May 2012 Cover Girl: Anna Paquin

An enigmatic actress? I didn’t know they still existed. We had Marlene Dietrich in the 1930’s, the ultra private Jodie Foster in the 80’s/ 90’s and all those other elusive starlets in between. But now? In an era where reality TV, Twitter, and TMZ have excessively fed our addiction for knowing all there is to know about stars? Any mystery has seemingly faded. At least I thought it had until I sat down for a sunny March afternoon lunch at Santa Monica’s M Kitchen with Anna Paquin and the orange peach smoothie she ordered. Successfully concealing a baby bump under layers of charcoal wool along with those Raisinette eyes hiding behind turquoise shades, I realized that she just might be our contemporary mysterious starlet.

From the start Paquin has been unconventional. We all remember her as the 11 year old girl who snatched an Oscar for that riveting performance of a deaf Scottish woman’s daughter in Jane Campion’s The Piano despite never having acted a day in her life. But did she seize the massive career awaiting her after this enormous accolade or did she slide down into an existence of addictions and arrests like so many other childhood actors? Neither. Instead she took a three year hiatus only to return to the screen in small unassuming supporting roles for such films as Almost Famous and Hurly Burly. Despite being part of the Xmen ensemble, Paquin didn’t actually step into a true starring role until she took on psychic waitress/ half-faerie/ “fang banger” Sookie Stackhouse in HBO’s triumphant True Blood. Leaving behind that little brunette girl from New Zealand who captured our hearts in the 90’s, she strutted onto our TVs as blonde, sassy, sexy and southern…and even more bewildering than before.

As an adolescent, I was obsessed with Nancy Drew mysteries. Intentional or not, Paquin has been just that. A mystery. One to keep her personal life fiercely private, she set off a whirl of media curiosity when she declared her bi-sexuality in a 2010 PSA for the Give a Damn campaign while engaged to husband and True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer. Her answer to the numerous inquiries of why she chose to come out now? “I'm not someone who endlessly talks about her personal life for no reason, but obviously, as someone who identifies as bisexual, those are issues I really care about.”

Sitting across from me stroking her unpolished, neatly cut nails and keeping a protective grasp on any and all words departing from her lips, I knew after getting “I don’t know” and “I can’t answer that” to several questions, I was going to have to convert into my beloved girl detective if I was going to get any insights into who she was. Luckily I was already wearing Miss Drew’s chic, 1960s attire. Unbeknownst to Paquin, I would attempt to solve “The Case of a Cautious Actress.”

For having been in the public eye for 20 years, we don’t really know a lot about you. I don’t know about that. There isn’t a lot of unchartered territory that hasn’t been covered or reported on or noted or observed.

Do you consider yourself mysterious? Mysterious?

Well, private. Sure. Not in some weird recluse way. I think it’s important to have things that are just for you and people that are closest to you. Some people share absolutely everything, but then what do you have left that’s yours? It diminishes what’s really special in your life.

Did you feel like you had to sacrifice some of the privacy you treasure in order to make a compelling statement for your Give a Damn PSA? Absolutely not. I think it’s a really minor biographical detail. If you’re going to talk about some cause in a way that’s meaningful, you should identify why it means something to you.

See more in the current issue of Zooey Magazine

Interviewed by Lecia Doss

Photographer: Derek Wood Stylist: Lyndzi Trang Production Assistants: Richard Luong, Porter Counts, Bret Lemke, and Alex Levine Stylist’s Assistants: Daria Kobayashi Ritch and Ashley Symone Lee Hair: Giannandrea (The Wall Group) Makeup: Fiona Stiles (The Wall Group) Nails: Jenna Hipp (Tracey Mattingly) Location: The Forge Studios in Los Angeles