Leonor Varela

A sultry, dark-haired beauty, Leonor Varela was a virtual unknown in the USA when she was tapped for the lead in the lavish ABC miniseries "Cleopatra" (1999). The Chilean-born actress had a peripatetic childhood; her parents fled the military regime in her native country when she was a baby and settled first in Costa Rica, before moving to Germany, the USA (Colorado) and France. Varela opted to remain in Paris to pursue an education when her parents returned to Santiago in the early 1990s. Her dentist recommended her to a French filmmaker, who was about to shoot a film in Chile. After meeting him, he specifically created a role for the stunningly attractive performer which in turn led to her casting in the Chilean TV series "Tic Tac," opposite Latin heartthrob Enrique Cintolesi. Varela then was tapped for a tiny role in the remake of "The Man in the Iron Mask" (1998), starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Continuing her quick ascent, she then landed the part of Cleopatra. While most critics found the production visually stunning, they were divided over Varela's contributions; some felt she was too limited an actress to pull off the role while others found her perfectly cast. The one constant was that all were impressed by her exotic looks and sexy screen presence. She returned to the big screen in her largest role to date in the revisionist Western "Texas Rangers" (2001). That film's release, however, was delayed nearly two years and in the interim, Varela graced the small screen as Judith in the biblical drama "Jeremiah" (PAX, 2000) and was seen on the big screen supporting Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush in "The Tailor of Panama" (2000).