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Paquin Explores Her Many Options After Golden Award

Current role diverges from her Oscar performance in The Piano

Lori Swingle
Daily Bruin Contributor

Every film actor dreams of winning an Oscar, often training and preparing for years before an Oscar-worthy role even comes around.

Imagine the shock, then, when Anna Paquin, at age 11, burst onto the Hollywood scene and won herself the coveted gold statue for her very first movie.

Her performance in The Piano was definitely superb, however, four years later she fails to grasp or care about the true meaning of her accomplishment.

Where does she keep her Oscar? "In a drawer," she claims. What? "It's not my personality. I don't want to show it off, and I don't want everyone seeing it, thinking I have to talk about it, because it's kind of boring," Paquin says.

It may be boring to Paquin, yet because of her success she is now starring in movies with top billings. Paquin's newest film, Fly Away Home, co-stars Jeff Daniels (Terms of Endearment, Dumb and Dumber) and opened earlier this month.

This is not to say that Paquin's talent isn't enough to keep the scripts coming, in fact she is clearly one of the most talented young actors around.

Paquin reveals herself to be mature yet innocent as she talks about herself and her career at the Four Seasons Hotel. Even with her new boyish haircut, she exudes the natural femininity and intellect that make her so appealing and believable on screen.

In her new film, she shares the starring role with a gaggle of orphaned geese. Her character, Amy Alden, hatches the eggs, and in turn the geese think she is their mother. "I wasn't the first living thing they actually saw," she says, "but I was one of the first. They were sort of imprinted on me."

Paquin's character then proceeds to lead the geese on a migration, flying a plane her eclectic, inventor father builds. The movie is charming, and Paquin succeeds in her role as a sort of orphan herself.

The film's suggestion that everyone, animals included, needs someone to look up to is well-taken, and despite the seemingly simplistic plot line, the film is engaging. Paquin seems to realize her marketability as an innocent child yet she strives to come across as more edgy off the set.

When talking with Paquin, it becomes clear that she suffers from the teen angst syndrome that so many people do at her age; she doesn't necessarily want to be thought of as just a cute little girl. She denies that her parents help her choose scripts ("I'm not really that influenced by what they say. It's totally my decision") and she claims to like "obscure groups, like the Beatles."

On the set of Fly Away Home, she tried to break out of her conservative role by attempting to convince the crew that she had pierced her nose halfway through the shoot. She recalls, "I was gonna see if I could scare somebody with it, so I went on the set one day, and Carroll (Ballard, the director) said, 'I like it. Let's use it.'" She almost seems disappointed that her attempt at rebellion was so well received.

When talking with Paquin, it becomes clear that she both loves acting and struggles with her celebrity status. She is guarded when talking about herself, seeming either annoyed or simply uninterested in sharing her personal life with the media (how sordid could it be?).

Between jobs, Paquin returns home to her native New Zealand. She claims that her fame isn't as much of a burden overseas, that her friends still see her as the pre-oscar Anna.

During her free time, Paquin opts to see movies such as Independence Day and Speed. Although she prefers seeing these to the more slow-moving films such as the ones she stars in, she doesn't hold out hope that she will ever be offered an action role ("There aren't many action movies for 14-year-old girls"). For now, she will continue to act in the movies that are worthy of her Oscar and try to make it through puberty.

Daily Bruin, September 23-27, 1996