Who is Leonor Varela?

Leonor Magdalena Varela Palma was born in Santiago, Chile, on 29 December 1972 – her zodiac sign is Capricorn, and she holds Chilean nationality. She’s an actress, film producer and a model, who’s appeared in more than 60 movies and TV series, perhaps still known best for her portrayal of Nyssa in the 2002 hit action science fiction horror movie “Blade II”. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, it starred Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson and Ron Perlman, and follows Blade who has made a deal with the vampires, as they have a mutual enemy: the Reapers. The movie won six of the 16 awards for which it was nominated.

Early life and education

Leonor was raised in both Chile and Paris, France, alongside her sister Alejandra and brothers Gabriel and Javier, by their father Francisco Varela Garcia, the late Chilean biologist, philosopher and cybernetician, and their mother Leonor Palma-Keller, who was a massage therapist.

Leonor and her family fled Chile after the military coup d’état happened in 1973, and settled in Paris; her family returned to Chile in 1981, while Leonor stayed in Paris. She became interested in acting while still attending Niels Arestrup School, and in 1986, Leonor enrolled at L’Ecole du Passage; she was a member of her high school’s drama club, and appeared in plays performed both at the school, and at a local theatre.

Upon matriculating in 1990, Leonor enrolled at Conservatoire Superieur de Paris, from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in acting in 1994.

Roles in TV series

Leonor made her debut TV series appearance in the 1995 episode “Sacrifice” of the romantic adventure drama “Extreme Limite”, and the following year saw her make a guest appearance in the episode “Comportement Modele” of the romantic drama “Sous le Soleil”.

She gained recognition in 1997, when cast to play Pola Santa Maria, one of the main characters in the romantic comedy drama “Tic Tac”; it also starred Enrique Cintolesi and Peggy Cordero, and follows three friends who are living together. Leonor appeared in only three other series in the ‘90s: the drama “A Legend to Ride”, the romantic drama “Le Juste” and the biographical romantic drama “Cleopatra”.

Her following role came in 2003, when she was cast to play Marta Estrella in the hit comedy “Arrested Development”, created by Mitchell Hurwitz, and which starred Jason Bateman, Michael Cera and Portia Rossi. The series follows Michael Bluth who has taken over the family business now that his father has been sent to jail, but his dysfunctional family is making his job very hard; it aired from 2003 to 2019, and won 66 awards, including six Primetime Emmys, while it was nominated for 120 other awards.

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Leonor appeared in only a couple of other TV series in the early 2000s, including the action adventure drama “Stargate: Atlantis”, the action thriller drama “E-Ring” and the romantic drama “Como Ama Una Mujer”.

In 2012, she portrayed Marta Del Sol in seven episodes of the critically acclaimed romantic drama “Dallas”, created by Cynthia Cidre and David Jacobs, and which starred Jesse, Josh Henderson and Jordana Brewster. It follows the cousins Christopher and John Ross Ewing, who are arguing about who will take over the family oil business; the series aired from 2012 to 2014, and was nominated for nine awards.

Two of Leonor’s most recent roles in TV series have been in the 2013 episode “0-8-4” of the action adventure drama “Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D.”m and two episodes of the action crime comedy “Lethal Weapon” in 2018.

Roles in movies

Leonor made her debut film appearance in the 1995 family drama “Pony Trek”, and gained recognition in 1998 when she played Ballroom Beauty in the hit action adventure drama “The Man in the Iron Mask”.

Based on characters created by Alexandre Dumas, it was written and directed by Randall Wallace, starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich, and follows the people who are trying to save The Man in the Iron Mask, who has been imprisoned by his twin brother King Louis XIV; the movie won three of the seven awards for which it was nominated.

By the end of the ‘90s, Leonor had appeared in a couple of popular movies, such as the 1998 historical biographical drama “Jeremiah”, the comedy “Les Parasites” and the  comedy drama “Les Infortunes de la Beaute”, both in 1999.

In 2007, she was cast to star as Angela Diaz in the drama “Where God Left his Shoes”, written and directed by Salvatore Stabile, and which also starred John Leguizamo and David Castro.

Leonor Varela

The movie follows a failed boxer who’s trying to find an apartment to rent on Christmas Eve, and it won two of the five awards for which it was nominated. Some of Leonor’s following roles were in the romantic science fiction drama “Sleep Dealer”, and the action thriller drama “Hell Ride” both in 2008,  and the 2009 sports comedy “Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach”.

In 2013, she portrayed one of the main characters, Odd’s Mother, in the fantasy horror comedy “Odd Thomas”; written and directed by Stephen Sommers, it also starred Anton Yelchin and Ashley Sommers, and follows a cook who’s met a strange man linked to evil supernatural forces.

Three of Leonor’s most recent film roles have been in the 2018 family drama “Saving Flora”, and in 2021 the action adventure “Tell It Like a Woman” and the  romantic thriller drama “American Cherry”.

Other credits

She has been featured in various documentaries, including the 2002 TV special “The 2002 IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards”, the 2002 video “The Blood Pact: Making Blade II” and the 2009 video “The Many Faces of Cleopatra”.

Leonor produced the 2010 action comedy film “Que Pena Tu Vida”.

She received special thanks for the 2011 horror movie “Baby Shower”, and the 2014 drama film “Words with Gods”.

Leonor has made a guest appearance in numerous talk-shows, most recently in “Mas Vale Tarde”, “Podemos Hablar” and “La Divina Comida”.

Awards and nominations

Leonor has won two of the four awards for which she has been nominated: she won a 2003 Arts and Entertainment Critics Award, Chile for Best Actress (Mejor Actriz), and a 2008 Imagen Foundation Award for Best Supporting Actress – Film, for her performance in “Where God Left His Shoes”.

She was also nominated for a 2005 Silver Ariel Award for Best Actress (Mejor Actriz) for “Voces Inocentes”, and a 2018 Southampton International Film Festival Prize for Supporting Actress in a Feature, for her performance in “Saving Flora”.

Husband and children

In 1999, Leonor became engaged to William George ‘Billy’ Zane Jr, after the two had met on the set of the series “Cleopatra”; Billy is an actor and film producer, who has appeared in close to 200 movies and TV series, and is probably still known best for his portrayal of Cal Hockley in the 1997 romantic drama film “Titanic”. Leonor and Billy called the engagement off in 2001.

A decade later in 2011, Leonor began dating the film producer Lucas Akoskin, and the two exchanged vows on 15 April 2013, in a private ceremony attended by only the closest of their friends and family members.

Leonor gave birth to their son Matteo Varela Akoskin on 20 November 2012; regretfully he died on 16 November 2018, after struggling with leukodystrophies for five years. She gave birth to her and Billy’s daughter Luna Mae Akoskin on 25 February 2015.

Leonor hasn’t spoken of any other men whom she has perhaps been with, and as of December 2021, she’s married to Lucas Akoskin, and has a daughter with him.

Hobbies and interesting facts

Leonor is a marine life activist, who’s mostly focused on protecting the well-being of whales; she has volunteered with various organizations, most recently with Save The Whales Again.

She has been a vegetarian for over a decade.

Leonor is passionate about travelling, and her acting career has taken her to various European countries and US states, as well as to a couple of Asian and South American countries; her dream travel destination is Cinque Terre in Italy.

Leonor is quite active on Instagram, and is today followed by close to a million people, while she has uploaded more than 1,500 pictures onto the network; she’s into photography, and some of her pictures have been taken by her.

She’s a huge dog-lover, and her pet dog can be seen featured in a couple of her Instagram pictures and videos.

Leonor is physically highly active, as she often goes hiking and mountain climbing with her husband, while she has a couple of training sessions at the gym every week.

She has her own favorite actors and actresses, some of whom are the late Robin Williams, Ashton Kutcher and Julia Roberts, while a couple of her favorite films include “Good Morning, Vietnam”, “Good Will Hunting” and “Patch Adams”.

Age, height and net worth

Leonor’s age is 48. She has long brown hair and brown eyes, her height is 5ft 7ins (1.7m) and she weighs around 130lbs (60kgs).

As of December 2021, her net worth has been estimated at well over $1 million.

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