Robert De Niro Defends Anna Paquin’s Seven-Word “Irishman” Role

Paquin's character is the film's most prominent female role

the irishman al pacino robert de niro
Al Pacino and Robert De Niro as Jimmy Hoffa and Frank Sheeran in "The Irishman"

Martin Scorsese has caught some heat for underusing Anna Paquin in The Irishman. The Oscar-winning actress utters just seven words in the entirety of the three-and-a-half-hour movie, and now her onscreen father Robert De Niro is speaking out in defense of the role.

Paquin plays Peggy Sheeran, the daughter of De Niro’s Frank Sheeran character, and the seven words she says in the film — presented here without context to avoid any spoilers — are, “Why? Why? Why haven’t you called Jo?”

De Niro argued the decision to have Paquin’s character be mostly silent adds to the emotional weight of the scene when she finally speaks. “She was very powerful and that’s what it was,” the actor 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.”

Paquin’s Peggy is the movie’s most prominent female character. Last month, she responded to a rumor that she was “ordered” to take the role by tweeting, ““Nope, nobody was doing any ‘ordering’. I auditioned for the privilege of joining the incredible cast of @TheIrishmanFilm and I’m incredibly proud to get to be a part of this film.”

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