Anna Paquin

True Blood

It’s a world turned upside down, with HBO suddenly having to work double-time to keep up with the creatively impressive Joneses of basic cable such as AMC, FX and TNT. Amid that uncertainty, Anna Paquin takes center stage.

Fourteen years removed from her supporting actress win as a preteen in “The Piano,” Paquin heads the ensemble cast of “True Blood,” executive producer Alan Ball’s vampire-laden follow-up to the award-winning HBO drama “Six Feet Under.”

Now firmly in her 20s, Paquin plays the mind-reading Sookie Stackhouse with a concoction of seductiveness, self-sufficiency and innocence that will be key for HBO’s ongoing efforts to retain viewers in the post-“Sopranos” era.

“She is completely open-minded, which, in her very small town, is a little bit less common,” Paquin says. “And there’s just something about that level of enthusiasm that she has for things that are new and things that are exciting, as opposed to being frightened, that I think is really appealing.”

Less important to Paquin personally, but perhaps more so to HBO and its auds: Sookie is blonde, a first for Paquin.

“Boys like to stare at blonde girls,” she confirms. “Apparently it’s totally true, so it’s, uh, it’s amusing and quite lovely.”

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