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Vera Farmiga, Up In The Air.
Vera Farmiga has become the actress of choice for mother and wife roles in Hollywood. She turns in another superb performance opposite George Clooney in her new film, Up In The Air. It’s the night after the London premiere of Up In The Air and Vera Farmiga, a woman who looks heartstoppingly beautiful even when playing a heroin addict, is still top to toe in movie star garb, all cascading blonde curls and killer heels. Like, wow.
Tara Brady, 18 Jan 2010
“I just want to hobble in this things,” she sighs toward her shoes. “I mean they’re just stilts really. I knew I was doing interviews today so I’m walking tall. As soon as you walk out that door, I’m going to be hugging my toes. But right now, I’m swaying.”
Swaying has always been a thing with the alabaster star of The Departed and Orphan. Born to systems analyst Mykhailo and schoolteacher Luba in a Ukrainian speaking, Catholic enclave of New Jersey – the actress didn’t learn English until she was 7 – young Vera first came to prominence as part of a world-famous Ukrainian folk-dancing ensemble.
“In Ukrainian culture, dance is very important, very rich in folklore,” she explains. “Our ensemble was based out of New York and we told stories through dance and incorporated ballet and a bit of modern. We toured opera houses all over. We did a national tour of the Ukraine. I was very lucky.”
She set out to train as an optometrist but the thrill of performance had already taken hold. It suits her: she was landing Broadway roles within weeks of graduation from Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts.
But dance, evidently, has never left her. In addition to a complex range of emotional grammar, no actor since John Wayne has worked so hard to define characters through movement and stance. Across a series of high profile supporting roles - Autumn in New York, 15 Minutes and The Manchurian Candidate (2004) - she has proved the old conciliatory Hollywood maxim ‘there are no small parts, only small actors’. Every character she plays seems to have a signature pose or a signature walk.
“Absolutely,” she says. “Movement is as important to me as the inner emotional life. It’s something I do acknowledge and try to sculpt. I’ve always been a snooper. I wonder why somebody is moving a certain way. Are they hobbling because they feel bad or because they’re wearing ridiculous shoes like I am right now? How you look is not a superficial thing. You read so much into a person from their hair, from their dress. These are great tools for any actor.”