Since making her screen debut in 1993’s The Piano, for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Anna Paquin has always been one to watch. From playing Rogue in the X-Men film franchise to the award-winning Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and the iconic Sookie Stackhouse on HBO’s True Blood to Netflix’s adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel, Alias Grace, she’s made one interesting choice after another.
Now, 25 years after making a stammering-but-sweet acceptance speech at the 66th Academy Awards, Paquin is delivering a fiery performance on Pop TV’s Flack. It’s a workplace drama that takes the actress out of a world of “post-adolescence” characters and puts her squarely in the complicated headspace of “hard-working professional women,” says Paquin, who is now 36.
Premiering Thursday night, the limited series tells the story of a ruthless celebrity publicist, Robyn (Paquin), who is an expert at keeping her clients’ lives together despite being unable to stop her own from falling apart. “[Robyn exists in] shades of gray that aren’t necessarily completely clear or conventional, but there are things that matter to her very much,” the actress says. She’s one of TV’s rare female anti-heroes -- something audiences have only recently been treated to over the past few years -- let alone one played by Paquin, who previously portrayed a detective who blurred the lines of the law on WGN America’s short-lived Bellevue.
Even more rare for Paquin is the fact that the show is led by several female characters -- Oscar-nominated Sophie Okonedo as Caroline, Genevieve Angelson as Ruth, Lydia Wilson as Eve and Rebecca Benson as Melody -- all women in Robyn’s work and home life. And throughout the season, there are several scenes with only women on screen.
“Other than scenes that are two women, I can’t think of any project I’ve been on where there’s a whole ensemble of women that all got to share the screen at the same time,” Paquin says, reflecting on her past work. “Guys get that a lot on TV and it’s not really something that ends up happening in storytelling very often -- certainly not until recent years -- and honestly, I loved it. I really loved it.”
In addition to starring on Flack, Paquin also serves as executive producer -- one of her few times in the role following Bellevue and the 2007 film Blue State. On set, the actress said everyone was “very aware” of the rare opportunity all the women got to share in.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find any woman in my line of work who doesn’t understand without having to be told you’re getting to do something very special by being in such a female-rich environment,” Paquin says, adding: “No disrespect to the boys, sometimes it really nice as a woman to be surrounded by a lot of other really strong, talented, powerful women. It’s a really nice environment.”
While Robyn’s questionable ethics on the show -- from helping one client stay in the closet to sleeping with another -- would certainly make headlines in real life, it’s a far cry from Paquin’s life in Hollywood. Despite 25 years in the industry, she says she didn’t have any wild stories to contribute to the series, nor has her life been splashed across the front pages of tabloids. Instead, she says some of Flack’s wilder stories come from creator Oliver Lansley. “I don’t think I’ve had a particularly eventful career on the gossip front,” Paquin says. “I have eyes, I have ears and I’ve seen things. But those aren’t really the circles I gravitate towards.”
Also out of the spotlight is her marriage to Stephen Moyer, whom she met on the set of True Blood and later married. The two now have two kids and recently worked together as co-executive producers on Flack and Moyer’s directorial debut, The Parting Glass, in which Paquin stars alongside Melissa Leo, Cynthia Nixon and Denis O’Hare.
“We love and respect each other and value each other’s input and opinions, which I think is very important in any creative or business partnership,” Paquin says. “We don’t absolutely agree about everything all the time. But we’re grownups.”
Grownups with “really good taste,” Paquin concludes.