Robert De Niro Defends Anna Paquin’s Seven Words of Dialogue in The Irishman

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Considering the extensive runtime of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, you’d think they could let Anna Paquin say more than seven words. That’s the argument from critics of the film, anyway, who feel the Academy Award-winning actress is underutilized as Peggy Sheeran, the adult daughter of Robert De Niro’s mob hitman Frank Sheeran. Robert De Niro, however, would like to disagree. “She was very powerful and that’s what it was,” the actor told USA Today about the cinematic controversy. “Maybe in other scenes there could’ve been some interaction between Frank and her possibly, but that’s how it was done.”

In case you haven’t seen it, Paquin’s only dialogue occurs at approximately two hours and fifty minutes into the film. (Spoiler alert, if you don’t want to know what those seven words are.) While watching news coverage of Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance, father Frank reveals he has yet to reach out to Hoffa’s wife to offer his condolences or support. “Why?,” Peggy presses him. “Why? Why haven’t you called Jo?” The exchange is brief, but many have praised Paquin’s performance in the film, interpreting her character’s overarching silence as abiding by the unspoken family prohibition against acknowledging her father’s violent double life. Peggy doesn’t need to speak out loud, the idea goes, for you to understand she sees Frank for who he really is. Concluded De Niro, “She’s terrific and it resonates.”

Robert De Niro Defends Anna Paquin’s Seven Words in Irishman