Anna Friel is bleeding for her art, literally. To play the role of Sgt. Odelle Ballard, a U.S. soldier on the run in hostile territory, in NBC’s American Odyssey (Airing Sundays at 9pm ET/PT), Friel has undergone grueling military training and endured months of demanding shoots in Morocco’s dust and heat. The actress proudly boasts of the injuries she’s suffered to play her lionhearted character, and lists her bumps and bruises — including torn ligaments in her foot — without much complaint, reverent of her character’s dangerous experiences in her struggle to get home. “I’ve got to put on a brave face. If Odelle can go through all of that, then I can put on a pair of heels.” She laughs, “I can’t be a puss.” Then Friel answers our “5 Questions.”
1. If your TV carried just three shows or networks, what would they be?
I loved The Killing — the original Danish version — I haven’t seen the American one. I love Top Chef. Anything to do with cookery I adore, because it’s just a complete and utter switch-off. And I’m a big House of Cards fan.
2. You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which ones do you choose?
You can’t go wrong with Vogue. And Vanity Fair — I like its political content. I’m not a big magazine buyer. I get InStyle sometimes; I like a little look at it.
3. What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
I have a juice every day. My brother’s a doctor and he came on the set of Pushing Daisies and was appalled that I existed on coffee and sugar. So he redid my diet and everything in my fridge goes into this juice: frozen berries, walnuts, carrots, broccoli; they’re all of the things I have to have every single morning.
4. Tell us about a time when you were starstruck.
Tom Cruise came to visit Natasha Richardson when we did Closer [on Broadway], and she invited me down to go meet him, and I was a little dreamy-eyed.
5. What has been your strangest fan encounter?
I just did a movie with Johnny Galecki from The Big Bang Theory, and I’ve never seen the likes of the fan reactions when they saw him. We were in Vancouver and people were reaching out and touching him and yelling, “Oh my God, I touched him!!!” I hadn’t really seen The Big Bang Theory, so I didn’t know it was such a huge phenomenon. I turned to him and said, “Oh my God, is that what you deal with all of the time?” He turned to me and said with a deadpan face, “Yep!”