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Illustration: Rob Kelly

The Hot Seat: Anna Paquin

The onetime wunderkind has turned into a real vamp.


Vampires do love the good girls—like in Dracula or Twilight—so it's no wonder that 26-year-old Anna Paquin is up to her fingernails in fake blood. Still remembered for scoring an Academy Award at age 11 for The Piano, the New Zealand import has since managed to lie low, avoiding that telltale trail of scandal and paparazzi. These days, as telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse on HBO's True Blood, Paquin runs from vampires (occasionally) and macks on them (about every five minutes).

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So you slept through our original interview time. Out late last night, huh?
We shot nights for two consecutive weeks. We're on vampire hours. I don't party. I'm not that cool.

It's not like I've never partied. As soon as you don't need a fake ID, it kind of loses its appeal.

You had a fake ID?
Course I did. I look like I'm 12! Especially when I was in college. A couple of occasions I had a bouncer look at it and go, no, you're not so-and-so. If I tried to say yes, I am, they'd go, "No, you're not, you're Anna Paquin!" Like, they'll know because my movie is playing across the street. They'd be like, this is the worst fake ID I've ever seen, go away.

And now that you're of age?
I look forward to sleeping on the weekends. I do occasionally get my nails done on the weekend, but usually because there's some miscellaneous vampire-related crap that ended up under them.

Er, blood? Dirt?
Miscellaneous. Mysterious. The cuter the outfit, the more you're about to get really messy in it on set. There's eye blood, there's mouth blood, there's congealed blood, there's liquid blood, there's old blood, there's crusty old blood.

What's the hardest kind of blood to get out in the laundry?
There was a time last night that they dumped an entire pureed vampire—it was fake—on top of me. It does sort of stain your skin a bit. Fun fact, completely useless: The old-school shaving foam, like Barbasol, is the only thing that gets it out of your skin. It opens up the hair follicles, your pores. It does it for color or, well, debris—you take a nice shower in head-to-toe shaving foam. Aren't you glad you know that? But that's just fake blood. No promises for real blood.

On a scale from Twilight to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where does True Blood fall?
I haven't really read Twilight. But it's all about the temptation and not the follow-through, right? Our show is Sookie and Vampire Bill doing it in the graveyard. These are all grown-ups having consensual vampire relations. It's grown-up kink.

There are all these metaphors for drugs and sexuality—what's Sookie's mind reading represent? Lack of personal boundaries?
She's like the kid who's, like, really good at something, so she isn't the most popular person in the class.

You were really good at something as a kid, winning an Oscar at age 11.
Is this therapy? Should I go lay down on the couch? I think you have a better likelihood of getting me to snore than getting me to open up. [Laughs] There's nothing as annoying as listening to an actor complain about how hard my life was because I was an actor. You gotta just keep your mouth shut.

What's the trick to soul-shivering screams, like the one that ended last season when you discovered the dead body?
You just scream. Loud. Have older siblings. I'm the youngest, so you scream loud or no one will come and intervene. My older brother stuffed me inside a cello case once. Zipped it up.

No wonder you moved thousands of miles from New Zealand.
No, the cello-case-putter-inner lives in Los Angeles. With his cello case. I, uh, love him. [Laughs]

The second season of True Blood premieres Sun 14 at 9pm on HBO.

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