Vera Farmiga is a Ukrainian-American actress who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Performance in supporting Role as Alex in Up in the Air (2009/I).
She was born Vera Ann Farmiga, second of seven children on August 6, 1973, in Passaic County, New Jersey, USA. She did not speak English until the age of six, and was raised in a strict Ukrainian Catholic home of her father, Michael (Mykola) Farmiga, and her mother, Lyubov (Lyuba) Farmiga. She attended a Ukrainian Catholic school, then went to public School. Young Vera Farmiga was a shy nearsighted girl wearing spectacles while practicing her piano, and was switching to contact lenses for dancing. She was touring 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 Return to Paradise (1998), then played daughters of Christopher Walken in The Opportunists (2000) and Richard Gere in Autumn in New 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 The Manchurian Candidate (2004), to a mental patient in an insane asylum in Neverwas (2005). She co-stars as the wife of a mobster opposite Paul Walker in Running Scared (2006), as a humorous prostitute in Breaking and Entering (2006), and as a doctor in The Departed (2006).
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 end in 1997. Their marriage ended in divorce in 2005. In 2008 she married musician Renn Hawkey and the couple has one son, Finn, born in 2009. She shares time between her residencies in New Jersey and 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 had since she was a child.