Anna Paquin

It was unclear which fact was more extraordinary about Anna Paquin - that she won an Academy Award at age 11 for her performance in "The Piano" (1993), or after her win, that she had no plans to continue acting. Movie goers were thankful for her later change of heart, as the Canadian actress continued to give thoughtful, complex and occasionally seductive turns as an adult in a wide variety of projects ranging from big-budget blockbusters like the "X-Men" franchise to independent fare like Noah Bambauch's "The Squid and the Whale" (2005). But it was her foray onto the small screen that allowed for her most compelling performances, particularly as a 19th-century schoolteacher who campaigns for Native American rights in the Emmy-winning miniseries, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" (HBO, 2007), for which she received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Paquin also shined in her first regular series television role, playing barmaid and telepath Sookie Stackhouse on Alan Ball's acclaimed "True Blood" (HBO, 2008-14), which only added to an already impressive career for the young actress.