An Oscar winner at the age of eleven for her performance in The Piano, Anna Paquin was the first New Zealander to receive the Best Supporting Actress honor and one of the youngest Oscar winners ever. Born July 24, 1982 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Paquin was raised in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. After making her stage bow at the age of seven as a skunk in a school production, she decided to audition for the part of Holly Hunter's precocious daughter in Jane Campion's The Piano. One of 5000 applicants, Paquin--whose previous work was limited to TV commercials--won the role, and with both the success of the 1993 film and her Oscar win, entered the realm of international fame. Aside from a series of TV ads for a computer company, Paquin retreated from the limelight until 1996, when she emerged, now a teenager, in the acclaimed family drama Fly Away Home. That same year, she could be seen playing a younger version of the title character in Franco Zeffirelli's adaptation of Jane Eyre.
After playing Queen Isabella in Steven Spielberg's Amistad (1997), Paquin assumed her first adult role, portraying a teenage runaway presented as a "care package" to two Hollywood bottom feeders in Hurlyburly (1998). The following year, she stepped back into more wholesome coming-of-age territory, playing Diane Lane's daughter in the critically acclaimed A Walk on the Moon and taking advantage of the current teensploitation wave with a small role in the popular high school comedy She's All That. That same year, she appeared in the star-studded ensemble drama All the Rage, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.
By 1999, Paquin was ready to reach a larger audience as an adult actress, and she found the perfect vehicle for this with the role of teenaged mutant Rogue in the movie big-budget comic book adaptation X-Men. She would reprise the role for the movie's sequels in 2003 and 2006, while also making modest, critically acclaimed appearances in movies like 25th Hour and The Squid and the Whale. Then in 2008, Paquin landed the part of telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse in the sexy vampire series True Blood on HBO. Based on a series of mystery novels, fans at first balked at the Kiwi actress's ability to embody the thoroughly Southern character, but Paquin won over old and new fans alike, pushing the series to become a massive success. Additionally, Paquin would find personal fulfillment on the set of True Blood as well, as she and co-star Stephen Moyer would strike up a romance and eventually get married in 2010.