At the Cannes Film Festival in May, Quentin Tarantino was “visibly upset” when a reporter asked him about Margot Robbie’s role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The actress, as Sharon Tate, has few lines in the film, but “I did feel like I got a lot of time to explore the character without dialogue, which is an interesting thing,” Robbie explained.
The same sort of discussion — about a woman barely speaking in a movie dominated by men — is happening again with Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, and Anna Paquin, who’s at the center of the “controversy,” wants nothing to do with it.
In the Netflix mob epic, Paquin plays Peggy Sheeran, the disapproving daughter of Robert De Niro’s Frank Sheeran. She’s the moral center of the movie, but some critics have equated her silence for Scorsese undervaluing female characters (example headline: “Seen but not heard: why don’t women speak in The Irishman?”) In response to a Daily Mail article about how she has “10 minutes of airtime in the entire three and a half hour film” and Scorsese “ordering” her to be in the movie, Paquin tweeted, “Nope, nobody was doing any ‘ordering.’ I auditioned for the privilege of joining the incredible cast of @TheIrishmanFilm and I’m incredibly proud to get to be a part of this film.”
Nope, nobody was doing any “ordering”. I auditioned for the privilege of joining the incredible cast of .@TheIrishmanFilm and I’m incredibly proud to get to be a part of this film. https://t.co/yx54jE4ugy
— Anna Paquin (@AnnaPaquin) November 9, 2019
This is where the conversation ought to end, with Paquin’s tweet, but it will continue (and the irony that when a woman speaks, she’s ignored, should not be lost). Scorsese has also weighed on the conversation surrounding Peggy’s silence, telling Spike Lee, “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… 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.” The Irishman debuts on Netflix on November 27.