Farmiga, who is of Ukrainian descent, but grew up in Passaic County, New Jersey, is promoting her latest movie, Down to the Bone, in which she stars as a mother of two struggling with cocaine addiction.
The film, which won Best Director and A Special Jury Prize for acting at Sundance last year, was written and directed by Debra Granik.
Back inside her house, Farmiga is quick with a laugh as she reflects on the movie and contemplates what the future may bring. Farmiga has five films in post-production, setting the stage for 2006 to be her break out year.
But first there is the publicity for Down to the Bone to contend with. Farmiga describes the movie as a "down to earth portrait of a weary addict on the rocky road to sobriety."
The media tends to glamorize drug addiction, says Farmiga, but she and Granik wanted to banish the illusions and portray it more truthfully.
"It really is a miserable day-to-day existence and you’re just trapped in this downward spiral. It’s a bleak existence," she remarks.
Down to the Bone is about the effects long-term drug addiction can have on a person. There are no wild parties or deadly deals taking place in this movie, just the monotony of real life.
The movie was filmed only two hours outside New York City, but the landscape looks like any town in middle America.
Granik’s source material for the movie came from Corinne Stralka, a housekeeper living in upstate New York who served as the inspiration for Farmiga’s character, Irene.
Farmiga spent time with Stralka and other women who are struggling with addiction to get a better understanding for how it effected their lives.
"I have always been able to walk away from drugs with a shrug so for me to understand how it could be a salvation for somebody else was difficult to grasp," she says.
While she doesn’t adhere to any particular acting style, Farmiga does approach her characters from the outside and then works her way in.
She spent time cleaning houses with Stralka and training as a supermarket cashier. Then she started smoking two packs of cigarettes a day and wearing men’s steel toe boots to appear more downtrodden.
Farmiga said she probably went a bit too far when she started smoking.
"I don’t think I would do that again because I came out of this movie with an addiction," she says laughing. Farmiga eventually eliminated the habit.
Farmiga lives far from the gossip and glitz of Hollywood, but with upcoming roles in two high profile films – directed by A-list directors Anthony Minghella and Martin Scorsese, respectively – she won’t be able to hide from the industry’s spotlight for long.
Farmiga chuckles at the idea of her career skyrocketing. It’s hard to think about that when you’ve got goat dingleberries stuck to the bottom of your shoes, she says with a laugh.
Down to the Bone opens Nov. 25 at Laemmle’s Sunset 5.