Anna Friel gets really honest about her role in ITV’s Marcella

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Kayleigh Dray
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Marcella season 3: Anna Friel’s character is “dead”, and the Scandi noir feels very different as a result

A second series of the critically-acclaimed Marcella is due to return to our screens very soon – but Anna Friel, who stars as the titular detective, admits she had her doubts about the show.

Anna Friel is set to reprise her role as DS Marcella Backland in ITV’s noir detective drama, Marcella, when it airs later this month. 

And, while there are plenty of tough female cops on the small screen at the moment (the most recent of which is DI Kip Glaspie, Carey Mulligan’s character in Collateral), Marcella certainly stands out from the crowd. She’s tough, but she’s vulnerable. She’s fiercely independent and capable, despite the fact she suffers from inexplicable blackouts. And she’s coolly logical – yet still finds herself a victim of her own passionate outbursts.

Naturally, the Hans Rosenfeldt-helmed show proved to be a ratings hit during its first outing in 2016. And yet, despite this, Friel, who won an International Emmy Award in November for the role, has admitted that she was initially concerned about joining the cast of the show.

Speaking to reporters, the actress said (via BT): “I just thought, ‘Oh God, how can I do this, there’s so many amazing female detectives that have done it so well, I don’t know what I can offer differently.’

“So I had to really work hard on that.”

However, relieved that series one managed to hold its own among the rest of the crime dramas, she then jumped at the chance of a second run.

“I think when it was received as well as it was, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I have done something that is different and I’ve got my own ownership and my own stamp on it,’” she confessed.

“That was very nice.”

The new series is set to pick up a few months after the first one left off: Backland has seemingly recovered from her illness, having gone without a blackout for some time, and is back solving grisly murders.

When a body of is discovered bricked inside a wall, Marcella is devastated to discover that it is that of schoolboy Leo Priestley, who was abducted a few years beforehand and was a friend of her own son.

And, of course, as she delves ever deeper into the investigation, the detective’s world to come tumbling down around her once again. How long will it be before she slips into her old ways?

Friel said that, as soon as the second series was confirmed, she had to prepare for the “quite harrowing” filming process.

“With this one, because you don’t want to go ‘poor me, it’s so hard’, you have to be truthful in your performance, and the thoughts that the camera captures, and you have to go there,” she explained.

“So you have to just mentally prepare and think that for four and a half months I’m not going to be the happiest bunny.”

Marcella returns to ITV at 9pm on Monday 19 February.

Images: ITV


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.