Vera Farmiga

© Sgt. Michael Connors
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Now in cinemas

Vera Farmiga plays the role of Joanna in The Commuter.

BornVera Ann Farmiga
August 06, 1973 (age 44)
Profession Actor, Film Director
Spouse Renn Hawkey
Parents Mykhailo Farmiga, Luba Farmiga
Freebase ]

Vera Ann Farmiga (born August 6, 1973) is an American actress and film director. Farmiga made her feature film debut in the 1998 drama-thriller Return to Paradise. This was followed by the supporting role of Lisa Tyler in the 2000 romantic-drama film Autumn in New York, and Alex Cross in the 2001 television series UC: Undercover. In 2001, she was also cast as Daphne Handlova in the crime-thriller 15 Minutes. In 2004, she received critical praise for her portrayal of Irene, a woman trying to balance marriage and motherhood while harbouring a secret drug habit, in the independent film Down to the Bone. Her other film credits include the 2003 comedy Dummy, the 2004 drama Iron Jawed Angels, the 2006 crime-thriller The Departed, the 2007 horror Joshua, and the 2008 historical drama The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Farmiga gained critical acclaim following her performance as businesswoman Alex Goran in the 2009 comedy-drama Up in the Air, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, all for Best Supporting Actress. She also starred as Kate Coleman in the 2009 horror film Orphan, Capt. Colleen Goodwin in the 2011 action-thriller movie Source Code, and famous paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren in the 2013 horror film The Conjuring. She made her directorial debut with the critically acclaimed 2011 drama film Higher Ground, in which she also starred as Corinne Walker.

Since 2013, she has been starring as Norma Louise Bates in the A&E television series Bates Motel. For her performance in the role, she won the 2014 Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television, and was nominated for the 2013 and 2014 Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series, the 2014 Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama, the 2013 TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama, and the 2013 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Early life

Vera Ann Farmiga, the second of seven children, was born in Clifton, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants Mykhailo "Michael" Farmiga, a computer systems analyst, and Lubomyra "Luba" (née Spas), a schoolteacher. She was raised in an insular Ukrainian-American community, with Ukrainian as her native language. She did not learn English until starting kindergarten at the age of 6. Farmiga attended a Ukrainian Catholic school in Newark, New Jersey, and toured with a Ukrainian folk-dancing ensemble called the Syzokryli. In addition to being a professionally trained folk dancer, Farmiga is also a classically trained pianist and can read sheet music. As a girl, she converted with her family from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to Pentecostalism. She was a member of the Ukrainian Girl Scouts Organization Plast. In 1991, Farmiga graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School. She went on to study Performing Arts at Syracuse University, from which she graduated in 1995. Farmiga has one older brother named Victor (born 1972), and five younger siblings: Stephan (born 1975), Nadia (born 1977), Alexander (born 1988), Laryssa (born 1991), who has spina bifida, and Taissa (born 1994), who is also an actress.


Although she originally intended to become an ophthalmologist, Farmiga attended Syracuse University's School of Visual and Performing Arts. She made her Broadway debut in 1996 as an understudy in the play Taking Sides. The same year, she starred as Miranda in the American Conservatory Theater production of The Tempest. She also performed in several productions as a member of The Barrow Group, a prestigious New York City Theater Company, where her credits include Nina in The Seagull, and Anne in Good. Following her theater debut, she played the role of Caitlin in the FOX television series Roar, which was filmed in Australia, alongside Heath Ledger. Farmiga said that the series "wanted to be Braveheart but turned out more Xena: Warrior Princess." The show was canceled by the network after just one season.

Farmiga had her first starring role in the 2002 romantic drama film Love in the Time of Money. The film received a limited theatrical release. The following year, she appeared alongside Milla Jovovich and Adrien Brody in the romantic comedy Dummy (2003), which also had a limited release. In 2004, Farmiga had a main role in the independent drama film Down to the Bone. The film took place mainly in Upstate New York and was filmed in digital video. Her performance as the character of Irene earned her several award nominations, including the Best Actress Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Best Female Lead Award from the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Farmiga starred opposite George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Melanie Lynskey in the 2009 comedy-drama Up in the Air, which was initially given limited release (and later, wider release) on December 25, 2009. In an interview with, Farmiga explained her character: "She doesn't temper her desires at all. She makes clear her needs and expects to have the world accommodate them. It's not a character we often see on-screen, and when we do, more often than not she's bereft of dignity. So that was cool." Up in the Air received universal acclaim and was one of Farmiga's biggest box office successes, with a worldwide gross of $163,227,071. Roger Ebert praised her performance in the film, stating: "Farmiga is one of the warmest and most attractive women in the movies, or at least she plays one." In 2010, she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture as well as many other nominations.

Personal life

Farmiga met French actor Sebastian Roché while starring together in the television series Roar. They eloped to the Bahamas after the series ended in 1997. They separated in 2004, and were divorced in 2005. Farmiga married musician and carpenter Renn Hawkey in a private ceremony on September 13, 2008, after four years of dating. The couple have one son, Fynn McDonnell Hawkey (born January 15, 2009), and one daughter, Gytta Lubov Hawkey (born November 4, 2010). The family lived in Upstate New York before moving to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada when Farmiga started working on Bates Motel.

Farmiga's younger sister is actress Taissa Farmiga. The sisters consider each other their best friends. In an interview with Teen Vogue in 2013, Taissa said that her sister is "my stylist, my everything." Vera feels similarly, stating: "Taissa is the person you take with you to choose your Oscar gown and then take to In-N-Out Burger. As much of an age difference as there is [21 years], she is one of my best friends in the world." Taissa has also stated: "When I was growing up, people would always confuse me for Vera's daughter." Talking to Parade in 2014, Vera reiterated: "We're best friends, but I like to think I've parented her in a way, too."

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