That's the Spirit

Vera Farmiga puts her faith in directing

Photograph by Ryan Pfluger for TIME

Vera Farmiga is not an orthodox movie star. I'm reminded of this in her garden in upstate New York when she starts hollering. One minute she's sipping from an ornate blue-and-gold Russian tea set and discussing her new film about faith and doubt. The next, she seems to be shouting in tongues: "Zoshya, Fruzia, Sofika!"

As it turns out, she's summoning not the Spirit but her goats, who apparently speak Ukrainian (one of Farmiga's four languages). Zoshya, Fruzia and Sofika live with Farmiga, her husband and their two children on a 3-acre (1.2 hectare)property that borders a Christmas-tree farm. The goats...