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Scripted and directed by Mark Herman, who also directed Little Voice and Brassed Off, the film tells the story of a German boy, Bruno, and a Jewish boy, Shmuel, who strike up an improbable friendship across the barbed-wire fence of a concentration camp. The novel is such a powerful piece of literature, and I needed to be a part of it. That's the only criterion for me with scripts - I've got to be affected by it, and not just for the moment, or that day.Farmiga plays the role of Elsa, Bruno's mother and the wife of the camp commandant.'How badly did I want this role? I have to think about it, and to keep thinking about it.I was tired of weed-whacking a 100ft plot that was very rocky, and so I thought I'd get a couple of animals to graze. But they're browsers, not grazers - they prefer to reach up for their food.
Now the Ukrainian-American actress is getting inside the head of a death camp commandant's wife.She sat in on group-therapy sessions in a rehab centre, and for a week worked alongside Stralka as a domestic cleaner.'She made me pick all the pubic hair out of the soap.'There is a general rule of thumb in the film world that you live where the work is, which usually means Hollywood. And living where I do has always been a great vantage point for me.Even if at the end of it all I didn't get the role it would be fine because I'd already executed it in my own living-room.'It was one of these audition films that led to Scorsese inviting her for what she calls 'a chemistry read' with Leonardo Di Caprio, and her role in The Departed as a police psychiatrist who counsels good cop Di Caprio and bad cop Matt Damon, and ends up in bed with both.She was elated to get the job, of course, although she told Scorsese she thought her character was 'underwritten'.