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Vera Farmiga, ‘The Departed’

Supporting actress contender

Vera Farmiga has often worried about making her director, co-stars and even herself happy on a set. But never before has she had to bear the weight of the entire female population.

“I felt more pressure in ‘The Departed’ than in any film I’ve done,” she says. “I was going to represent the feminine gender.”

Being the lone lady on a testosterone-fueled production, many women would say Farmiga was in an enviable position. Not many actresses get to be the onscreen desire of both Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in the same film.

Those romances, though, didn’t mean much to her, and certainly not more than what both actors — as well as director Martin Scorsese — had to offer her in terms of learning the craft.

“Working with Leo and Matt was a nurturing energy,” explains Farmiga. “They weren’t only concerned with their performances but wanted to get the best performance out of me.

“The primary reason to take the role was to work with Marty. I liked the story, but I didn’t have a complete understanding of my character. I was terrified because I didn’t know exactly who she was when we started. He helped me create the character. I wanted her to be as complex as all the boys, with as many contradictions.”

Popular on Variety

Farmiga wouldn’t have gotten the role in “Departed” if not for her stellar turn in indie fave “Down to the Bone.” Pic about a woman who struggles with her children and drug habit preemed at the 2004 Sundance Film Fest, where she won the Special Jury Prize. It didn’t find theatrical release until a year later, and then she took home best actress honors from the L.A. Film Critics.

After non-existent box office, it’s only now that the pic is doing well on DVD and auds are understanding what Scorsese saw in “Bone” that made her a perfect fit for “Departed.

“I’ve seen ‘Departed’ several times, and it gets better and better,” Farmiga says. “It’s the complete anti-Hollywood film. People in it are rude, it’s antipolitically correct, and each character is morally ambiguous. It’s not dumbed down. Marty tells the story the way he wants to tell it.”

Actor who impressed you greatly after working together: “Sam Rockwell (in upcoming pic “Joshua”). A hard worker, fastidious and focused. The way he treats his collaborators, and his sense of humor, got me over the rough spots.”

Next project: “Joshua,” plus “In Tranzit” and “Never Forever”

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