The Winnipeg-born Oscar winner delivers a new season of dark comedy
Amazon Prime VideoWinnipeg-born, New Zealand-raised Anna Paquin has reinvented herself myriad times over the years. In 1994, at the age of 11, she scored a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Piano. Six years later, she was at the vanguard of Hollywood’s superhero movement in X-Men, and eight years after that she headlined HBO’s steamy supernatural drama True Blood. These days, Paquin stars in Flack, a dark comedy about the PR biz, which she produces alongside husband and former True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer. She plays Robyn, an American publicist working in London who struggles to cover up the misdeeds of her famous clients—even as her own life careens off the rails.
TV Week: Season one ended with quite the epic meltdown for Robyn. How exactly is she going to pick up those pieces in season two?
Robyn has burnt a lot of bridges in both her personal and professional life while trying to expertly manage everything all the time, and has a lot of trust to earn back with the people who are important to her, and amends to make. And she is trying; she’s genuinely trying to get her life sorted and be better—but it’s all on the surface. She’s going to her NA [Narcotics Anonymous] meetings and she’s working out really hard and she’s committing herself to her job. But she still isn’t really dealing with what made her a person that has a substance-abuse problem. What are the underlying issues? And what’s interesting this season is we get to see more into her past and her family life and her story with her mom, and what that very dysfunctional relationship was like. And you get an understanding of how she ended up the spectacular mess that she is when we meet her.
It’s no doubt much more satisfying to play someone who’s a total mess...
Yeah, it is. I mean, maybe there’s some perfect people out there... I don’t know any. But I find flaws and character defects to be intriguing and interesting and what I want to watch—and certainly what I want to play. That’s sort of my happy, comfortable place creatively, because it just feels real. It feels authentic.
Amazon Prime VideoWould you say this is a “timely” show, given that it’s about PR people who cover up for celebrities—and, these days especially, there’s such a strong appetite for uncovering those indiscretions?
I think that there’s never going to be a time when people don’t want to watch people that pretend to be really well-behaved up front kind of getting in trouble for being actually terrible human beings. I think there’s something gratifying about getting to peek behind the curtain and be like, “Yeah, you’re not everything you’re pretending to be!” And I think there’s always going to be moments in the world and our cultures that will lend itself to [this kind of series] feeling relevant. We started developing the show seven or eight years ago and it only seems to get more relevant.
Stephen Moyer [Paquin’s husband] directed this season’s final two episodes. What was it like to work with him on some of those darker scenes?
It’s not that I wouldn’t or couldn’t go to the really dark places with someone that wasn’t him, because I have many amazing creative partnerships with [other] directors. But there’s an extra level of rawness that is easier to kind of immediately bring into the equation when it is the person who doesn’t just have your back on set but is your person that you fill your life with. That’s a level of trust and creative intimacy that is pretty hard to recreate in circumstances that are not specifically those, and therefore very freeing and really exciting...
Amazon Prime VideoWhether it’s True Blood or X-Men or whatever else, how do you move on from a career-defining role?
I’ve had so many of those sort of “moments.” Transitioning from kid to teen, from teen to young adult—these things that I know can be stumbling blocks or can be intimidating for people, and I just have never viewed it like that. I’ve always been excited to... “OK, what’s next? What do I get to do now?” I’m always just excited to see what’s going to be the next thing that really inspires me.
Flack streams on Amazon Prime Video