All About Anna
by Christine Evans

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All About Anna







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Who is Anna Paquin?

What makes her the best child actress of her generation?

How popular is Anna Paquin in the film world and in Hollywood? Does she have any influence on other child actors?

Would she like to continue her career as an adult actress?

Who chooses her scripts?

Can I contact Anna?

Does she have an e-mail address?

Do you know anything about her family?

What is her favourite film?

What is Anna's opinion of media violence?

However, this opinion does not keep her from being an action-film fan, right? :)

My, did she really pierce her nose?

Why did she cut her hair?

Does she have a boyfriend?

Does she deserve an Academy Award?

What happened on Oscar night, 1993?

Where is her Oscar now?

Who is Flora, and what role does she play in The Piano?

How did she get the role in The Piano?

Were Jane Campion and Holly Hunter an important influence on Anna?

What are her opinions about the characters that she has played?

What was her involvement in the MCI commercials?

What is Paquingate?

Q: Who is Anna Paquin?
A: Anna Paquin is an Academy Award winning actress. She was born on July 24, 1982, and lives in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. She is the star of three major motion pictures, including her first Oscar winning performance in The Piano, the role of the young Jane in the 1996 film Jane Eyre, and the role of Amy Alden in this fall's charming family film, Fly Away Home. Her future projects include The Member of The Wedding (January, USA Network) and The Miracle of Pelham Bay Park (in pre-production). Paquin attends and all-girls school in Wellington, N.Z., and she enjoys being with friends, family, playing rugby, and playing the cello. With a well-developed vocabulary and gentle sense of humor, Paquin proves herself to be the most enchanting young talent working today. Paquin's rising stardom has often been a cause of charming media shyness, where it is obvious that she is an ordinary girl who happens to posses an extraordinary talent.

Q: What makes her the best child actress of her generation?
A: Anna Paquin is the best child actress of her generation - there is hardly any doubt to that. What makes her so appealing (among thousands of comments) is the fact that she hardly seems appealing. Both in her roles and as a public personality, Paquin has never stooped so low as to be the poster child for Cheese Whiz; she simply concentrates on acting and then goes home. On screen, Paquin is an arresting, riveting presence - from her lines, which are spoken with thought and feeling, to her silences, which are scene-stealing. From her quirky head tilts when she appears to be pleased with herself, to her furrowed, angry brows, from large, vulnerable, fawn eyes, to the scratchy abrasiveness that make her characters so human, Paquin's secret to acting is this: "I never think about acting - I just do it." Anna Paquin also has the maturity in her to chose scripts that are worthy of an Oscar - roles that have depth and feeling, and not just roles that come with a handsome price tag. On screen, Paquin displays a maturity that is almost frightening - so adult and developed - that it is a wonder how she knows so much and still be so very young.

Q: How popular is Anna Paquin in the film world and in Hollywood? Does she have any influence on other child actors?
A: In terms of popularity, Anna Paquin is not a shining icon compared to other films stars and even some other child film actors. She prefers for her personal family life to be kept private and generally is not in the eye of the camera when off-screen. As an actress on the planet of Hollywood, she is more or less something that directors can only think of - the chances of her wanting to be in their films are slim, as she wants to "put the acting thing on hold for as long as possible." So, in the terms of whether you can buy an Anna Paquin shirt, or mugs, or actions figures, or what have you - you can't. But in the press-conference rooms, and to directors and screenwriters, she is the answer to all of their child-acting problems. Because she can carry a role so well, they are instinctive in choosing her. Carroll Ballard, director of Fly Away Home, saw her in The Piano and said, "We've got to have her in our movie!" Many directors do this, but it's a matter of whether or not she likes the script that they plan to direct. As an influence on the movie world, Paquin is a quiet, underlying presence - she is not huge and commercial, and nor is she frightened of the camera altogether. Audiences notice her and remember the image, if not so much the name, fans always remember, and those with interests in film realize her talents and jot her down in their book of good actors. As an influence on other child actors, she hasn't done much except to be admired from afar by them. However, it is a known fact that people in Hollywood NEVER say who their favourite actors are unless those favourite ones happen to be dead, so we have never heard any comments about Paquin from her acting peers. Evidently, she hasn't influenced their choices of lyrical scripts yet - Paquin keeps choosing the worthy scripts, and most other child actors just keep forgetting what 'worthy' is.

Q: Would she like to continue her career as an adult actress?
A: Anna Paquin is not yet positive that she wants to grow up and continue in acting. Although she enjoys it, she is not sure that she will be able to make the transition from child actor to adult actor, as she is aware that it is a difficult step to take. She may want to study it in later life, but, she says, "Only if I need to. Right now I don't have time - I'm busy with school."

Q: Who chooses her scripts?
A: Anna Paquin has firmly stated that it is she herself that chooses her scripts. She has two agents, Gail Cowan in New Zealand, and the William Morris agency in L.A., but neither these nor her parents have much influence in deciding what she films. "In the end," she says, "it's my decision." Both her parents and her agents must have realized somewhere along the way that she has a good eye for a great script.

Q: Can I contact Anna?
A: Yes! It is actually possible to contact Anna Paquin! You can write either to her agency in New Zealand, or to the William Morris agency in Los Angeles.

In New Zealand:
Double Happy Agency
P.O. Box 9585
Wellington, New Zealand
c/o Gail Cowan

(There is no postal code required)

In Beverly Hills:
Anna Paquin
c/o William Morris Agency
151 El Camino Drive
Beverly Hills, CA

Unfortunately, like the shopping centre Santa Clause's, we can't promise you anything. Good luck to you, any how. :)

Q: Does she have an e-mail address?
A: Anna Paquin does not have an e-mail address that I am aware of. However,she is the subject of numerous homepages run by her talented admirers. These include The Unofficial Anna Paquin Homepage (:)) , Jellybeans' Unofficial Tribute to Anna Paquin,The Anna Paquin Page (Jason's. I forgot his address. Ooops), and is also on Magnus Hjelstuen's The Piano Page.

Q: Do you know anything about her family?
A: Anna Paquin is the youngest of three children in the Paquin family. She has a sister, Katya, two years older than herself, and a brother, Andrew, seven years older than herself. Paquin was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and her father, Brian Paquin (a phys. ed. instructor) is Canadian. Her mother, Marie Brophy (an English instructor) is from New Zealand. Paquin's parents separated while she was filming Fly Away Home in Canada, leaving her feeling(in Carol Ballard's words) "very sad at times." Paquin now lives with her mother in Wellington. She has a golden retriever dog named Jessie. Paquin also has numerous relatives in Winnipeg, Canada that she visits at Christmas.

Q: What is her favourite film?
A: Anna Paquin is not a film-buff herself, and she has a frankly nave taste in film probably derived from her own experiences in deeply psychological, sensitive roles. Paquin herself likes watching action films such as 1994's blockbuster/suspense thriller Speed and Die Hard with a Vengeance. She herself has only been allowed to watch an edited version of The Piano, where "someone holds their hands over my eyes in the bits that I shouldn't see" although she agrees that she has no particular interest in seeing those bits, any way. Never not intense enough to work in an experiential film herself, thrillers provide a sufficient getaway from her own arthouse acting.

Q: What is Anna's opinion of media violence?
A: Paquin feels that media violence is 'quite wrong, really.' She feels that violence on television - especially in programs for children - can be dangerously influential and that people can be hurt or killed as a result of copycat incidents. Very political of her, I might add.

Q: However, this opinion does not keep her from being an action-film fan, right? :)
A: Yes, she still enjoys action films. But it's not as if The Piano didn't have its bits of violence as well, so... :)

Q: My, did she really pierce her nose?
A: No, don't worry - Anna Paquin does not have an earring in her nose. Those scenes, by the by, in Fly Away Home were put together at the last minute, to accommodate an idea instigated by Paquin and followed through by Carroll Ballard. The nose ring is actually fake, but it was Paquin's attempt at being humorously rebellious, to see what the crew would say if she had pierced her nose mid-shoot. She found the fake ring in a 'neat junky jewelry store' in Toronto, and got it for free. To her disappointment, her attempt at being rebellious was well-received, as Ballard decided to use the nose-ring gag in the film as well. But she does not have a nose-ring permanently.

Q: Why did she cut her hair?
A: Besides accommodating her role in The Member of The Wedding, in which her character has hair 'cut like a convict' (as one of the other characters paraphrases), Paquin cut her hair for herself. She wanted a change, and hair seemed the one logical way to do it. How she managed to go through with lopping off those lovely locks, we will never know...

Q: Does she have a boyfriend?
A: No, for all of you who might have a possible interest in wooing Anna Paquin, she does not have a boyfriend. She attends an all-girls school now, and says that "It isn't likely that I'll have a boyfriend in the near future." She also says, "Boys make quite good friends - it's difficult to imagine doing something serious with them, such as dating."

Q: Does she deserve an Academy Award?
A: Anna Paquin was the surprise winner of the Academy-Award for her portrayal of Flora in Jane Campion's The Piano. Many people (especially those who lost the office ballot on that night) regard this win as a fluke, or a shock-factor that Oscar wanted to introduce just to let the world know that they weren't completely predictable (mostly everyone expected the Oscar to go to Winona Ryder that night, for her performancein The Age of Innocence). However, Paquin's feisty, dark and completely riveting performance in The Piano is solid proof that the then 11 year-old(9 when she made the film) was totally deserving of the Academy award. It is one of the most extraordinary examples of a child's acting in film history - her stern, impudent eyes and determined mien are things rarely seen by today's standards of smarmy child actors. With more lines than anyone else in the film, Paquin carries her role with both harshly jagged strokes and amazing grace, and incorporates both anger and vulnerability singularly. The Oscar in 1993 was one of the indications of her abilities.

Q: What happened on Oscar night, 1993?
A: On Oscar night, 1993, Anna Paquin was the surprise (and surprised) winner of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She stood, wide-eyed and gulping for breath at the microphone for a full twenty some odd seconds before delivering this gracious, rather breathless thank-you speech: "I'd like to thank The Academy, for the honor of letting me be here today. I'd like to thank Jane, Jan, and Holly for... making this all possible. And I'd like to thank Eddie Campbell, Pet Quirk, and, and Beanie, for taking such good care of me during the making of the film." Then she turned around and happily trotted back to her seat, while a confused Gene Hackman attempted to call her back. Backstage there was some consternation that the little girl who won the Oscar was not coming, but she arrived later to be pounced on by hundreds of reporters. Her still semi-shocked reply about winning the Oscar: "It's pretty cool." After attending the late night Oscar party, where she reportedly drifted off a number of times, including in the coat check, Paquin went back to her hotel room. The next day she took a side trip to an L.A. gallery for an exhibit of Picasso's paintings. Paquin returned home to New Zealand and went on a class camping trip.

Q: Where is her Oscar now?
A: Anna Paquin's Oscar trophy is currently hidden in her sock drawer, along with all of her other awards. She feels that an Oscar on display would 'make people ask me about it and that's the last thing that I want. It's kind of boring, really, and it's just a statue. It's not my personality, and I don't want to show it off.'

Q: Who is Flora, and what role does she play in The Piano?
A: Flora McGrath was the name of the character Anna Paquin played in The Piano. She was an energetic, although very grave, nine-year-old Scottish girl who went along with her mother to New Zealand. Although the role was supporting, Flora had more lines than anyone else in the film, as she acting as translater to her mute mother (Ada McGrath). Born out of wedlock and with a talent for story-telling, Flora was a bright, refreshing tone to The Piano, symbolizing both innocence and a quiet, underlying jealousy.

Q: How did she get the role in The Piano?
A: Paquin heard about the role of Flora in The Piano in a newspaper, in an open call audition. Her sister, Katya, and a friend of her sister's were interested, and since she "had nothing to do at the moment" she decided that she may as well go, too. When she stepped up to the camera, director Jane Campion was surprised. Paquin was the smallest and shyest of all the girls she had yet interviewed, and she didn't have the confidence that Paquin would have the intensity to pull it off. She was wrong. "I almost fell off my chair when she began." says Campion. "She told this long, incredible passionate story about how Ada lost her voice, and you totally believed her. It is rare to find someone so young with such an instinct for performance."

Q: Were Jane Campion and Holly Hunter an important influence on Anna?
A: Jane Campion and Holly Hunter were the beginning of Anna Paquin's career as an actress - they were the motivation, guidance, and examples that taught Paquin how to act on camera with practised ease. During the filming of The Piano, Paquin formed a fast bond with her adult co-star, Holly Hunter, who plays her mother in the film. Observing the relationship between the two, Jane Campion comments, 'They were an incredible team - Anna would copy all of Holly's mannerisms of performance.' Paquin claims that she liked Holly Hunter from 'the first day that I met her, because of the way that she was instructed by Jane not to talk on the set, so that I could get used to a mother who doesn't talk.' As the first director that Paquin worked with, Jane Campion was crucial in Paquin's development as an actress. Her guidance and artistic suggestions that were imprinted at an early age have proved lasting throughout her entire film career - there is still a little shadow of feisty Flora lurking behind all of her characters. From the thousands of directors and lead actresses that could have started Paquin on her acting career, it is extremely fortunate both for her, her audiences, and her future collaborators that Campion and Hunter acted as early coaches for a girl they say already has 'glorious instincts.'

Q: What are her opinions about the characters that she has played?
A: In the first place, Anna Paquin admires all of the characters that she has played - if she did not, she says, "I don't think that I would have agreed to film." She was able to connect to Flora's energetic, feisty, and rather vulnerable persona, although "[Flora] tells more lies than I do." On Jane Eyre, she comments, "She realizes that, if she doesn't stand up for herself, then nobody will." Paquin links the character of Amy Alden (Fly Away Home) to the orphaned geese, saying that "They both lost their mother. At the same time that she is learning how to be a mother to the geese, her father is learning how to be a father to her." She found the character of Frankie (The Member of The Wedding, airing in January on the USA Network) to be very different from the other characters that she has played - more angry and unsettled, but also more of an adventure to act. "The thing about her, " Paquin states "is that you sort-of have to understand her, you know, how she's feeling and stuff. But she gets to do a lot of pretty neat stuff, like... she throws knives and she smashes a soldier over the head with a glass pitcher. That's very different from most - well, from all - of the characters that I've played."

Q: What was her involvement in the MCI commercials?
A: Paquin made 8 MCI long distance/internet commercials after her Oscar win in 1993 - even before she accepting the offer for Jane Eyre. At the point that she was making the commercials, neither she nor her family wanted her to have a film career, but obviously... Although I myself have never seen an MCI commercial, Paquin dons an absurd hat and walks about outdoors - 'the young Picasso' - and sells long distance. The 'young Picasso' bit is said to be a trip.

Q: What is Paquingate?
A: Paquingate is the nickname given to the Paquin/Letterman so-called 'conspiracy.' David Letterman promised all of his guests on the show that night ten thousand dollars if they could shoot a basketball into the hoop. When Anna Paquin got the ball in, Letterman handed her the cash, but it was taken away from her after the show was over. This did not disturb Paquin, as she claims that everyone was told backstage that the money was a joke. However, when the press found out, they forced Letterman to pay up. The next evening, Paquin returned to the show, where she picked up a dozen roses and told Letterman that she would like the cash to be forwarded to The Wishing Star Foundation - an organization that helps children with disabilities. "That was good - I'm glad that the money went there" says Paquin.