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You have to stay truthful, although living in a state of sadness – even artificial sadness – really took its toll on me.I was quite relieved when filming ended.” After several years in Hollywood, Friel’s stock couldn’t be higher.There’s a lot to be said for taking time out for a tickle.” But juggling the busy diaries of three actors is far from easy and requires meticulous planes, trains and automobiles planning.

On the personal side, media coverage of her split from actor David Thewlis, with whom she has a daughter, Gracie, and her subsequent relationship with actor Rhys Ifans at one point threatened to eclipse one of her finest performances, namely as Holly Golightly in the West End version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

“It does get me a bit down when the press wants to go on and on about my private life while I want to concentrate on the work I’m doing,” she says, with unexpected mildness, given her reputation for unblinking intensity when it comes to her craft.

After huge acclaim, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is transferring to Broadway, with a cast change – but, tellingly, the producers are adamant they want Friel to take this most iconic role across the pond.

“Doing theatre is fabulous when you get older,” she sighs, wistfully. Because you have so much more experience to draw on for your character?

Anna Friel is nestled deep inside a voluminous Joseph sweater that prettily swamps her waif-like frame.

Her hair is a chestnut tumble, brow smooth as a milkmaid, yet her wide green eyes are watchful as a startled cat.“Rhys is a lovely, lovely man and brilliant with Gracie, but he’s not her dad and he’d never try to be.He’s more of a mate, a companion in crime, to her; they’re always playing silly tricks on me and we generally end up in a heap tickling each other.“David and I promised each other we would stay friends and we have; he has a house opposite us in Windsor and when we can, we do the school run together or if Gracie needs new shoes, the three of us go off shoe-shopping together,” she says.Gracie, she stresses, is accustomed to travelling – she chalked up 10 countries in her first year of life – and to spending time with one parent or the other, which has greatly lessened the impact of separation, and Friel claims (one hopes not hubristically) that her daughter is entirely unaffected by her parents’ break-up.In Without You, Friel plays Ellie Manning, the happy wife of Hustle star Marc Warren.One evening, as she waits for him to return home from work, two policewomen come to the door. His female passenger was also killed; does she know the identity of the mystery woman? And so her torture begins, her descent into madness all but assured as she wrestles with the appalling suggestion that her husband may have been living a lie.“Rhys has his own schedule and at this stage I honestly have no idea whether I’ll be moving back to LA or not.” Broody thoughts of having a baby with Ifans are another complicating factor and Friel is upfront about her plans.“I really would love more children, but I have three mortgages to pay, I don’t know where I’ll be and I honestly have no idea when I’ll find the time…” she trails off, helplessly and looks – improbably – even more ethereal than before.) specifically because of her Lancashire vowels, are wide of the mark – a happy coincidence rather than a deal-breaker.Interestingly – happily – now we’ve discussed The Work, Friel is sweetly eager to talk about her home life and offers a vivid portrait of a complex, but loving, extended family dividing time between Britain, France and Los Angeles.

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