Among the members of The Irishman’s gigantic cast is True Blood and X-Men star Anna Paquin, who plays Peggy Sheeran, the daughter of Robert De Niro’s Frank Sheeran. However, unlike the other major characters in the critically-acclaimed Netflix release, Paquin’s Peggy doesn’t say that much; in fact, the actress only ends up saying seven words in the three and a half hour-long runtime.
The fact that Anna Paquin was given so little to say in The Irishman has drawn polarizing reaction, but Robert De Niro has given his take on the matter, saying how she gave an exemplary performance despite the lack of dialogue. In the actor’s words:
She was very powerful and that's what it was. 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.
So while Robert De Niro acknowledged in his interview with USA Today that there might have been room to give Anna Paquin a little bit more to say in her scenes opposite him, overall he’s proud of what she was able to accomplish in The Irishman. His opinion joins the scores of people who felt that Paquin’s largely silent performance was a standout and powerful element of The Irishman, while others felt that she was underused.
Here’s what Anna Paquin had to say earlier this month when the criticism about her few lines in The Irishman popped up and she was accused of being “forced” to take the role.
To be fair, the character of Peggy Sheeran said more than just seven words throughout all of The Irishman, as she was also played as a child by Lucy Gallina. However, it’s when Peggy’s an adult that her silent condemnation of her father, who’s been working for the Bufalino crime family and hurting people on her behalf since she was little, becomes so much stronger, especially by the time she utters those seven words.
Warning: SPOILERS for The Irishman are ahead!
Upon meeting Jimmy Hoffa as a child, Peggy Sheeran immediately took a liking to the man, looking at him more favorably than Frank and Joe Pesci’s Russell Buffalino. So when Hoffa disappeared in 1975, she was upset, and when Frank notes how he hasn’t called Jimmy’s wife Josephine since Hoffa went missing, she glares at him and asks "Why" twice. When he asks for clarification on what she means, Peggy inquires, “Why haven’t you called Jo?”
While we never see Peggy Sheeran learning in The Irishman that it was Frank Sheeran who gunned dow Jimmy Hoffa, that exchange was enough to convince her that he played a role in Hoffa’s disappearance. As Robert De Niro’s Frank noted, she cut ties with him after that day, and when he tried to visit her at her banking job towards the end of his life, she refused to speak with him.
Wherever you fall on the Anna Paquin in The Irishman debate, one thing that’s unquestionable is that she had a meaningful role in one of the most well-received movies of the year. It ranks at 96% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s all but guaranteed to be a contender at the next awards season.