Anna Helene Paquin (born July 24, 1982) is a Canadian-born New Zealand actress. Paquin's first critically successful film was The Piano, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1994 at the age of 11 – the second youngest winner in history. Her acting career took off almost half a decade later when she appeared in a string of successful films including She's All That, Almost Famous and the X-Men franchise.
Paquin has received critical acclaim for her role as Sookie Stackhouse in the HBO series True Blood, for which she won the 2008 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama.
Paquin was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the daughter of Mary Paquin (née Brophy), an English teacher and native of Wellington, New Zealand, and Brian Paquin, a high school physical education teacher. Paquin is the youngest of three children; she has two older siblings: a brother, Andrew, a director, born in 1977, and a sister, Katya, born in 1980, who is the partner of Green party co-leader Russel Norman. Paquin's family moved to New Zealand when she was four. She attended the Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School until she was eight or nine. Her musical childhood hobbies in New Zealand included playing the viola, cello and piano. She also participated in gymnastics, ballet, swimming and downhill skiing, though she did not have any hobbies related to acting.
While in New Zealand, Paquin attended Hutt Intermediate School from 1994–95. Having begun her secondary education in Wellington at Wellington East Girls' College, she completed her high school diploma at Windward School in Los Angeles, where she moved with her mother following her parents' divorce in 1995. She graduated from Windward School in June 2000 and completed the school's community service requirement by working in an LA soup kitchen and at a special education center. She studied at Columbia University for one year, but has since been on a leave of absence to continue her acting career.
It was in New Zealand in 1991 that Paquin became an actress by chance. Director Jane Campion was looking for a little girl to play a key role in The Piano, set to film in New Zealand, and a newspaper advertisement was run announcing an open audition. Paquin's sister read the ad and went to try out with a friend; Paquin herself tagged along because she had nothing better to do. When Campion met Paquin—whose only acting experience had been as a skunk in a school play—she was very impressed with the nine-year-old's performance of the monologue about Flora's father, and she was chosen from among the 5000 candidates.
When The Piano was released in 1993 it was lauded by critics, won prizes at a number of film festivals, and eventually became a popular movie among a wide audience. Paquin's debut performance in the film earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the age of eleven, making her the second-youngest Oscar winner in history after Tatum O'Neal. The Piano was made as a small independent movie and wasn't expected to be widely known, and Paquin and her family did not plan to continue in the acting circles. However, she was invited to the William Morris Agency, and she kept receiving offers for new roles. She systematically refused them, but she did appear in three commercials for the phone company MCI (now Verizon) in 1994. She later made a series of television commercials for Manitoba Telecom Systems in her birth city of Winnipeg. She also appeared as a voice in an audio book entitled The Magnificent Nose in 1994.
In 1996, she appeared in two movies. The first role was as young Jane in Jane Eyre. The other was a lead part in Fly Away Home playing a young girl who, after her mother dies, moves in with her father and finds solace in taking care of orphaned goslings.
As a teenager, she had roles in films including A Walk on the Moon, Amistad, Hurlyburly, She's All That and Almost Famous.
X-Men and beyond
Paquin returned to worldwide prominence with her role as the mutant superheroine Rogue in the Marvel Comics movie X-Men in 2000, its sequel X2 in 2003, and its third installment, X-Men: The Last Stand, in 2006.
In the fall of 2006, she completed filming Blue State. She was the executive-producer of the film, the film having been made by Paquin Films, a production company formed by both her and her brother, Andrew Paquin. In November 2006, she completed the film Margaret, which was released in 2011.
In 2007, Paquin received an Emmy Award nomination for Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie for her role as Elaine Goodale in HBO's made-for-TV movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, based on Dee Brown's bestseller. She also received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations in similar categories.
In 2008, Paquin appeared as waitress Sookie Stackhouse in the HBO series True Blood, her first role in a TV series. The show is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, set in the fictional town of Bon Temps, LA. Paquin won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Drama Series for her role in the show, and also won a Satellite Award in a similar category. She was also nominated for the same category in the 2009 Golden Globe Awards. The second season of True Blood premiered in the US in June 2009. Season three premiered in June 2010, and season 4 in June 2011.
In 2009, Paquin played Irena Sendler, a Polish woman hailed as a heroine of the Holocaust, in The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, a CBS TV film biopic based on the book Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Irena Sendler Story, by Anna Mieszkowska. The film was made in Latvia, and was a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation for the network. Paquin's performance earned her a 2010 nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Film.
Paquin's film The Romantics, a romantic comedy with Josh Duhamel and Katie Holmes, was released in the US at selected theaters in September 2010.
Paquin was cast in a cameo role in Scream 4, which was released in 2011.
Her next film is Straight A's, co-starring Ryan Phillippe, due for release in 2012.
Paquin made her stage debut in 2001 in a production of The Glory of Living at the MCC Theater. She won a 2001–2002 Theatre World Award for her performance. She has since appeared in a number of other plays, but only once outside the USA, when she appeared on the West End stage in London in a production of This is Our Youth in 2002.
On August 5, 2009, it was announced that Paquin was engaged to her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, whom she had been dating since filming the series pilot in 2007. On August 21, 2010, Paquin and Moyer married at a private residence in Malibu, California. Through her marriage to Moyer, Paquin has a step-son, Billy, born in 2000, and a step-daughter, Lilac, born in 2002. Paquin and Moyer reside in Venice, Los Angeles.
On April 1, 2010, Paquin came out as bisexual in a public service announcement for the Give a Damn campaign as part of the True Colors Fund, an advocacy group organized by Cyndi Lauper dedicated to LGBT equality.