Leonor Varela was born on December 29, 1972 in Santiago de Chile, Chile, the daughter of Leonor Palma, a massage therapist, and Francisco Varela (Francisco Javier Varela Garcia), a biologist, neuroscientist, and philosopher. Her family fled to Costa Rica, leaving behind the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. They subsequently resided in Germany, USA, and France, where Varela studied.
In the ’90s she appears in the Chilean soap Tic Tac (1997), and in other French and Europeans productions like Pony Trek (1995), Sous le soleil (1996), Shooting Stars (1997), A Legend to Ride (1997), Le juste (1996), or Bouge! (1997). Her career in Holywood began in 1998, when she joined the cast of The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) when she starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, and she appeared in Jeremiah (1998) opposite Patrick Dempsey. The following year (1999), she played the title character in the ABC TV movie “Cleopatra” (1999) (TV) opposite her future fiancé Billy Zane and Timothy Dalton
She appeared in The Tailor of Panama (2001) as Marta and in Texas Rangers (2001) as Perdita opposite Ashton Kutcher. In 2002 she appeared as the fanged vampire princess Nyssa in the action film Blade II (2002) opposite Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson and directed by Guillermo del Toro. After that came Paraíso B (2002) as Gloria and in Pas si grave (2003) as Angela.
Varela also had a short recurring role in the Fox Television show Arrested Development (2003) 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 (2004).
In 2005 she appeared playing Adela in Americano (2005), and her following projects included Goal II: Living the Dream (2007) as the journalist Jordana Garcia, Where God Left His Shoes (2007) with John Leguizamo and the TV series produced by Jennifer Lopez Como ama una mujer (2007).
In the 2008 Sundance Film Festival she screened Sleep Dealer (2008) and the Larry Bishop’s Hell Ride (2008), opposite Michael Madsen and Eric Balfour and produced by Quentin Tarantino.
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