Captive Star Leonor Varela on Real-Life Thrillers, David Oyelowo, and Faith


Leonor Varela

Leonor Varela on Real-Life Thrillers

Chilean actress Leonor Varela portrays Sergeant Carmen Sandoval in Captive, a thriller based on a real-life hostage situation. We snagged a conversation with a very busy Leonor. Although there are no spoilers below, read our first article about Captive to better understand this Q&A.

HL: Is there anything different about acting in a film based on real-life, as opposed to an entirely fictitious story?

LV: Yes. It’s easier in a way. It’s very easy to go and see material and know exactly what time it was, so what kind of jeans my cop is going to wear. What period it is, so how was the judicial system at the time, in terms of moods overall in the station. How was the country going economically, what were their budgets–it just gives you such a specificity.

HL: Even though you had a lot to draw from, what parts of yourself did you put into your character?

LV: I have a very keen sense of what’s fair, of justice, of how I feel about people taking advantage of or things done wrongly. I get very, uh, upset. I drew from my sense of necessity of justice or desire to see things be fair.

HL: That makes you smile?

LV: Working with David [Oyelowo] will make me smile from here to eternity. Any time that I would interact with him–on set, off set–was just fantastic, fabulous. I really enjoyed our dinners with his wife. They’re so inspired as human beings and artists.

HL: Did you have a moment to film on set that was particularly interesting to you?

LV: The scene where we get to Brian Nichol’s and Ashley Smith’s house. I remember those days being very consuming and very intense just because of the surroundings and extras and explosions. I remember that very clearly.

HL: Faith features heavily in Captive, as it did in real-life for Ashley. Do you have faith?

LV: Yes, I do. I’ve discovered my spirituality from my upbringing, which is Buddhism. I came to Christianism [sic] later on in my own life as a 14, 15 year-old. I got baptized later by my own desire to do so. I’ve always had a strong sensation and feeling that God existed and there’s a purpose in our lives. That we slowly understand it. We never might achieve it completely. That surrender is a huge part of our lives.

HL: Is there anything about Captive I haven’t mentioned that you would like to say?

LV: A great addition to seeing the movie is reading Ashley’s book. I find whenever you meet these stories–and I say “meet” because it’s like an encounter, it’s not just consuming something quickly–it leaves you with something. Go deeper and grab the book. I like the way the things shape our lives. I like the way these things shape me. They change me.

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