Anna Paquin Interview – True Blood
LOS ANGELES – When you’re looking after your 20-month-old twin boys, you can be forgiven for feeling stressed. That’s especially true if you’re Anna Paquin and one of the stars of a TRUE BLOOD, the hit TV-series that is finally winding down this year after seven glorious seasons of fanged mayhem. But the 31-year-old actress admits that having the father – husband and series co-star Stephen Moyer – around on set does help ease the strain.
“I’m still working 15-hour days, it’s not as if the writers have been giving me time off just because I have twin babies to look after,” Paquin laughs. “But at least I get to work with my husband so he can help me with the boys when I’m exhausted or have a lot of scenes. I also know that when we wrap up the series (later this summer) I’m going to very sad and I’m going to miss the hectic pace and all the friends I’ve made on the show over the years.”
Interestingly, the first episode of Season 7 aired in the U.S. last month and aroused some curiosity over the fact that Moyer directed the episode which features, amongst other things, a very intense nude sex scene between Paquin and series heartthrob Alexander Skarsgard (Eric). “It’s nothing I really think about anymore – (my character) has had sex with several of my co-stars,” Paquin was quoted as saying later.
Of course, Paquin will be spending a lot more time at home with her real-life lover and husband Moyer, 44, whom she fell in love with shortly after beginning work together on the highly-acclaimed show. Apart from True Blood, they also collaborated on the low-budget indie film, Free Ride, which starred Paquin and which Moyer produced and helped finance.
Born in Canada and raised in New Zealand, Anna Paquin first soared to fame when she earned an Oscar at age 11 for her striking work in Jane Campion’s The Piano (1993). Later roles in films like Amistad, A Walk on the Moon, Almost Famous, and, of course, the X-Men films in which she plays Marie/Rogue. She then landed the role of Sookie Stackhouse in True Blood and has subsequently become an iconic figure to millions of viewers around the world who have followed the vampire the HBO series first aired in 2008. The rapper Snoop Dogg even dedicated a video to her character, entitled, “Oh Sookie,” which went viral upon its release in 2010
Paquin and Moyer were married in 2010 after a three-year romance and she gave birth to fraternal twins Charlie and Poppy in September 2012. (Moyer is also a father to two kids, Lilac, 12, and Billy, 14, from previous relationships.)
Q: Anna, is it hard to get used to the idea that True Blood is about to end?
PAQUIN: It’s been tough shooting the final season when you’re so aware that on certain days this might be the last time you get to do a scene with some of your co-stars. But we’re all going through those kind of withdrawal pains. We’ve had a very successful run and we’re all grateful to have been part of this show and become a very close family. That kind of closeness has also enabled us to go a lot further dramatically and play scenes with more intensity than probably would have been possible if we hadn’t all become close friends.
Q: Does that also apply to the sex scenes?
PAQUIN: We all knew from having read the books what to expect. No one was surprised by having to do the sex scenes or the nudity and after you’ve been working together for a while those scenes become much easier to do. You don’t spend any amount of time worrying about them anymore and that alone enables you to relax and play those moments more naturally and without feeling overly self-conscious.
Q: You also gained a husband in the process?
PAQUIN: (Laughs) Yes. That’s been something I didn’t expect although it’s pretty normal to fall in love with someone you work with. It happens in the workplace in offices and it’s no different when you’re working very closely with people on a film or TV set. It’s very natural.
Q: Is the nudity ever an issue for you?
PAQUIN: You’re never completely comfortable with it but I think it becomes easier once you’ve become accustomed to exposing yourself that way. It’s easier for women because we’re used to doing so many scenes in films where for no particularly good reason you’re expected to take your clothes off. In this kind of a series where sex is a major element the nudity is simply a function of that and you get on with it.
Over the years I keep getting asked about (nudity) and it’s almost as if people feel that I should be embarrassed about it. I’ve never felt that it’s anything but part of what you’re expressing as a character and sex is a big component of life.
Q: Is it easier to do a sex scene with your husband Stephen Moyer?
PAQUIN: (Smiles) It’s easier in the sense that you’re not worried about touching a person in a way that would make that person feel uncomfortable, not that that’s usually the case, anyway. But there’s a greater level of comfort when you’re doing those scenes with your husband than with someone you’ve just met that day on the set.
Q: How have you dealt with the pace of working on a TV series last few seasons while you’ve been raising your twin boys?
PAQUIN: The first year you really don’t get to sleep that much and that’s especially true when you’re shooting a series at the same time. But Stephen is a very good father and he’s always been there to help me and so I haven’t found things to be that stressful although there are days when you just want to sleep an extra few hours.
What keeps you going is your love for the work you’re doing and the awareness that these opportunities don’t come around that often. You are simply very happy to be doing interesting work and you cherish your time doing what you love.
Q: What is your take on Sookie and her incredible appeal to fans of the show?
PAQUIN: She was so different from anyone I had ever played before. Over the course of the series she’s evolved so much and become a lot stronger and more aware. It’s been an interesting transformation and you can feel her becoming a more powerful and commanding presence. Her story arc was also about a powerful sexual awakening process and that obviously has had a lot of resonance with people. The writers have also given her the kinds of added layers that have made it easier for me to throw myself into her and experience the way she’s taken charge of her life.
Q: Is vampire sex better than normal sex?
PAQUIN: It’s more intense. If you think about it, when you’re so desperate to show your attraction or desire for another person that you are sucking each other’s blood – it takes things to another level. That’s part of what makes people so curious about the characters on the show. You’re engaging in a kind of heightened reality and sex is one of the most intense experiences you can have. Sookie is also experiencing sensations that normal people don’t get to have and that’s another aspect to her appeal.
Q: Did you expect to be working on this series for seven years?
PAQUIN: I was ready to do that and make that commitment. I take my work very seriously and I’ve been that way all my life. I prided myself as a teenager that I was already taking my life seriously and leading a very responsible life when a lot of kids my age were more interesting in partying and doing wild things.
Q: Do you ever feel that you missed out on some aspects of growing up since your career started so early?
PAQUIN: I didn’t have the usual kind of adolescence and that’s why sometimes think I’m still a lot younger than I actually am. I never allowed myself to be frivolous when I was trying to build my career although I think I gave myself more freedom to have fun in my twenties. I also know, though, that I’ve been able to get to enjoy my life’s work at a much earlier age than most people. Maybe I didn’t have an ordinary kind of upbringing, but I feel like I’ve been able to live a very interesting life.
Q: You won an Oscar at age 11. Does that time seem an eternity ago?
PAQUIN: It took me a while before I was able to appreciate everything that was going on around that time. When you’re that age you’re not able to assess what it means in terms of having a career or what kind of life you want to make for yourself. I was just a kid growing up in New Zealand who had this incredible opportunity and was then able to make the most of it. It still took me time before I knew what I wanted to do and the kind of career that interested me. I was mainly determined to find good roles and not worry about which roles might make me a big star. I never thought about things in those terms.
Q: What kind of impact do you think your X-Men films have had on your career?
PAQUIN: I’m not sure. They probably got me more exposure to a wider audience than I would have had otherwise, so I’m sure they’ve helped in that way. I mainly loved doing them because it’s such a different kind of world to be part of those big studio films. You learn a lot about the technical side of filmmaking and I also needed to train for several months before each time and that takes a lot of discipline and hard work. I kind of thrive on that. It also gave me the chance to learn how to do wirework and different kinds of physical stunts.
Q: You and your husband also worked on your first film together Free Ride. What was that experience like?
PAQUIN: We didn’t have a lot of money but it was a great story and we thought it was a great project for us to be part of. The shooting schedule was very compressed but having worked on a TV series I’ve become used to learning my lines quickly and being able to work quickly. I think Stephen was probably more stressed than I was because he had to look after the production. An actor’s job is a lot easier! (Laughs)