Photo courtesy of (Paquin) Jason Bell/Camera Press

Photo courtesy of (Paquin) Jason Bell/Camera Press

Anna Paquin: More than meets the eye

By Gina Piccalo For Emmy.

Issue No. 3, 2009

Anna Paquin admits to a moment of serious doubt when she first caught a glimpse of herself in character, as the curvaceous and telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse of HBO’s sexy vampire series, True Blood.

She trained those nervous brown eyes on her long blonde hair, the snug-fitting T-shirt and the abundant décolleté. When she got to her bare legs in short-shorts, the actress recalls, “I kind of freaked out and thought, ‘Oh, my God. That is a lot of really white leg.’”

As Sookie, Paquin is smoldering vampire bait, for sure. She’s doused with buckets of blood and has honed a Janet Leigh–caliber terror scream. But Paquin also brings a restless complexity to the character and a tender naiveté to Sookie’s love affair with the beefcake undead played by Stephen Moyer. So it’s not surprising the role earned Paquin a Golden Globe. In fact, it may have upended the twenty-six-year-old actress’s dark and brooding indie girl image once and for all.

“What I love so much about Sookie,” says Paquin, her accent a mix of Canadian, New Zealander and straight-up L.A., “is she’s not what she looks like on the surface. She has this kind of innocent, sexy, possibly stupid girl-next-door look about her. But she’s so much more than that.”

Indeed, Paquin herself has consistently surprised audiences, proving to be a more enduring and multifaceted actress than anyone could have guessed fifteen years ago. At age nine, she bested 6,000 girls for the part of Flora in Jane Campion’s feature The Piano. It was her first film role and she earned an Oscar for it. Since then, Paquin has repeatedly disproved all those terrible notions about child actors, giving one great performance after another.

“It’s kind of almost easier,” Paquin says of her childhood Oscar win. “There isn’t any other option than to proceed with the really good hand you got dealt. That’s how I happened to get my start. It’s just my life.”

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