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Robert De Niro Defends Anna Paquin’s Few Lines in ‘The Irishman’

By Erin Nyren

LOS ANGELES (Variety) – While subject predominantly to heaping praise, Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” has faced one criticism: that the most prominent female character in the movie, portrayed by Oscar-winning actress Anna Paquin, speaks just six words in 10 minutes of screentime.

Paquin plays Peggy Sheeran, the daughter of Robert De Niro’s Frank Sheeran. Throughout her life, she suspects her father — a hit-man for the Philadelphia mob — of being a morally corrupt person, particularly after he attacks a man, who evidently shoved Peggy in a grocery store, right in front of her. Despite her presence in the film, however, she rarely speaks, mostly staring at Frank in silence.

As a result, some have questioned why a talented actress would be so underutilized. De Niro, however, has defended Scorsese and screenwriter Steven Zaillian’s choice to minimize her words.

“She was very powerful and that’s what it was,” De Niro 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 herself defended the role as well earlier this month, agreeing with a user who scoffed at the idea that Scorsese ordered Paquin to appear in the film.

“Nope, nobody was doing any ‘ordering,’” she wrote. “I auditioned for the privilege of joining the incredible cast of ‘’ and I’m incredibly proud to get to be a part of this film.”

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