Leonor Varela Palma (born December 29, 1972) is a Chilean actress, spokesperson, and model. Leonor played the title character in the 1999 film Cleopatra, but her comic book hottie role was in Blade II as the sexy vampire princess.
Varela was born in Santiago, Chile, the daughter of Leonor, a massage therapist, and the famous Chilean biologist and cognitive neuroscientist Francisco Varela García. She has one sister Alejandra and two brothers, Javier and Gabriel. Her father was of Spanish, Macedonian-Greek, and Syrian ancestry, and her mother, Leonor Palma, was of French, Italian, and Algerian-Amazigh ancestry. Varela's family fled to Costa Rica in her early childhood when her homeland was overtaken by a military regime. She subsequently resided in Germany, the U.S., and France. In the early 1990s, her parents moved back to Chile, while she remained in Paris where she studied acting at the Niels Arestrup School, The Ecole de Passage, and Conservatoire Superieur de Paris.
Varela's first job was in 1995, playing Anette in Pony Trek, a children's film. Filming was in Iceland and Leonor was riding horses for three months. Then, referred to a French filmmaker by her dentist, she played in Shooting Stars (1997). Varela found her popularity on the rise at home when she was cast in the Chilean soap opera Tic Tac.
After appearing in a few more television productions in the late 1990s, Varela was cast in a small role in The Man in the Iron Mask. In 1999, she played the title character in the TV movie Cleopatra. She fell in love with actor Billy Zane (Mark Antony) on the set, but they split up two years later. She has been married to philanthropist and musician Kevin Duane Taylor of Garland, Texas since April 13, 2008.
Roles in The Tailor of Panama and Texas Rangers (both in 2001) followed shortly thereafter, and as the fanged vampire princess in the action film Blade II. After that came Paraíso B and Pas Si Grave.
Varela also had a short recurring role in the Fox Television series Arrested Development as the original Marta. She was nominated for the Ariel Award in 2005 in the category of Best Actress for Innocent Voices (2004). She also had a non-recurring role in Stargate: Atlantis.
Varela is fluent in Spanish, English and French. She is also a marine life activist who is concerned with the welfare of whales. Leonor is also a vegetarian.
Leonor Varela Pictures
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