Anna Paquin arrives at Gjelina’s, her favourite LA restaurant, on a pale pink pushbike, asks for her usual lemonade, smiles and starts to chatter. Not nervous, over-your-head chatter, but wry, offbeat, barbed wit.
The actress, who for many will for ever be the elemental child Flora in Jane Campion’s 1993 film The Piano, is laughing about the superhero doll made after her. ‘There’s a Rogue [her character in X-Men] action figure at Toys ’R’ Us! You have to get a kick out of that. I’m nonbiodegradable.’
Chattiness ‘is what people least expect of me, I know,’ says Anna. ‘At one point, in my early 20s, I was so shy that people were surprised I actually spoke.’ Since winning an Oscar at only 11 for The Piano, Anna, now 26, has had a consistent and acclaimed career – from Zeffirelli’s Jane Eyre, via Almost Famous, to Spike Lee’s 25th Hour, The Squid and the Whale, and as Rogue (the superheroine whose kiss kills) in the X-Men franchise – but has avoided the public eye. She rarely gives interviews and even more rarely talks about her private life. Her reputation is, she confesses, ‘Being incredibly serious about my work.’
Her head-down, work-hard approach has paid off with industry respect, no tabloid tittle-tattle and a recent Best Actress win at the Golden Globes for True Blood, the steamy vampire comedy-drama TV series that is now airing on the FX channel and will be shown on Channel 4 in October.
Since it first screened in the US last autumn, the show has become HBO’s third highest-rated series after The Sopranos and Sex and the City, and Anna is now constantly recognised and papped.
The drama, based on the cult Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, features Anna in the lead role of Sookie, a Southern barmaid who can hear people’s thoughts in a world where vampires have ‘come out of the coffin’. Sookie (for whom Anna has gone blond) even has dress-alike disciples among teens and 20-somethings across the US, all denim micro-shorts and clinging white T-shirts.
For Anna, the show works, ‘Because it’s a perfect marriage of something creatively challenging and potentially mainstream. And that’s rare. It’s a really bold show; odd, dark, twisted and funny.’
The character appeals to Anna’s ‘serious actress’ side because she’s a ‘kick-ass female action lead’, she says. ‘Usually [in dramas] things happen to the girl and around the girl and here she’s right in the centre of it and does a good job holding her own. She’s a very complex and beautifully structured character. How many actresses get to say that?’
True Blood taps into the current vogue for vampires instigated by the hit film Twilight. Anna feels it reflects the need for a secular society to believe in something ‘other’, although the bottom line, she admits, is that a vampire storyline has a ‘dark, dangerous, brooding sexuality’ to it.
Sexual chemistry is arguably what has made True Blood such a success. Anna’s Sookie falls for Bill Compton, a vampire whose thoughts she cannot read, played by British actor Stephen Moyer (Ny-Lon, Lilies, Quills). While filming the first series, Anna and Stephen developed a real-life relationship, which they tried to keep quiet. When they eventually went public it was, says Anna, ‘the worst kept secret on the planet’.
These days they are often snapped by tabloids doing entirely low-key couple things such as shopping at Whole Foods and swinging on the monkey rings in Santa Monica. They appear very together, very much in love. Anna is also a firm fixture in the lives of Steve’s two children, Billy, nine, and Lilac, seven.
Read the complete interview on dailymail.co.uk.