Robert De Niro is defending Oscar winner Anna Paquin‘s largely silent supporting role in the three-and-a-half-hour Netflix film, The Irishman.
The True Blood star only says seven lines of dialogue in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed mob epic, causing some moviegoers to criticize her small role in a film full of men, including Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.
In The Irishman, the actress portrays Peggy Sheeran, the daughter of mafia hitman Frank Sheeran, played by De Niro.
“She was very powerful and that’s what it was,” De Niro, 76, 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.”
One Twitter user called Paquin “underused” in the film, while another said she “deserves better” as an award-winning actress.
“I didn’t have a problem with the character not talking,” the user wrote. “My issue was why cast Oscar winner Anna Paquin for 7 words of dialogue? If he wanted the character to be such a small role, cast a smaller actress. Paquin deserves better!”
In November, Paquin, 37, responded to the critics, defending her role in the film and calling the opportunity a “privilege.”
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“Nope, nobody was doing any ‘ordering,'” she wrote. “I auditioned for the privilege of joining the incredible cast of [email protected] and I’m incredibly proud to get to be a part of this film.”
Many fans agreed with De Niro and Paquin about the role and it’s meaning for the story, with one writing, “I think Anna Paquin’s silence in the movie speaks volumes.”
The Irishman is streaming on Netflix now.
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