Actress. Born on August 6, 1973, in New Jersey. Vera Farmiga has built a substantial career for herself as an actress, playing a range of diverse characters, from a Celtic warrior to a seductive executive. The daughter of Ukrainian parents, Farmiga grew up in a close-knit community and “went to Ukrainian Catholic school, was in the Ukrainian Girl Scouts, and did Ukrainian folk dancing in the Catskills during the summers,” she explained to Interview magazine. In fact, Farmiga did not learn English until she was five or six years old.
Farmiga discovered acting after being temporarily sidelined from playing soccer. She landed a role in a school play, and later chose to pursue her interest in drama at Syracuse University. After college, Farmiga found work in New York City theatrical productions. She then started working in television in the late 1990s. In addition to a supporting role in the 1997 made-for-TV movie Rose Hill, she worked on her first series Roar that same year. Farmiga played a Celtic woman who joins in the fight against the Romans during ancient times. Heath Ledger also starred in the short-lived show.
In 1998, Farmiga made her film debut in Return to Paradise with Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn, and Anne Heche. She landed a series of supporting roles, working with Richard Gere in the critically maligned drama Autumn in New York (2000) and with Christopher Walken in the independent film The Opportunists (2000). The following year, Farmiga appeared opposite Edward Burns and Robert De Niro in the crime drama 15 Minutes.
In 2004, Farmiga wowed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival with her performance in Down to the Bone. She starred as a mother who battles a drug addiction and won a Special Jury Prize at the festival for her work on the film. Soon after, Farmiga got a chance to work with legendary director Martin Scorsese on The Departed. She played a police psychologist who becomes involved with two law enforcement officers (played by Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio).
Farmiga’s career continued to flourish with numerous roles in many independent films, as well as a few big studio projects. “It’s just that when it comes to having a career in this business, we women have the shelf life of seafood, and . . . guys have the shelf life of Twinkies. When the work presents itself, you have got to take it,” Farmiga explained to Interview magazine.
With Up in the Air (2009), Farmiga attracted international acclaim. She played a sharp and charming frequent-flying executive who becomes involved with a human resources consultant (played by George Clooney) who travels the country firing employees for companies. “She’s a brilliant actress . . . I needed someone who could go toe-to-toe with George Clooney. And she was perfect,” Up in the Air director and co-writer Jason Reitman told Entertainment Weekly. For her work on the film, Farmiga received several award nominations, including an Academy Award nod for Best Supporting Actress along with her co-star Anna Kendrick.
Farmiga lives on a farm in upstate New York with her husband, Renn Hawkey, and their son, Finn. She was previously married to actor Sebastian Roche.