Farmiga, the second oldest of seven children, was born in Livingston, New Jersey to Michael and Luba Farmiga, Ukrainian immigrants. She was raised in an insular Ukrainian American community, not speaking English until the age of six. She attended a Ukrainian Catholic school and toured with a Ukrainian folk-dancing ensemble. In 1991, Farmiga graduated from Hunterdon Central Regional High School.
In 1991, she graduated from Hunderton Central regional high school and initially dreamed of becoming an optometrist, but eventually changed her mind, and studied acting at Syracuse University's School of Performing Arts. She began her professional acting career in 1996, 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).
1998 saw Farmiga make her big screen debut, acting in the drama "Return to Paradise". In 2000 she played the daughters of Christopher Walken and Richard Gere in "The Opportunists" and "Autumn in New York" respectively, and made the most of her underwritten roles. 2001's "15 Minutes" marked the actress' breakthrough, in a part that somewhat utilized her own Eastern European background.
As a regular on the NBC drama "UC: Undercover" (2001- ), Farmiga finally took center stage, playing a strong-willed and crafty undercover investigator who keeps her cool in the toughest situations. Her portrayal of Alex Cross would expose the actress to a wide audience and offer her an enviable opportunity to play a featured and fully-realized female character. A supporting role in the episodic drama "Dust" (screened at the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals in 2001) put the actress back on the big screen, where she would also be featured in the independents "Dummy" (2003) and "Nine Scenes About Love" (lensed 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 John Voihgt
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
"I can't do Los Angeles. I've always been the anti-Barbie. I don't want to be in a place where almost every woman walks around with puffy lips, little noses and breasts large enough to nourish a small country. As a kid I wanted attention, so I started praying for glasses because everyone had ace vision in my family. Then one day my eyes started going bad and never stopped." Vera Farmiga