She romanced Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Departed,” and she may be in line for an Oscar.
I like being off the grid,” says actress Vera Farmiga, who eschews Hollywood excesses by living on a goat farm. “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.”
Sitting cross-legged on a shag rug at a Beverly Hills hotel poolside lounge, Farmiga, 33, admits she is recognized more often these days — but says fans often think she’s someone else. A decade into her career, Farmiga is finally getting her due. In 2004, she won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for her portrayal of a coke-addicted mother in “Down to the Bone.” Then came “The Departed,” for which she received rave reviews (and even Oscar buzz) as the sole female in a macho crime thriller.
Now, the actress has a supporting role in “Breaking and Entering,” a drama starring Jude Law in which she plays a blunt Romanian hooker who befriends Law’s buttoned-up architect. “I was astonished by her lack of inhibition,” says Anthony Minghella, who directed “Entering.” “She’s very modest and unassuming in person.”
She fought against sexing up one of her first roles, a Celtic warrior on the short-lived TV series “Roar.” “It makes me cringe, thinking about it,” Farmiga says. “They wanted me to be a scantily clad Xena; I just wanted to look rough and ride horses.” Still, she met her (now ex-) husband while doing the role and also co-starred with an 18-year-old Heath Ledger.
Farmiga is also refreshingly honest about the roles that got away: the lead in “Million Dollar Baby,” the latest Bond girl in “Casino Royale.” “I did a screen test in London for it,” she says of the latter. “I loved things about the script, but I probably sabotaged myself. I just didn’t feel it in my gut.”
Off the clock, Farmiga eschews Hollywood by living on a goat farm in rural Upstate New York. “In another life, I was a shepherdess,” she says. “I like being off the grid. I want to be self-sufficient and live off the land.”
Not that she is all alone; Farmiga lives with her boyfriend of three years, Renn Hawkey, keyboardist for the band Deadsy. The couple met through a friend. “We locked eyes, and I knew my life would change,” she says. “We’re totally co-dependent.”
They are also optimistic about the future. Farmiga wears a chain around her neck with three charms: One is a snake curled around a staff, which is a symbol of good health; another is St. Christopher, who is the patron saint of travelers; and the third she got in Morocco. “It’s from a soothsayer,” she says. “It is supposed to stand for ‘luck in career.’ I think it’s working,” she says and for sure, her journey is far from over.
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