Robert De Niro defends Anna Paquin's few lines in The Irishman

Anna Paquin stars as Peggy Sheeran, the daughter of Robert De Niro's criminal character, in the epic.

Robert De Niro has defended Anna Paquin's seven-word role in The Irishman, insisting the actress is "very powerful" despite her few lines.

Martin Scorsese's new film tells the story of former mob boss Frank Sheeran, who claims to have murdered labour union chief Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa vanished without a trace in 1975 and was declared dead in 1982.

Paquin stars as Peggy Sheeran, the daughter of De Niro's criminal character, in the epic.

Following Jimmy's murder, Peggy asks her father: "Why? Why?" When he replies, "Why what?", she says, "Why haven't you called Jo?"

Those are the only words Paquin says in the whole film, which many fans have criticised - accusing Scorsese and producers of underusing the Oscar-winning star.

However, in a new interview with USA Today, De Niro insisted he thought Paquin's portrayal of Peggy was perfect for the film.

"She was very powerful and that's what it was," he said. "Maybe in other scenes, there could've been some interaction between Frank and her possibly, but that's how it was done. She's terrific and it resonates."

Scorsese previously responded to chatter surrounding the character, who is one of few women in the production, noting he believes she communicates a great deal without dialogue.

"I kept asking (screenwriter) Steve Zaillian if we can layer her in the story," the filmmaker commented during a Directors Guild event. "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... Anna ultimately was amazing in the looks."

The Irishman, also starring Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, and Bobby Cannavale, is now showing in select cinemas and on Netflix.

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