Down to the Bone
"I can't do Los Angeles. I've always been the anti-Barbie. I don't want to be in a place where almost every woman walks around with puffy lips, little noses and breasts large enough to nourish a small country." Vera Farmiga.
Up-and-coming star Vera Farmiga has worked opposite such Hollywood heavy hitters as Christopher Walken in The Opportunists (2000), Robert De Niro in 15 Minutes (2001) and Denzel Washington in The Manchurian Candidate (2004) before delivering a critically acclaimed performance as a working mom struggling to raise her children while keeping her drug addiction a secret in the 2005 independent film, Down to the Bone. The porcelain-skinned, blue-eyed beauty, who played Richard Gere’s estranged daughter in the 2000 hit Autumn in New York, recently played Paul Walker’s wife in Running Scared (2006). She will soon be seen acting opposite Jude Law and Juliette Binoche in Anthony Minghella's romantic drama Breaking and Entering, and with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson in Martin Scorsese's crime drama The Departed, as a lively police psychiatrist named Madolyn.
The slender, loose-limbed, 5’ 6” tall blonde, the ex-wife of Scottish-French actor Sebastian Roche, is currently filming her upcoming films: Quid Pro Quo, In Tranzit, Joshua, and Never Forever.
Childhood and Family:
"As a kid I wanted attention, so I started praying for glasses because everyone had ace vision in my family. Then one day my eyes started going bad and never stopped." Vera Farmiga.
A daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Vera Farmiga was born on August 6, 1973, in Passaic County, New Jersey, an insular Ukrainian community. Along with her six siblings (Vera is the second child), she was raised in a strict Ukrainian Catholic home by her parents, Michael and Luba Farmiga. Grewing up in an Ukranian-speaking enclave, Vera did not speak English until she was 6 years old. She went to Ukrainian Catholic school, a member of the Plast Ukrainian Scouting Association, and toured with a Ukrainian folk-dancing company.
In 1991, Vera graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School Class. Initially dreaming of becoming an optometrist, she changed her mind after a stint at Syracuse University's School of Visual and Performing Arts.
During filming the short-lived television drama “Roar,” Vera fell in love with her co-star, Scottish-French actor Sebastian Roche (born August 4, 1964). In 1997, the couple eloped to the Bahamas after the series' end. They later divorced in 2005.
When she is not busy filming, Vera loves to do her hobbies: reading, playing the piano, and spending time with her pet goats.
“I like to read. When you're working, you just read so many scripts that it's hard to...so reading is very important--things other than scripts. I play the piano. I'm sort of obsessed with livestock lately. I have goats that I'm obsessed with. Next I would really like to get a whole heard of angora goats and start spinning wool. It's an obsession of mine I've had since I was a child. They're so sweet, goats. Very smart, too.” Vera Farmiga.
Moment of Excitement
"It's terrifying to be the lead. There's a moment of excitement, and then pure terror." Vera Farmiga.
Originally intended to become an optometrist, Vera Farmiga turned to acting and gave a performance in the melodrama "Vampire" that led her into Syracuse University's acting program. She made her Broadway debut in 1996, as an understudy in British playwright Ronald Harwood's play “Taking Sides” and followed it up with a starring role as Miranda in the American Conservatory Theater production of William Shakespeare's last play “The Tempest” (also in 1996). The next year, she was featured in the Off-Broadway play "Second-Hand Smoke."
Vera entered the small screen with a bit part in the TV movie version of Julie Garwood's novel, Rose Hill (1997), starring Jennifer Garner. That same year, she became a cast member of Fox’s short-lived adventure series set in 4th century Ireland, "Roar" (1997), playing medieval battler Caitlin opposite Heath Ledger. Subsequently, Vera was spotted as a guest in an episode of the short-lived NBC drama "Trinity" and NBC's award-winning cop and legal drama "Law & Order."
1998’s gripping drama, Return to Paradise, was Vera’s feature debut, in which she had a supporting role opposite Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix. Two years later, she could be seen playing the grown daughter of Christopher Walken's retired gangster in writer-director Myles Connell's mob drama comedy, The Opportunists (also featuring Cyndi Lauper), and became Richard Gere's estranged daughter in Joan Chen's romantic drama Autumn in New York (also starring Winona Ryder). TV viewers could also catch her starring as the calculating undercover agent Alex Cross on the NBC action-thriller series "UC: Undercover," in which she stayed from 2001 to 2002.
During her “UC: Undercover” stint, Vera was featured in writer-director Milčo Mančevski’s 2001 Macedonian film, Dust, starring Joseph Fiennes and Adrian Lester. The independent movie, which was filmed in Germany, was screened at the Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. She also co-starred opposite Robert De Niro and Edward Burns in writer-director John Herzfeld’s 15 Minutes (2001), playing a supporting role as a young Czech immigrant who witnesses a crime and falls for the criminal investigator (played by Burns).
Commenting on working with Hollywood heavyweight Robert De Niro in 15 Minutes (2001), Vera said: "What De Niro's name evokes in people didn't do it for me. But as you stand opposite him, you know exactly what they're talking about. He's astounding."
After co-starring with Miranda Richardson and Tom Irwin in ABC's new interpretation of the classic tale Snow White (2001), Vera appeared in writer-director Gregory Pritikin's romantic comedy Dummy (2002), in which she co-starred with Adrien Brody and Milla Jovovich, playing the girl in the dreams of a socially inept fellow (played by Brody). She then co-starred with Steve Buscemi in writer-director Peter Mattei’s Sundance-screened drama comedy Love in the Time of Money (2002) and was cast alongside Denzel Washington, Jon Voight and Meryl Streep in Jonathan Demme's adaptation of a 1959 thriller novel written by Richard Condon, The Manchurian Candidate (2004).
The portrayal of Irene, a working-woman stuck in a stale marriage struggles to raise two sons while keeping her cocaine addiction a secret, was Vera’s first breakout role. She played it in director Debra Granik's first feature film, Down to the Bone (2004). The role won Vera a Los Angeles Film Critics Association award for Best Actress and nominated her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead.
After appearing in 2004 made-for-TV movies Iron Jawed Angels (starring Hilary Swank and Anjelica Huston) and Touching Evil (as Detective Susan Branca; based on the British crime drama of the same name which she also starred), Vera was featured in writer-director Eric Schaeffer's multi-story film Mind The Gap (2004). She was also seen in Ari Ryan's crime drama The Hard Easy (2005; with David Boreanaz) and writer-director Joshua Michael Stern's mystery drama Neverwas (2005; starring Aaron Eckhart, Nick Nolte and Ian McKellen).
More recently, Vera played Teresa, the wife of a former chain smoking low-level mobster (played by Paul Walker), a woman with more sides to her than anyone could guess, in writer-director Wayne Kramer's crime film Running Scared. Being asked if she had watched the film with audiences, Vera replied: “I've only seen it by myself in a theater alone. I certainly know my first reaction when I read the script and everything was...shocking. It was extremely shocking--so weird, bizarre, this whole world, that fanciful world mixed with this grit. I thought it was very bold. I thought it was very unique. I was utterly confused...and these crazy characters would just come and leap off the written page, and I thought, you know, this guy is taking some risks. It's making me feel a lot of conflicting things and that peaked my interest. You know, the extremity of reaction that I had.”
Moviegoers will soon watch Vera joining with Jude Law and Juliette Binoche in Academy Award-winning British filmmaker Anthony Minghella's romantic drama Breaking and Entering (premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival) and with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson in Martin Scorsese's crime drama The Departed, a remake of the popular Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs. In the film, she will play a beautiful police psychiatrist named Madolyn who dated a hardened young criminal and police department informant (played by Damon).
Additionally, Vera will soon complete filming her upcoming projects: writer-director Carlos Brooks' drama-thriller Quid Pro Quo (costarring with Nick Stahl) and Tom Roberts' war drama In Tranzit (alongside John Malkovich). She will also star in George Ratliff's psychological thriller Joshua (opposite Sam Rockwell) and writer-director Gina Kim's drama Never Forever.
"I don't have to make decisions there like, ‘should I wear Kenzo or Prada?’ I mow the lawn on my tractor all day. It's much cheaper than therapy." Vera Farmiga.
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actress, Down To The Bone, 2005
- Marrakech International Film Festival: Best Actress, Down To The Bone, 2004
- Sundance Film Festival: Special Jury Prize - Dramatic, Down To The Bone, 2004