Oscar winner Anna Paquin’s character remains mostly silent throughout Martin Scorsese’s buzzy crime drama “The Irishman,” and that’s just fine with her costar Robert De Niro.
De Niro weighed in on the controversy surrounding his colleague’s lack of dialogue over the holiday weekend, contending that Paquin’s performance packs a “powerful” — albeit quiet — punch. Paquin delivers a total of seven lines during the three-plus-hour film as Peggy Sheeran, mafia hitman Frank Sheeran’s traumatized daughter.
“She was very powerful and that’s what it was,” De Niro recently told USA Today. “Maybe in other scenes there could’ve been some interaction between Frank and her possibly, but that’s how it was done. She’s terrific and it resonates.”
While Paquin’s Peggy occupies limited screen time, a younger version, played by child actress Lucy Gallina, commands additional, pivotal scenes that set up her troubling relationship with her murderous father — so that when the “True Blood” alum finally says her piece as an adult, it holds heartbreaking weight.
But the short speech was not enough for those who have followed Paquin since she became the second-youngest winner in Oscar history at just 11 years old in 1994 for her work in “The Piano.”
Similar to the outcry surrounding Margot Robbie’s minimal material in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” the internet was quick to accuse Scorsese of wasting Paquin’s talents.
The veteran filmmaker addressed the criticism ahead of the movie’s theatrical release, arguing in conversation with Spike Lee in New York that Peggy “doesn’t have to say anything” to make an impact. Even Paquin defended Scorsese’s choices on social media shortly after the Oscar hopeful hit theaters.
“Nope, nobody was doing any ‘ordering,’” she responded to Twitter users insinuating that Scorsese forced her to play a supporting role. “I auditioned for the privilege of joining the incredible cast of ‘The Irishman’ and I’m incredibly proud to get to be a part of this film.”
“The Irishman,” also starring Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, is now streaming on Netflix and still in select theaters.