WCW: Anna Paquin


Yesterday was Anna Paquin’s birthday! She got her start in historical costume movies with an amazing turn at age 11 in The Piano, and she’s gone in and out of our genre since then. Let’s take a spin through Paquin’s oeuvre, shall we? Because it’s always fun to say “oeuvre”!


The Piano (1993)

Paquin won the Oscar for her performance as the child of a mute woman who goes to New Zealand for an arranged marriage, and it was a well-deserved win. It’s hard to decide who is more mesmerizing, Holly Hunter or Paquin!

The Piano (1993)


Jane Eyre (1996)

As the young Jane in the Charlotte Gainsbourg/William Hurt version.

1996 Jane Eyre 1996 Jane Eyre


Amistad (1997)

She’s only a bit part in this story of a slave revolt in early America, but her turn as Queen Isabella II of Spain is great for showing how plain bizarre it is to have a child making important state decisions.

1997 Amistad 1997 Amistad


A Walk on the Moon (1999)

Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen have a lot of sex in the 1960s; Paquin play’s Lane’s daughter.

1999 A Walk on the Moon


Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)

She’s the wife of a Native American doctor in this not-perfect but interesting look at the Wounded Knee massacre.

1999 A Walk on the Moon 1999 A Walk on the Moon


The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2009)

Paquin played Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who smuggled approximately 2,500 Jewish children to safety during World War II, in this TV movie.

2009 The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler


Roots (2016)

She starts off as the consummate Southern belle, but it turns out she has some Opinions about slavery in the rebooted Roots.

Roots (2016) Roots (2016) Roots (2016)


Alias Grace (2017)

She’s a Canadian woman caught in a weird place — officially the housekeeper, in reality the mistress of her master. Things don’t go well…

Alias Grace (2017) Alias Grace (2017)


Coming Soon

Tell It to the Bees

With Holliday Grainger in this 1950s British drama.

2018 Tell It to the Bees


What’s your favorite Anna Paquin role? (No, True Blood doesn’t count…)

16 Responses

  1. Daniel Milford-Cottam

    I love Anna Paquin in everything I’ve ever seen her in, I think she’s a real talent.

    But I was distracted by something else…. The Amistad doll, namely. Having something of an interest in antique dolls alongside my interest in dress, I never cease to be amazed at the absolute abortions that films think are suitable dolls for their eras. I haven’t the faintest clue what period or reference the Amistad doll is supposed to come from, other than some sort of 2000-era Ye Oldesy-Woldesy-Tymes Por(n)celain travesty.

    I know and love your thoughts on portraits that look all wrong for the era. And I’m sure that 90% of all period films screw it up when it comes to sourcing appropriate looking children’s dolls for the period too. It’s hilarious how many times you’ll see some dollarstore Marie Osmond object with delusions of accuracy in an otherwise pretty nigh spot on movie….

    • Marcela (Pretty Little Costumier)

      I love Anna Paquin too, but if you guys don’t mind I’m gonna go completely off-topic here.

      Daniel, I hope you don’t mind, but my curiosity took the best of me… t’s funny you should mention dolls. I am both an historian and a doll collector, but my collection is of modern dolls (1980’s-present, mostly) which are inspired by history and fantasy. I always tried to find more source material on actual period toys so that I could know more about them, but everytime I expressed my interest in something like that my college teachers would give me the weirdest looks. Collectors of modern dolls are none the wiser about it. They usually don’t know and don’t care much for history in general, even toy history.

      I know a little (very little) about dolls that were used as mannequins to showcase the newest fashions (having read Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion), but other than that I have no idea where to begin looking for information on that. If you don’t mind, could you please point me in the way of some reliable sources so that I can learn more about that? I’d really love to learn all I can about Medieval and Early Modern toys (especially dolls) please.

      Again, I’m sorry if I’m being inconvenient. I don’t usually barge in and bother people in comments, and I don’t want to bother anyone.

      • Christy

        A good place to start are the books by Dorothy & Evelyn Coleman. The Colkector’s Book of Doll Clothes & The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dolls, Vol. 1& 2. Pricey, but worth it.

        • Daniel Milford-Cottam

          Seconded with Coleman. The trouble with doll scholarship is that it’s taken even less seriously than fashion, so a lot of general reference books tend towards the burble-burble-lookitsopretties style. The Coleman encyclopaedias are good, and books by Jan Foulkes are also excellent. My first reference book was Dolls & Doll’s Houses by Constance Eileen King who I think did a decent job and still stands up, 30 years later, as a decent overview and introduction to the world of dolls.

          • Marcela (Pretty Little Costumier)

            Thank you so much! I’ll look for Dolls & Doll’s Houses as well!

            Yes, it’s not taken seriously at all. On one hand, it’s hard to escape the “I don’t care if it’s accurate as long as it’s pretty” trope, and on the other hand it’s something the academy is skeptical about at best. I hope someday that might change.

    • Christy

      Yes! As a doll collector that makes me yell at the screen even more than costumes & hair.

    • Susan Eiffert

      Hey Daniel, do forgive me if I’ve mentioned this before, but I had a great uncle with the name of Daniel Milford whom I never met and who was born about 1895. My grandfather John Milford and his siblings Davy, Lizzie, William and Emily were from Belfast NI and John emigrated to the US about 1920. I have cousins still in NI and Surrey. I wonder could we also be related?

      • Daniel Milford-Cottam

        Hi Susan! I remember this. Although my grandfather on the Milford-Cottam side of the family was born in Dublin, I don’t think we’ve got much Irish from that side. The Milford in my ancestry is actually Welsh, as in Milford Haven. So it’s probably unlikely that we’re connected, but who knows?

  2. Susan Pola Staples

    I, also, love Anna Paquin. But I have always wondered if she was a relative of the designer, Jeanne Paquin?
    My favourite role is The Piano. My favourite ‘modern’ is Rogue in the X-men movies. Although she was amazeballs as Sookie.
    I’m really looking forward to seeing Tell It to The Bees with Holliday Grainger, whom I adore, worship and simply love everything she’s done (Bonnie and Clyde don’t count).

    • Karen K.

      Holliday Granger was also excellent in the Cormoran Strike crime series adaptation. It’s definitely worth watching if you like British detective series.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        I’m hoping the series is aired on PBS or is released on DVD. Or even Amazon Prime Britbox or Acorn.

  3. Karen K.

    I was a huge fan of True Blood the first few years and so I will never not see Anna Paquin as anyone but Sookie Stackhouse. I honestly can’t remember a single one of her historical roles other than The Piano, though I’ve been meaning to watch Alias Grace. Would definitely watch Tell it to the Bees, though!

    • Narmowen

      I’ll always see her as Rogue, no matter who she is because of her role in Xmen…

  4. nkkingston

    I didn’t know they were adapting Tell it to the Bees! I used to attend a dance class with the author (as you do!) and I’ve got a signed copy. It’s a fabulous book.