Think of Anna Paquin as the Dakota Fanning of her day. She's worked alongside Hollywood heavyweights like Sean Penn and Laura Linney, and, in 1994, even took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "The Piano" at age 11. Yet, somehow, she succeeded for a long time in living life under the radar ... until now.
Thanks to a little show called "True Blood," her steamy romance with co-star Stephen Moyer, and her revelation last spring that she's bisexual, the now 27-year-old is smack dab in the spotlight. In the new issue of Self magazine, Anna opens up about all those hot topics, as well as how she feels about baring her bod on the hit HBO vampire series.
The first rule for her newfound fame? Don't worry about whether that pack of photogs behind you is getting your good side. "I'm newly initiated into the followed-by-paparazzi crowd, and I've had to stop caring what people I don't know and will never meet think about me," Anna says. "If I did, I'd never leave my house! It's like, OK, I'm sorry that at 6 a.m. when I walk my dog, I don't look ready to hit the red carpet. That's me! I don't always dry my hair if I'm not going out. Ooh. And, yes, I wear a helmet when I ride my bike. Seriously, I was made fun of for wearing a bicycle helmet. I was like, OK, that would be a really stupid reason to die. At that point, I was done."
Not that the native Canadian, who grew up mostly in New Zealand, is overly concerned with people's opinions of her anyway. When the fitness mag asked her about her comfort level portraying a character who wears barely-there ensembles, Anna confessed she actually prefers to be in the buff.
"If I had let the oh-God-my-body-is-going-to-be-on-display-all-the-time part of it mess with my head, it would've killed 'True Blood's' chance of being something that made me really happy," Anna says. "Oddly, I find the nude scenes to be a lot less stressful than just constantly being very skimpily clad. I'm quite comfortable with being naked, but spending 18 hours a day wearing little tank tops that could fit a 2-year-old and shorts that barely cover my bum? For me, that was an adjustment. That said, I never think about it now."
Of course, the hottie works hard to fit into those tiny tanks. She keeps her toned physique by swimming, boxing, running, and practicing pilates, among other things.
"I don't know too many women who are 100 percent happy [with their body], but I'm the happiest I've been. For me, it has more to do with being fulfilled in other areas of life, not how many hours I'm at the gym," she says. "If you're not happy in other areas of your life, you're not going to be happy with the way you look."
These days, the TV siren is content, too, thanks to her fiance Stephen Moyer, who plays vampire Bill Compton. "Obviously, there's no guarantee that [a workplace love] won't be complicated, but it's not like we went into it completely blind. Ultimately, you have to do what's right for you. You can't choose who you fall in love with, as inconvenient as that may be." And she even kinda gets fans' fascination with their fave characters being an item in real life. "Being in a relationship with someone who is also in the public eye and on the same show -- that interests people," she acknowledges. "There's almost an obsession now with 'celebrity couplings.' It's a luxury to get to go to work with the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, because I love my job and I'm really happy."
So was her world rocked after she explained that she's bisexual for a PSA back in April? Um, no. "I'm a very private person, but everyone who is in my life who matters to me always knows what's going on. I understand why it's a big deal to some people, but to me, it's not. I've probably always known I was bisexual. I'm really lucky; I grew up in an open-minded, supportive family, so my sexuality was never stigmatized or scary or out of bounds. I'm comfortable with who I am, and it's not an issue."
The starlet also dished on the lighter subject of a couple of changes she's made to her appearance for the show that have left her surprisingly satisfied: adding a serious golden glow and lightening up her locks. "Naturally I'm almost transparent!" she admits. "Spray tanning, with the right person doing it, is amazing. All the color, none of the cancer! And my experience has been -- as annoying as it sounds -- it's true that people stare at blond girls more than quasi-famous brunettes."
Like it or not, Anna, everyone's looking at you now.
Read the full interview with Anna Paquin in the July issue of Self.