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Martin Scorsese Tells Spike Lee About Anna Paquin’s Brief ‘Irishman’ Role: ‘She Doesn’t Have to Say Anything’

Scorsese discussed "The Irishman" with fellow director Lee to support the film, which opens theatrically November 1.

Anna Paquin in The Irishman

Anna Paquin in “The Irishman”

Netflix/screenshot

Martin Scorsese has rocked headlines in recent weeks with his comments on the Marvel Cinematic Universe films as theme parks, as well as with the general, ground-shaking ado stirred by his upcoming epic “The Irishman” for Netflix.

He’s has also had to defend his films against accusations that his films lack formidable female characters, calling the question from an Italian press member at the Rome Film Festival “a waste of everybody’s time” and pointing to Sharon Stone’s fabulously over-the-top, ex-hustler Ginger in “Casino” as an example. That question could surface again surrounding the male-dominated “The Irishman” — boasting a cast that includes Scorsese favorites Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, plus Al Pacino, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, Jesse Plemons, and Anna Paquin. (The film is getting some of the best reviews of Scorsese’s career.)

Paquin, the New Zealand-Canadian actress recently seen on Showtime’s “The Affair” and her own Pop TV series “Flack,” stars briefly in “The Irishman” as the adult version of Peggy Sheeran, Robert De Niro’s character Frank Sheeran’s daughter. In a recent New York conversation with Spike Lee about the film as reported by The Film Stage, Scorsese talked about how he and screenwriter Steven Zaillian considered expanding Paquin’s character, who has a very small but nonetheless impactful appearance in the film. Peggy is played in younger years in the decade-spanning crime drama by Lucy Gallina.

“I kept asking Steve Zaillian if we can layer her in the story,” Scorsese said at the DGA Theater in NYC. “I decided that she doesn’t have to say anything. You see your father do something like that, I’m sorry… You see him crush the guy’s hand like that… other kids maybe, but this kid couldn’t take it. She looks at him. She knows he’s up to something and Lucy was great, but Anna ultimately was amazing in the looks. She has one line in the film. There’s something you can’t talk about. She knows it. She knows who she is. He knows she knows. Even when she’s sitting there and the police are talking about Joey Gallo being [murdered.] ‘A lone gunman walked in…’ and you see she’s looking at him.”

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Listen to the conversation below, which also covers how Donald Trump’s reign as president influenced the film. “It was 2016 when the election happened. It was 2017 [when we shot this],” Scorsese said. “It was there. It was prominent [and] as it played it out there was resonance, there’s no doubt, in those scenes. I think you can see how pressure is applied. How things are said, but not said… Were very aware of the nature of the world around us at that point. There’s no doubt.”

“The Irishman” premieres in theaters on November 1, followed by its streaming debut on November 27.

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