‘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

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/julia-louis-dreyfus-veep.jpg
Julia Louis-Dreyfus: “Opportunity for women in television has increased. It’s because the landscape has widened”
"I did not come out of SNL as any kind of name. I didn’t do anything particularly great when I was there. I didn’t. It’s fine. But I learned a tremendous amount."
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Tituss-Burgess-Unbreakable-Kimmy-Schmidt.jpg
Tituss Burgess on How He Landed His ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Role
Burgess reveals how his role on 30 Rock led to 'Kimmy Schmidt' and whether or not he'd consider returning to Broadway.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Christine-Baranski-The-Good-Wife.jpg
Christine Baranski on the End of ‘The Good Wife’ and Going Back to Theatre
The final episode of The Good Wife airs on May 8, and it’s been several weeks since series star Christine Baranski shot the final episode with her co-stars. She spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the end of the series she has spent the last seven years working on and what she plans to do […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/jake-gyllenhaal-demolition.jpg
Jake Gyllenhaal on ‘Demolition’, Working with Chris Cooper and Directors Who Want Nothing to Do With Him
"I think storytelling is the most important part of movie-making over performance." - Jake Gyllenhaal
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/don-cheadle-miles-davis.jpg
Don Cheadle: “Be scared. Be on the edge of your creativity”
"Be willing to fall flat on your face and be in an unknown place. If you're doing that, you're probably growing" - Don Cheadle