It’s hard enough being a young actress, much less a poster girl for why it’s so hard to be a young actress. “It was terrifying,” says Vera Farmiga, 33, the subject of a New York Times Magazine cover story about the scarcity of meaty roles for movie actresses. But Farmiga, first buzzed-about at Sundance ’04 with Down to the Bone, just appeared in The Departed, and she stars in two Sundance premieres: Joshua, a psychological thriller, and Never Forever, an interracial love story.
In Joshua, you play a mother with postpartum depression, which must have been a challenge, since you don’t have kids.
Sometimes I attract roles that are necessary either for personal growth or enlightenment. Someone very, very close to me was going through a psychosis—it wasn’t a postpartum psychosis, but it was still a neurochemical brain dysfunction. So I was dealing with that and at the same time displaying it onscreen.
Totally. And we were filming when spring was burgeoning in New York, which is one of my favorite times of year. So the last thing I wanted to take on was psychotic postpartum depression.
How did you get into that mind-set?
I needed to look as if I could have just popped out an infant, so I put on a good twelve or thirteen pounds. You know, it’s amazing what a little weight gain can do to your mental well-being.
And what attracted you to Never Forever?
It was the most visceral love story I had ever read—a gut-wrenching affair between an Asian man and a Caucasian woman, which is a coupling that’s not often represented in American film. I play a woman who doesn’t know what she wants in life—I’m really someone who does.
I just want more people to see my films.