The versatile actress talks about producing her first film, the road trip genre and upcoming projects
Anna Paquin has been in the public eye for practically her whole life. She won an Oscar at age 11 (the second-youngest winner ever), for The Piano, and she has delivered a string of impressive performances since then. Her latest film is Blue State, which marks her producing debut alongside her brother, Andrew. I had the chance to speak with Anna over the phone, and here's what she had to say.
I saw that your brother Andrew produced some of (writer-director) Marshall Lewy's shorts. Did he bring this project to you?
Anna Paquin: Marshall and Andrew went to college together. Andrew and I have been talking about wanting to produce a film together, and it was just the right timing.
This was the first movie that you produced yourself. What was that experience like?
Anna Paquin: I think it's a little intimidating, but it's also really fun because you get to pick who you want to work with. I really enjoyed it. I'd love to do it some more.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character Chloe and what you were drawn to by her?
Anna Paquin: She's strong, very independent, very sort of outspoken in her somewhat monosyllabic way, and doesn't take anyone's bullshit. She doesn't have time for people who are standing about their soapboxes, preaching about their beliefs and not really doing anything about it. I thought she was a very strong, interesting woman.
We see a lot of road trip movies, but we don't see a lot of political road trip movies.
Anna Paquin: Yeah, I know. It's like a road trip pilgramige movie (Laughs).
So what would you say the real essence of this movie is? The political part or the road trip part?
Anna Paquin: I think it's ultimately about the relationship that forms between the two main characters, Chloe and John. They obvioiusly have these different beliefs on those political topics. It's really just about these people that come from these two very different worlds, sort of finding a common ground and connecting with each other.
This was filmed in Winnipeg where you were born. Had you been back there a lot? I saw you moved to New Zealand when you were 4.
Anna Paquin: Half my family is from Canada, half of my family is from New Zealand so I've been back, not a great deal like for Christmases and stuff. But yeah, I've been back.
This was filmed on under a $1 million budget. What sort of differences are on a set like that compared to a set like, say, X-Men?
Anna Paquin: Well, I mean, obviously, when you're doing a massive studio film, you can build enormous sets and X-Men jets and all sorts of things, and blow things up if you want to. On smaller films, you're more constrained. I think what's really interesting about independent film, is that sometimes within those constraints, you end up finding more interesting ways to do it, because you don't have the option of wasting time or energy or money. You have to be more focused and more creative, and I personally really enjoy that. I've done a lot of independent films (Laughs). I haven't done that many huge films except for X-Men, X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand, so (independent film) is where I'm very comfortable.
What was Breckin Meyer like on the set? It seems like he'd be a big jokester.
Anna Paquin: He is awesome. He's so talented and so funny and he and I are such great friends. I mean now, we didn't know each other at all, beforehand, but it just really worked. We really clicked from the first time we met. He's hilarious. He can't help but be funny. It's almost intimidating. (Laughs)
You've played a multitude of different characters throughout the years. What sorts of characters are more fun for you to play?
Anna Paquin: Whatever is the exact opposite from what I last did (Laughs). So, if I've just done something like this, then something more serious. I just like to do something that I haven't done before.
I was thinking earlier that the one genre that you haven't done before was horror, but I see you have...
Anna Paquin Not true, not true (Laughs). My friend Mike Dougherty, who's one of the writers on X2: X-Men United, wrote and directed the film Trick or Treat that's coming out this year. It's sort of a horror thriller anthology, crazy, awesome, gory, funny thing. It's really hard to put it into one genre, but it definitely has elements of horror.
Is there anything you can tell us about Margaret as well? There's just an amazing cast in there.
Anna Paquin: Yeah. It was an incredible experience. I don't know when that one is coming out. I generally don't pay a lot of attention once it's completely done. It's like, 'OK, I did my part, and it'll come out or it won't.' I don't really like watching my work, so maybe that's why I'm not as worried about release dates.
You don't watch your work that much?
Anna Paquin: Well, I'll see it like once so I know what ended up in the film, so when I have to talk about it, I'm not talking about things that ended up on the cutting-room floor and nobody knows what I'm talking about. I don't really like sitting around and watching my films. It's kind of weird and narcisistic and creepy.
Now that you've produced this film, is there any interest in writing or directing or anything like that?
Anna Paquin: At some point, I definitely want to direct. I have to find the right piece of material. I don't know if I have any talent whatsoever as a writer (Laughs), but who knows, if I have anything really interesting that I want to say. Not at this exact moment, but maybe in the future.
Now that the strike is finally over, is there anything that you're looking at right now?
Anna Paquin: I was in the middle of shooting my new show for HBO, Alan Ball's show, True Blood. We shot three episodes, and we have another 10 to go, so that's what I'm doing as soon as production gets back up and running again.
Do you have any word on when that might start up again?
Anna Paquin: I think it's going to be in the next couple of weeks. As long as it takes to get everyone back and ready, so probably a couple of weeks.
Finally, if you weren't a famous actor, would you be the type of person to take a road trip like Chloe took?
Anna Paquin: If I wasn't an actor? (Laughs) Well, I'd kind of like to take a road trip regardless. It's not quite as easy to drop off the grid, when you'll have people calling you and asking you why you're not at work. So, I don't know. I think it'd be fun.
OK, well that's about all I have for you. Thanks a lot for your time, Anna.
Anna Paquin: OK, thank you. Bye.
Blue State is on the DVD shelves now.