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Director Jane Campion was looking for a little girl to play a main role in The Piano, set to film in New Zealand, and a newspaper advertisement was run announcing an open audition.
Paquin's sister read the ad and went to try out with a friend; this inspired Paquin to also audition.
She also participated in gymnastics, ballet, swimming and downhill skiing, though she did not have any hobbies related to acting. Having begun her secondary education in Wellington at Wellington Girls' College, she completed her high school diploma at Windward School in Los Angeles, after moving to the U. with her mother following her parents' divorce (1995).
In an interview with V Magazine, she talked about it, saying, “Frankly, no one had ever asked me before.
My sexuality is something I’m completely comfortable with and open about. They were early and it was touch and go there for a while, and so anything is amazing.
Paquin went on to become a successful child actress, receiving multiple Young Artist Award nominations for her roles in Fly Away Home (1996), The Member of the Wedding (1997), and A Walk on the Moon (1999), and was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for appearing in Cameron Crowe's comedy-drama film Almost Famous (2000).
She played mutant superheroine Rogue in multiple films of the X-Men franchise and was nominated for a Saturn Award for her performance in the first installment.