Bond Girl Lupe
“I’m as good as Jean-Claude Van Damme when it comes to martial arts. Sounding a little cocky aren’t I?” Talisa Soto
Highly attractive model-turned-actress Talisa Soto has created a solid modeling career, including appearance on the covers of such fashion industry publications as Glamour, Vogue and Mademoiselle, before gaining notice as Lupe Lamora in the James Bond film License to Kill (1989), in which the 1989 Sho West Female Star of Tomorrow becomes the only Latina actress ever to portray a Bond Girl in the entire James Bond film franchise. The ultra sexy performer continued to make an impact with the Johnny Depp vehicle Don Juan DeMarco (1995), and is perhaps most famous for her role as Princess Kitana in the Mortal Kombat flicks (1995, 1997 and 2003).
Off camera, the American top model was voted one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the world” in 1990, and measures 36B-26-36 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine). She has had two marriages in her life. She was married to Australian actor Costas Mandylor from 1997 until 2000, and earned probably the best media attention for marrying her Piñero co-star, actor Benjamin Bratt, in 2002. Soto now resides in a lovely house in Los Angeles, along with her husband, Bratt, and their two children.
Childhood and Family:
On March 27, 1967, Miriam Soto, later popular as Talisa Soto, was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Puerto Rican family. Her parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York in the 1950s, and later relocated to Northampton, Massachusetts when Talisa was a young. Being one of the very few Puerto Rican families in city, Talisa felt that people discriminated her and she became an outsider during her school days. Talisa tried her luck in modeling as a teenager, and later branched out to acting following a return to the USA after some gigs in Europe.
In May 1997, she married ex-Picket Fences star, Aussie actor Costas Mandylor (born on September 3, 1965), but the pair divorced in 2000. She met actor Benjamin Bratt while filming the 2001 Piñero, and the two subsequently became affectionately involved. The couple exchanged their wedding vows in San Francisco, on April 13, 2002. Their first child, daughter Sophia Rosalinda, was born on December 6, 2002, in New York, and their second child, son Mateo Bravery, was born on October 3, 2005, in Los Angeles.
15-year-old, New York-born of Puerto Rico descent Talisa Soto started modeling and did her early assignment for LEI Magazine in Italy. After three years, she tried to sign up with the Ford and Elite modeling agencies, but was declined due to her “too” Latina looked. Undaunted, she was soon found herself working with Click Model Management and moved to Europe to work in Italy and France. She was an immediate hit, appearing on the covers of top fashion magazines like Vogue, Glamour, Mademoiselle, and Self. She became one of the top models of the 1980s. Despite a flourishing modeling career, Soto yearned to act.
Following a 1988 return to the United States, Soto auditioned and won the supporting role of India in the comedy film Spike of Bensonhurst, which starred Sasha Mitchell and Ernest Borgnine. A relatively new comer on movies, she received much boost in the following year when director John Glen cast her as Bond Girl Lupe Lamora in License to Kill, starring Timothy Dalton as 007. She followed it up by making TV movie debut in the USA Network Silhouette (1990), and appearing in the HBO anthology Prison Stories: Women on the Inside the next year. Her subsequent big screen excursion was 1992’s The Mambo Kings, playing Maria Rivera. In 1993, after a costarring role opposite Sam Neill in the direct-to-video-release Hostage (1993), Soto was cast as a regular for the first time in the short-lived CBS series “Harts of the West,” starring Lloyd and Beau Bridges. She stayed with the show until it came to an end a year later.
Returning to filmmaking in 1995, Soto hit the big time as she landed roles in two glittering features. In the Jeremy Leven-helmed comedy/romance Don Juan DeMarco, she was cast as Dona Julia, opposite superstar Johnny Depp who portrayed the title character and the legendary actor Marlon Brando as Dr. Jack Mickler. She gained even more recognition with her role of Princess Kitana, the “secret weapon,” in the fantasy film Mortal Kombat, starring Christopher Lambert. The same year, she further increased her profile by appearing as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.
Soto then had a title role in Vampirella (1996, aired on Showtime as part of “Roger Corman Presents”) and was additionally featured in films Spy Hard (1996, as Seductress in Hotel Room), and The Sunchaser (1996, as Navajo Woman). In 1997, she reprised her role of Princess Kitana for the sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, in addition to appearances in the smaller movies Flypaper (with Lucy Liu and Sadie Frost) and The Corporate Ladder (opposite Robert R. Shafer and Kathleen Kinmont).
For the next few years, Soto withdrew from the screen and did not resurface on another film until 2000’s That Summer in LA, in which she played the lead of Marisabel. She has since starred in director Noel Quiñones’ Flight of Fancy (2000), the horror/thriller Island of the Dead (2000, along side Bruce Ramsay and Malcolm McDowell), the biopic film Piñero (2001, starred Benjamin Bratt) and the Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu starring vehicle Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002). In 2003, Soto returned to Mortal Kombat franchise after a six-year hiatus in Mortal Kombat 3: Domination.
- ShoWest Convention: ShoWest Award - Female Star of Tomorrow, 1989