Anna Helene Paquin (born July 24, 1982) is a Canadian-born New Zealand actress. Her breakthrough performance was in the New Zealand film The Piano, which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1994, making her the second youngest winner in history at the age of 11. Paquin is best known for her role as Rogue in the X-Men movies and her role as Sookie Stackhouse in the HBO series True Blood.
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: brother Andrew, born in 1977, and sister Katya, born in 1980. Paquin 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 did 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 in 1994 and 1995, where she completed Form 1 and 2. Having begun her secondary education in Wellington, 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.
Acclaim as a child actress
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 intended to be widely known, and Paquin and her family didn't 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). 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, The Member of the Wedding, Amistad, Hurlyburly and She's All That.
Paquin is also an award-winning stage actress, having made her stage debut in 2001 in a production of The Glory of Living at the MCC Theater. She won a 2001-2002 Theater World Award for her performance. She has since appeared in a number of other plays, but has only once appeared in a play outside of the USA, when she appeared on the West End stage in London in a production of This is Our Youth in 2002.
She is dating her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer and has been with him since filming the series' pilot. On 5th August 2009, it was confirmed that the couple are engaged. Paquin lives in Venice, Los Angeles, California. Her hobbies include surfing and cycling.
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