Anna Paquin on Joanie’s Story & Getting Answers in ‘The Affair’ Season 5

Anna Paquin riding a bicycle in The Affair
David Giesbrecht/SHOWTIME.

When this puzzle box of a show returns, the fifth and final season will be The Affair‘s first without star Ruth Wilson. From the beginning, the soapy psychological drama has challenged viewers by presenting multiple characters’ perspectives of the same events. Ground zero: the affair between grieving waitress Alison (Wilson) and narcissistic author Noah (Dominic West).

The indiscretion destroyed both their marriages — to Cole (Joshua Jackson) and Helen (Maura Tierney), respectively — and, in fact, Alison’s daughter, Joanie, was thought to be Noah’s. (Turned out Cole is the father.)

In a massive twist last season, Alison died, but the two different versions of that night left us wondering whether she’d been murdered.

Now Oscar winner Anna Paquin joins the cast as the adult Joanie, who is seeking answers in Alison’s hometown of Montauk, New York, roughly 30 years later.

The actress, only half joking when she says she doesn’t want to get her “hand smacked” by protective producers, tells us what she can.

What kind of adult has Joanie become?

Anna Paquin: She is a coastal engineer, and the environment is collapsing in quite predictable ways, so that’s her area of expertise. On the homelife front, it’s not great. She’s not a particularly happy woman overall.

How have the events of her childhood shaped her?

Everything the audience knows about her life is not necessarily the version of events as she understands it. Obviously, she’s grown up without a mother, which has had a profound effect. She and everyone else is very confused about how her mother died. The audience knows more sometimes than the character does.

Does she have a relationship with any other key characters?

I can’t answer that. I don’t want to get myself in trouble!

Can you drop any hints about Alison’s death?

The specifics are way too crucial to the plot to go into detail, but I feel like people are going to get all the answers they are looking for.

The Affair, Season Premiere, Sunday, Aug. 25, 9/8c, Showtime