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Whatever Happened To The Actress Who Played Sookie On True Blood?

Even before she became Sookie Stackhouse for HBO's southern gothic vampire series True Blood, Anna Paquin was already quite accomplished — only 11 years old when she won an Oscar for her work in The Piano, she still boasts the distinction of being the second-youngest actor to ever win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Starring in True Blood thrust Paquin into the TV spotlight as she headlined the hit series for all seven seasons and even earned a Golden Globe for her work in 2009. Since the show wrapped, however, her career profile has been a little more low-key than fans might be used to. Whatever happened to Anna Paquin after escaping all of the fangbangers, fairies, and werepanthers of Bon Temps? Here's a look at what she's been up to lately.

A complicated return to the small screen

After True Blood, Paquin took a couple of television guest roles, including the miniseries Roots and Electric Dreams, the British adaptation of the works of Philip K. Dick. It still took a few years, however, for her to return to the small screen in any regular capacity, and when she did it got a little complicated: Paquin took the lead in the Canadian series Bellevue, and while the show was well received by critics, it was still canceled by CBC. The show got something of a second wind in 2018 when it was picked up for American distribution by WGN America, it wasn't enough for a second season.

Paquin went on to star in Netflix's series adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel Alias Grace, but it didn't receive the same fanfare as another recent adaptation of the author's work — Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale and since it was also billed as a limited series, there are few hopes of a second season renewal. In other words, while Paquin has continued to pursue work on the medium that made her a household name (again), she hasn't yet enjoyed the type of breakout role she had with True Blood. She seems unbothered, telling Variety, "I have an endless appetite for new challenges. One of the great things about my job is that every few months you get to move on to the next thing."

Cut without her healing power

Prior to True Blood, Paquin was perhaps best known for her work as Rogue in the X-Men film series. She starred in the original trilogy, and was among the castmembers invited to come back to the rebooted franchise for 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Unfortunately, her scenes were ultimately edited from the film's theatrical version and only made it to screens by way of an expanded "Rogue Cut" assembled for home video. Director Bryan Singer cited the film's length and crowded plot as his reasons for cutting the scenes, and Paquin told Yahoo she still enjoyed getting to "go play" with some old colleagues from the original films during the shoot. However, being axed from a film that made almost $750 million worldwide while still impressing critics certainly didn't help to elevate her profile, even if some regard "The Rogue Cut" as the best version of DoFP.

Part of Pixar's rare miss

Just a few months after Paquin's performance in X-Men: Days of Future Past was relegated to home video, she faced another disappointment. Paquin starred as the tough T-rex Ramsey in Disney-Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, and despite the studio's long-running track record of box office and awards season successes, the film was largely ignored by audiences and given a comparatively ho-hum reception by critics as well.

Paquin was hardly to blame for The Good Dinosaur's bad results, of course — the film's production was famously fraught with problems. Even so, suffering through two major letdowns while working on large-scale studio films in the same year had to be a bit demoralizing, especially since she jumped into the latter project with such eager anticipation. Making matters worse, she spent much of the promotional tour for the film doing something she hates doing: answering questions about her kids.

Fighting the mamarazzi machine

Another reason Anna Paquin may have taken a step back from the spotlight in recent years is that she's fiercely protective of her children, twins Charlie and Poppy, whom she shares with her husband and True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer. Since giving birth to the pair in 2013, she's made a very concerted effort to guard their privacy. Considering Paquin started working at the age of nine, she's especially familiar with how unkind the limelight can be for kids.

"Everyone chooses what works for their family. There are aspects of one's private life that are fun and cute and not too revealing. And then there's stuff where you're making decisions for people who don't have a say yet about whether they want to be in the public eye," she told Today. "You won't find any pictures of my children. That's a choice we made very specifically. I want the right to say that they're not fair game." Indeed, she put one tube rider on blast for secretly sneaking a snap of her with her little ones in tow, saying that while she might be willing to take photos with fans who allow her children to stay out of it, she's the one who signed up for the spotlight. Considering the attention celebrity babies tend to get, keeping the two safe from the spotlight may be a lot of work.

Another reason to advocate

In addition to sticking up for her little ones, Anna Paquin has also been very vocal on her own behalf. In 2010, she publicly revealed that she's bisexual, appearing in a public service announcement for the "Give a Damn" campaign alongside other celebrities to promote LGBTQ rights and awareness. Paquin's portion in particular shed some light on the prevalence of hate crimes in the United States.

Paquin later explained that she wasn't trying to make a bold announcement with her participation in the video. "I'm not someone who endlessly talks about her personal life for no reason," she told Zap2it. "But obviously, as someone who identifies as bisexual, those are issues I really care about. It wasn't like it was a big secret. It was just a cause I cared about and privately supported, but not one that I had ever had an opportunity to speak out about in a way that would be useful." 

Soon after, she found the subject coming up repeatedly in interviews, so she felt it was "important" to help spread awareness for bisexuality on behalf of an oft misunderstood community. She's emerged as a major advocate for equal rights, promoting the NOH8 campaign alongside her husband Moyer, who has openly supported her.

Reteaming with the hubs

In 2014, Paquin and Moyer joined forces to start up their own production company, CASM Films, and they landed in familiar territory almost immediately with a first-look development deal at HBO. The endeavor might not have resulted in them reuniting for another romp through the mystical wilderness, but the company has allowed them to explore some other territory. 2018's The Parting Glass was directed by Moyer, while Paquin, who co-produced, starred in the picture — based on a script from the pair's fellow True Blood alum, Denis O'Hare, who also appears in the film.

According to Moyer, their decision to reunite for another project post-True Blood really paid off. "I don't think I've ever had somebody whom I trust as much as I do Anna, who pushes me to be the creative version of myself that I desire to be, and is so supportive of those sometimes difficult artistic choices," he told The Film List. "For me, personally it's the perfect relationship as both worker and partner."

Tuning out the siren song of fame

Co-owning her own production studio and choosing who she works with on the creative end has proven to be a big boon in Anna Paquin's current career, because her interest in the industry has evolved in recent years. "We wouldn't do it if we weren't passionate about it. You don't produce independent film if you're looking for fame, finance, and glory," she told Variety of her company's creative mantra. "You do it because of the love of the art — because of stories that you passionately want to tell."

The newest move for Paquin and CASM Films is a UK television series called Flack, which will feature her as an American public relations executive trying to hack it in London. Paquin has said she was "excited about tackling the creative complexities" of the budding series, particularly when it comes to the "intelligent humor" of the scripts and her character, adding that she's eager to be part of an "era of television as one in which women's roles are interesting, flawed and complicated." Like most of her recent TV work, the series is expected to be short — its initial order is for just six episodes — but it marks the studio's first scripted series, and could be the start of a grand return to television for Paquin in more ways than one.

No more blood donations

One thing fans aren't likely to see from Paquin is participation in any kind of True Blood revival. Plenty of shows have been brought back from the dead recently, but Paquin has already indicated her severe disinterest in suiting up for another night shift at Merlotte's Bar and Grill. 

In a chat with Variety, she explained why she doesn't think the series would be a good fit for another run. "For starters we killed off a lot of the characters, and some of the ensemble has passed away," she said, seemingly referencing the loss of co-star Nelsan Ellis. "Going back to rediscover the chemistry of that specific moment feels unsatisfying and makes what was amazing somehow less special." Considering the breadth of supernatural characters the show flew through over the course of its run, this may be one series that's simply run its course.

Returning to the big time sooner than later

Although Anna Paquin's been comparatively under the radar lately, that's likely to change in the very near future. She stars alongside Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's upcoming gangster drama The Irishman, a project she's described as being directly in her wheelhouse. "You'd need a magnifying glass to find the non-dark items on my resume. That's kind of where my taste skews," she told the Daily News of the project.

In the film, Paquin portrays Peggy, the daughter of the titular mafioso who claimed to assassinate Jimmy Hoffa, and indeed, her character — based on Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran's real-life daughter — promises a meaty role as she grows to fear her own father and what he's capable of. The film completed production in March 2018, is expected to debut on Netflix in 2019, and has already attracted plenty of attention for that starry cast — not to mention its sizable budget and length.