Anna Paquin: It was tough to be a 'semi-perky mommy' while working on 'Bellevue'

By Karen Butler  |  Updated Jan. 19, 2018 at 7:03 AM
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Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Oscar-winning actress Anna Paquin said it wasn't always easy to leave behind the disturbing material she dealt with while making her new mystery drama Bellevue.

"It's really grisly. More than how did I get into the character was how did I then shake it off for the weekend to go be a semi-perky mommy for my kids," the 35-year-old Canadian native recently told UPI with a laugh. "That was harder than going into the dark place. I find jumping into the creative abyss incredibly easy and comfortable. It's where I feel that I'm at my strongest. Honestly, some of the stuff we shot was actually really upsetting because we are depicting real life."

Asked if parenting is easier since her husband Stephen Moyer is also an actor and understands what she goes through at work, Paquin joked about The Gifted star, "Except he wasn't at home because we are never in the same place at the same time."

Bellevue is a WGN America show focused on Paquin's character Annie, a police detective with a troubled past who is investigating the disappearance of Jesse, a transgender teen hockey player in a struggling, mining town in Canada.

Paquin described the issues at the heart of the eight-part series as "real, human, life struggles and drama" and she credited her co-star Sadie O'Neil, who plays Jesse and is transgender in real life, for offering her input and bringing a sense of truthfulness to the project.

"We wanted it to be as authentic as possible and also respectful and not in any way do a disservice by representing a community incorrectly and that's a part of the storytelling that really appealed to me. I like anything that challenges expectation. I like things that surprise me," Paquin said, adding another reason the small-town characters don't devolve into stereotypes is because "Jane Maggs -- who wrote these wonderful, weird, wild scripts -- is exceptionally smart, has all the details."

Raised in New Zealand and famous for her work in The Piano and the X-Men film franchise, as well as in HBO's True Blood and Netflix's Alias Grace, Paquin now lives in California with Moyer and their 5-year-old twins, Charlie and Poppy.

"I didn't grow up in a small town, but I did grow up in a very small country... It's not completely unfamiliar," Paquin said about the setting for her latest project.

"But, ultimately, my life has been completely abnormal and strange because I have been working on films and television since I was 9 years old, so do I have much to compare it to? No, honestly, my life bears no resemblance," she acknowledged.

"But Annie, as a character, for me, was actually a very easy fit... She kind of gets to say and do the things that a lot of us wish we could say and do and usually just kind of bite our tongues and toe the line and be appropriate. She's not appropriate. She doesn't behave the way she is necessarily supposed to behave and you kind of have to love her for it. It was exciting to play. She is very visceral and raw. I love that."

Co-starring Shawn Doyle, Sharon Taylor and Allen Leech, Bellevue is set to premiere Tuesday.

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