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Anna Paquin Rogue Leader

Patrick Carone

Anna Paquin is not like other teenage actresses you might see prancing around the WB or half naked on the cover of Maxim. This young woman has class, taste and—oh yeah—an Oscar. After winning an Academy Award at the age of 11 for her role in The Piano, she went on to appear in movies ranging from Jane Eyre and Amistad to She's All That and Almost Famous. She starred in Spike Lee's 25th Hour this past Christmas, and now she's reprising her role as the mutant Rogue in X-Men 2. As part of our onslaught of X-coverage (see our interviews with costars Shawn Ashmore and Kelly Hu in the A&F Quarterly), Anna spoke with Patrick Carone upon returning from a trip to her native New Zealand.

You were just on a 20-hour flight from New Zealand. Did they at least show some movies on the plane? Yeah, they showed, like, five different movies on the screen on the back of the other person's seat.

Have you ever been on a plane where they played a movie you were in? No, I have not. I have looked at the little booklet thingy and seen that one is playing, just not on my flight—which was really pleasant, because I think that would be kinda weird. Like if I had to get up to go to the bathroom and I had to walk past the movie screen—that could be strange.

Or you are drifting off to sleep and all the sudden you see yourself on the screen. Yeah, I would avert my eyes.

You don't like to watch the movies you are in? I have seen everything once, just to be able to talk about it kinda thing—to see what actually ended up in the movie. If people are going to be talking about it, I need to know what they are talking about. But if I could maybe get away with never seeing them ever, I think that would probably be what I would do.

I was reading somewhere that you've never seen The Piano in its entirety—is that true? Yeah, well, I mean there is not really a context in which I am going to go into Blockbuster and say, "Hey, I want to rent my movie," you know? I never saw it at the time, so I guess maybe I am going to have to wait until I am old and nostalgic or something, and I will think it is just funny that I was ever so young once and not be freaked out that it's me.

I have to confess, I've never seen The Piano either. Excellent! You are the first person I have ever talked to that is not like, "Oh my God, how could you not have seen it?" I am not really worried about that. I've never really considered it a bad thing when someone admits they have never seen my movie, because I am like, "Great, now I don't have to talk about it, do I?"

Let's talk instead about how you got involved with Spike Lee and 25th Hour. I was in London doing a play, I came home, X-Men 2 was starting in a month, and I was just taking a break, taking it easy, blah blah blah. Then two days later my agent calls me and is like, "Can you come in and read for Spike Lee this Saturday?" I was like, "Oh, hell yeah!" My vacation just went out the window, but that's just completely acceptable. You know, there are certain filmmakers—like Spike Lee—who immediately come to mind when people ask who's on your wish list of people you would love to work with. It was just really great to be working for someone who you completely and utterly trust, who you don't have to be worrying about anything other than your job and doing the best that you can do and wanting to do the best for them, because you have that much respect for what they do.

How was doing Kenneth Lonergan's play This Is Our Youth in London? I really, really like theater now. I am a young-kid kinda person, so I love having something to do all the time. I was doing my play in New York, and I was like, "Oh, I love theater, I don't ever not want to do theater." I needed to do another play, and this one came along in London.

And in that play you starred opposite Hayden Christensen and Jake Gyllenhaal—two pretty cool fellas. Yeah, I am a lucky girl. I have gotten to work with some really amazing people. It's great when you go to work every day and you completely respect all the people you are working with.

And in X-Men you certainly get to work with some amazing people: Sir Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry.... And this was No. 2, so everyone knew each other much better this time. It's probably the only time you get that sort of familiarity thing, except when you are doing a TV series.

A TV series, like The Anna Paquin Show? I can totally see it—a sitcom where you work in a pizza place and hijinks ensue. But I am not funny in that "funny ha ha" sort of way. I am more like, "Oh, look at that girl fall over. Isn't she an idiot." I would be more a candidate for Jackass than a sitcom. They wouldn't have to set up the stunts; I would just accidentally walk into stupid-looking things over and over again.

How is it playing Rogue, in terms of relating her to yourself? Rogue's power prevents her from touching anyone or being close to anyone ever—she drains people's life force to the extent that they die or just get really sick. It's a very lonely thing, which I think at least in the first movie was age appropriate, because I was 17 and at the end of adolescence. There is this thing with Rogue where she has had to overcome this terminal loneliness, and I think a lot of people can relate to that, especially teenagers.

Something cool about X-Men and certain other superhero movies is the idea that even though these people are superheroes, they are still people with real emotions. Yeah, and that a lot of their superpowers magnify the regular problems people have. I think X-Men is especially like that, thematically at least. It's just magnifying regular human circumstances for the sake of drama. Excitement makes them superheroes.

A&F Quarterly, Spring 2003