Vera Farmiga is an American actress who received an Academy Award nomination for best performance in her supporting role, opposite George Clooney, in Amor Sem Escalas (2009).
She was born Vera Ann Farmiga, second of seven children, on August 6, 1973, in Clifton (Passaic County), New Jersey, USA, to Ukrainian parents. She did not speak English until the age of six, and was raised in the strict Ukrainian Catholic home of her mother, Lyuba (Spas), a schoolteacher, and her father, Michael (Mykola) Farmiga, a computer systems analyst. Her younger sister is actress Taissa Farmiga. She attended a Ukrainian Catholic school, then went to public School. Young Vera was a shy, nearsighted girl wearing spectacles while practicing her piano, and was switching to contact lenses for dancing. She toured with a Ukrainian folk-dancing company in her teens.
In 1991, she graduated from Hunterdon Central regional high school. She initially dreamed of becoming an optometrist, but changed her mind, and studied acting at Syracuse University's School of Performing Arts. In 1996, she began her professional acting career, making her Broadway debut, as an understudy, in the play "Taking Sides". Her stage credits included performances in "The Tempest", "The Glass Menagerie", "Hamlet" and in a well-reviewed off-Broadway production, "Second-Hand Smoke" (1997). At the same time, she made her television debut as a female lead, "Catlin", opposite then-unknown Heath Ledger, in Fox's adventure series, Roar (1997).
In 1998, Farmiga made her big screen debut in the drama, Pela Vida de um Amigo (1998), then played daughters of Christopher Walken in Os Oportunistas (2000) and Richard Gere in Outono em Nova York (2000). She starred as a working-class mother struggling to keep her life and marriage together while hiding her drug addiction in Down to the Bone (2004), for which she won Best Actress Awards from the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Farmiga's acting talent shone in a range of characters, from her memorable role as the senator's daughter, opposite Jon Voight, in Sob o Domínio do Mal (2004), to a mental patient in an insane asylum in O Segredo de Neverwas (2005). She co-stars as the wife of a mobster, opposite Paul Walker, in No Rastro da Bala (2006), as a humorous prostitute in Invasão de Domicílio (2006), and as a doctor in Os Infiltrados (2006). In 2010, Vera Farmiga received an Academy Award nomination for best performance in a supporting role, opposite George Clooney, in Amor Sem Escalas (2009), which received six Oscar nominations. In 2011, she made her directorial debut with Em Busca da Fé (2011), where she also appears in the leading role as "Corinne", a thoughtful woman who struggles with belief, love, and trust - in human relationships as well as in God, and dares to question the religious dogma. Although the film had a limited release, Farmiga's direction and performance received attention at several festivals.
Vera Farmiga was formerly married to actor Sebastian Roché, whom she met during her work on the series Roar (1997), and the two eloped to the Bahamas after the series ended in 1997. Their marriage ended in divorce in 2005. In 2008, she married musician Renn Hawkey and the couple has two children, son Finn, born in 2009, and daughter Gytta Lubov Hawkey, born in 2010. Vera Farmiga lives with her husband and their children in Hudson Valley, New York. She also spends time and works in Los Angeles, California. Her other activities, outside her acting profession, include reading, playing her piano, and spending time with her pet angora goats, an obsession she has had since she was a child.