but I’d never really studied Chekhov the person,” she said.  “So I went to Moscow for a few days and went to the Chekhov museum and asked lots of questions.  They said: ‘If you want to understand Chekhov, learn about a man called [Ivan] Bunin.’  He was his friend, a contemporary, and he wrote this beautiful book called About Chekhov.  You learn so much about the man that you can’t help but fall in love with him.  It’s his whole attitude to life: you must work and work and work.  Don’t waste a second of it.”

This was the perfect attitude for Friel to adopt, since the play can be emotionally draining.  “Sometimes you think: ‘Oh I’m really happy today, I’m with my daughter, and obviously I’ve got to go to the theatre and put myself in a very dark place,’” she said.  “But with this, I feel honored that I’m speaking Chekhov’s words.  That could sound wanky but I think he’s one of the most beautiful writers.  Where others would have a whole page of writing, he can condense it to just two sentences.  Every single world matters.”

The actress is quick to note the importance of the writer in the theatrical process.  “It all comes down to the writing: you’re as good as the writing you’re given,” Friel said.  “If Capote’s written something, it’s going to be brilliant and it’s just up to you to do the work.”

Leave a Reply

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-david-mamet-in-the-1976-sh.jpg
Watch: David Mamet in the 1976 Short Documentary ‘The Playwright Directs’
Though David Mamet is best known for his distinctive writing style in his scripts for the stage and screen, he has also directed theater and film. The 1976 short documentary titled The Playwright Directs depicts Mamet directing actors through several scenes at an almost frantic pace, dispensing pearls of wisdom throughout, like his thoughts on […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-marvels-agents-of-s-h-i-e.jpg
Watch: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Bloopers
Forgetting lines? Corpsing? Delivering lines in Spanish? Unruly props? All in a day’s work on the set of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, apparently. Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, and the rest of the cast find plenty of humor while playing super-serious secret agents in the Marvel Universe. While you’re waiting for season 2 of the series […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/audtion-tapes-robin-wright-and-h.jpg
Audition Tapes: Robin Wright and Haley Joel Osment Audition with Tom Hanks for ‘Forrest Gump’
Check out Robin Wright auditioning for the role of Jenny from Forest Gump opposite Tom Hanks. Interestingly enough, Hanks doesn’t quite have Gump’s southern drawl down just yet while the other actors audition with him. In fact, Hanks would base Gump’s voice on the voice of Michael Conner Humphreys, who played the young Forrest and […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/watch-judi-dench-sing-send-in-th.jpg
Watch Judi Dench Sing “Send In The Clowns” From Back in 1995
Dame Judi Dench has such a commanding presence as a film actress that it’s easy to forget that her big break came on stage in England with the Old Vic Company in 1957. In fact, she made her Broadway debut the very next year when the Old Vic Company performed Twelfth Night and Henry V […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/bryan-cranston-emmy-award-speech.jpg
Watch: Bryan Cranston’s Emmy Award Speech: “I love to act. It is a passion of mine and I will do it until my last breath.”
The Emmy Awards weren’t the most exciting awards show this year but with Bryan Cranston winning for Outstanding Actor in a Drama for Breaking Bad, we at least got to hear one heck of a fantastic acceptance speech. “I was a kid who always looked for the shortcut,” he said. “I did happen to stumble […]