Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
The Piano, True Blood, X-Men Series
Currently Known For:
The Piano, True Blood, X-Men Series
“I’m drawn to doing interesting stuff at work. And some of the time with the supernatural, you get to do really crazy, fun things. But I’m not a big genre-fantasy gal, particularly.” The second youngest Oscar winner in history, Anna Paquin won her first big role as a child in the 1993 romantic drama The Piano. Only 11 years old at the time, Paquin won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and skyrocketed to overnight fame as she made appearances in Fly Away Home (1996), The Member of the Wedding (1997), and A Walk on the Moon (1999), all three of which earned her Young Artist Award nominations.
Making the transition into more mature roles in the new millennium, Paquin did not disappoint as she joined the Marvel Universe as the mutant superhero Rogue in X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). While the films have all been huge hits for Paquin, nothing tops her performance as Sookie Stackhouse in the HBO vampire drama series, True Blood, which ran from 2008 to 2014. Earning a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance in 2009 and a nomination in 2010, Paquin took home numerous other accolades in addition to marrying her handsome costar, Stephen Moyer, in 2010. So, what’s the 36-year-old’s secret to success? Let’s take a closer look!
“I was painfully shy. I found it paralyzing to talk to new people.” Anna Helene Paquin came into this world on July 24, 1982, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where her father was a high school gym teacher and her mother was an English teacher. When she was four years old, her family relocated to New Zealand where she flourished as she took cello, viola, and piano lessons in addition to participating in sports like swimming, downhill skiing, gymnastics, and ballet.
Paquin never envisioned herself on the stage, at least not as an actress, but that all changed when she was nine years old. At the time, her older sister saw a newspaper advertisement announcing open auditions for director Jane Campion’s next film, The Piano, which was set to film in New Zealand. Paquin’s sister, Katya, went to audition with a friend and, not wanting to be left out, Paquin followed suit despite her only acting experience coming a few years prior as a skunk in the school play. Fortunately, Campion didn’t mind Paquin’s lack of experience and, out of 5,000 auditions, cast Paquin in the role of Flora McGrath.
The Piano was a huge hit among critics and at the box office, winning several awards at film festivals around the country. The 11-year-old Paquin was praised for her performance and took home the 1993 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the second youngest Oscar winner in history after Tatum O’Neal. However, the win wasn’t a big deal for the youngster who never intended on making a career out of acting in the first place. “I didn’t really have any overwhelming opinions about it. I was 11,” she said of her overnight success and stardom. “I wanted to go back to school and be with my friends. Jobs came along, and they were really good, and once in a while, my parents would let me do one. Once I was old enough to have an opinion, I still had a career—thank God, because they still hadn’t made that decision for me—and I picked up with it. The Oscar is a means to an end. It’s an amazing privilege, obviously, but it also lets me do what I do. I wouldn’t have a career otherwise.”
“Maybe I’m misjudging people, but I feel like a lot of people still have an image of me in a bonnet at nine years old.” Following her success with The Piano, Paquin appeared in Jane Eyre (1996) and Fly Away Home (1996) before embracing her teen stardom with appearances in Amistad (1997), A Walk on the Moon (1999), She’s All That (1999), and Almost Famous (2000). In the new millennium, she entered the Marvel Comics realm as the mutant superheroine Rogue in X-Men. At the time, the film marked a huge shift in Paquin’s career as she proved her talents as a leading lady. “Honestly, I usually get cast in interesting roles where being aesthetically pleasing is a bonus—not as the bombshell girlfriend who doesn’t get to do much,” she said of going for edgier roles and becoming a sci-fi heartthrob.
Paquin later reprised her role as Rogue in X2 (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) before she ventured into television with the HBO horror series, True Blood. “You get to actually develop the characters past an hour and a half,” Paquin said of shifting gears from theater and film to television. “You get episode after episode of really interesting writing that makes you go to more and more complex places and you really get deep into a part… but I really like the idea of focusing on one thing for, hopefully, a long time to come. I also like the idea of a consistent lifestyle, as opposed to not really knowing where on the planet you’re going to be at any given moment.”
Ironically, Paquin never thought she’d win the part of Sookie. “I didn’t honestly believe it was going to happen. If someone doesn’t walk in the room looking the way a character is described on the page, a lot of people can’t see it,” the brown-haired Paquin said of auditioning for the role of the blonde-haired and sultry Sookie. Luckily, the show’s creator, Alan Ball, saw beyond Paquin’s hair color and knew she was perfect for the role. “It’s weird because now I can’t imagine another Sookie,” Ball says. “At the time Anna read for the part, she was pale, brunette, and kind of Gothy. But she understood the weirdness of the role.”
Making her debut as Sookie Stackhouse in the True Blood premiere on September 7, 2008, Paquin quickly became a fan favorite as the series received rave reviews and numerous award wins. She earned dozens of award nominations and a handful of wins including a 2008 and 2009 Satellite Award for Best Actress and Best Cast, a 2009 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, and a 2009 and a 2010 Screen Award for Best Horror Actress.
Beyond the accolades, the role also pushed the naturally shy Paquin to become more of an extrovert. “I'm a big believer in ‘fake it to make it,’” Paquin admitted. “I went out and bought some incredibly short shorts and a push-up bra that I knew were going to be a part of my new life. It’s not that I’m a prude, but I’m not a massive exhibitionist, either.” The short shorts and the push-up bra certainly worked as Paquin learned the ins and outs of television and benefited from the incredibly talented costume designers on set. “There are some dresses they’ve built for me that are architecture,” she said. “No disrespect to my God-given assets, which are quite modest, but they can make a lot out of not so much. It’s hilarious. I’m walking around with what some woman would pay a lot of money to have done to her body. I’m all tan and blonde and look nothing like myself, so why not be half-naked with my boobies around my chin?”Finding Love on the Set
“My sexuality is something I’m completely comfortable with and open about.” Between the sexy wardrobe and the on-screen chemistry with her costars, Paquin wasn’t shocked when she found love behind the scenes with her True Blood costar, Stephen Moyer. Dating long before the pilot aired, Paquin and Moyer kept their relationship quiet at first and even hid the news from everyone on the show. “I’m not sure why people are shocked when actors end up with each other. They do chemistry reads between actors to make sure they’re going to play out well opposite each other,” Paquin said. Still, the news shocked costars and friends like Rutina Wesley who played Tara Thornton. “We didn’t know it was going on until it was out in the open,” Wesley admitted. “But then I was like, ‘A-ha! It all makes sense now…’ It’s adorable to see them steal away for a minute on the set or just gaze into each other’s eyes.”
With their costars and the rest of the world finally in on the secret, fans couldn’t help but wonder how Paquin’s steamy scenes with Alexander Skarsgard actually went on the set with her boyfriend and future husband watching. “We feel completely comfortable together,” she said. “Steve and Alex are buddies. It’s nothing like, ‘Oh, hi, nice to meet you. Now let’s take off our clothes and go into the fog.’ Everyone is very respectful of each other’s boundaries… They’re all very gentlemanly about it… We had read the books and we knew what we were getting into.”
Those gentlemanly qualities were tested even further in 2014 when the show’s seventh and final season opened with a steamy scene between Paquin and Joe Manganiello, which Moyer directed. “There are moments where I’ll be watching on a monitor and say, ‘Oh, Joe, just move your hand up towards Anna’s breast. Good. And can you move your right thumb just a little bit…? Great,’” Moyer said of directing his wife and costar. “And then I’ll go, ‘Babe, babe, enjoy it.’ I’m certainly talking to her as ‘babe.’ ‘Darling, go for it.’” Paquin argues that it’s not as awkward as everyone imagines and, after seven years, she and Moyer seem to have it figured out. “If you were to picture the perfect day at work for your spouse, would that be it? Probably not, but this is just kind of how it’s always been. So, it doesn’t feel as bizarre,” she says.
All awkwardness aside, Paquin and Moyer married on August 21, 2010, at a private residence in Malibu, California with his children, son Billy (2000) and daughter Lilac (2002), in attendance. After settling down in Venice, Los Angeles, they welcomed fraternal twins Charlie and Poppy into the world in September 2012. As a wife and mother, Paquin has welcomed the chance to settle down with Moyer in a routine that is vastly different from her own vagabond childhood. “I was really craving a bit of consistency,” the actress said. “I love being married. We’re super-geeks who will happily spend an entire hour online looking for the perfect lamp… but Steve won’t watch any horror movies with me. He finds them scary. He plays a vampire and I’m like, ‘Babe, what did you do at work today?’”The End of an Era and Future Projects
“None of the characters I’ve played are really like me. That would be boring. That wouldn’t be acting.” Paquin wrapped up True Blood in 2014 and quickly bounced back on the silver screen as she reprised her role as Rogue in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Although most of her scenes were cut for the theatrical release, an alternative version of the film was released as The Rogue Cut in July 2015. She then lent her voice to Ramsey in Disney-Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur and played a Confederate soldier’s wife in the 2016 miniseries, Roots. The following year, she starred in eight episodes of Bellevue, five episodes of Alias Grace, and made an appearance in an episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. After a brief hiatus from film, Paquin made a huge comeback in 2018 with credits in Furlough and Tell it to the Bees with her next credit coming in 2019 as Peggy Sheeran in The Irishman. So, what else does her future hold?
The 36-year-old actress is quick to embrace her good fortune as an award-winning television, film, and theater actress. “I get paid to do the thing I love most, and maybe that makes blending into the crowd impossible sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” she says. “I just do what feels right I think the great thing about getting to do what I do is that you can try out being a different person without having to screw up your life to do it.” With that said, we certainly see a bright future for Paquin as she takes on more and more challenging roles and proves her versatility and talents as one of Hollywood’s finest leading ladies!