Vera Farmiga

Vera Farmiga Biography

Film Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress, Television Actress, Actress (1973–)
Ukranian-American actress Vera Farmiga has earned acclaim for her starring roles in such films as 'Up in the Air' and the TV series 'Bates Motel.'


Born in New Jersey in 1973, Vera Farmiga started working in television in the late 1990s. Following her strong performance in the independent drama Down to the Bone, she moved on to prominent roles in such mainstream films as The Departed. The actress garnered an Academy Award nomination after starring in Up in the Air, and earned more critical acclaim for her work in the TV series Bates Motel.

Early Life

Born on August 6, 1973, in Clifton, New Jersey, Vera Ann Farmiga has built a substantial career for herself as an actress, playing a range of diverse characters. 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 5 or 6 years old.

Intro to Acting

Vera 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.

Film Roles

In 1998, Farmiga made her film debut in Return to Paradise with Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche. She went on to land 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 (2006). She portrayed 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.

Recent Successes

With Up in the Air (2009), Farmiga attracted international acclaim as an executive who becomes involved with a fellow frequent-flying professional played by George Clooney. "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 Oscar nod for best supporting actress.

Farmiga made her directorial debut in 2011 with Higher Ground, with younger sister Taissa among the cast. That year she also landed a prominent role in the science fiction flick Source Code.

Beginning in 2013, Farmiga garnered more acclaim for her performance as a younger Norma Bates in the A&E series Bates Motel. She also starred in the horror film The Conjuring (2013), bolstering her reputation for being attracted to morbid fare. However, the actress continues to take on projects across an array of genres. She starred in the 2013 romantic comedy At Middleton, which also featured sister Taissa, and the following year she appeared alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall in The Judge.

Previously married to actor Sebastian Roché, Farmiga lives on a farm in upstate New York with her husband, Renn Hawkey, and their two children. The family also spends time in Vancouver during the filming of Bates Motel

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