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.In 2010, Paquin's film The Romantics, a romantic comedy with Josh Duhamel and Katie Holmes, was released in the US at selected cinemas in September.She played a cameo role in Scream 4, alongside Kristen Bell in 2011.
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.
In November 2006, she completed the film Margaret, which was released in 2011.
She played Elaine Goodale in HBO's made-for-TV film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, based on Dee Brown's best-seller.
In 2009, Paquin played Irena Sendler, a Polish woman hailed as a heroine of the Holocaust, in The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, a CBS TV film biographical film based on the book Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Irena Sendler Story, by Anna Mieszkowska.
The film was made in Latvia, and was a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation for the network.