…And then there are cult actresses that don’t seem to want undue attraction, don’t run to get in any spotlight, preferring to offer a more reserved side. So much reserved, that any biographical fact is hard to come by, or is as dull as can possibly be. As for any juicy info, well, forget about it. Still, it would be very nice to see more of Talisa Soto, at least on the big screen. Oddly, she makes two or three movies on a row, stops, returns for two or three more, stops… Now that she’s a young mother, will she ever enjoy more starring roles? Will we be able to write something remotely interesting about this fascinating-looking creature?
Miriam Soto was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 27, 1967. She moved to Northampton, Massachusetts with her family when she was five years old, but admittedly retains the Puerto Rican accent of her household. After a return to New York at 15, she began her modeling career, traveling to Europe after learning that her “ethnic” look was not in demand in the USA.
She is perhaps best known as the first Latin model to grace the covers of both the American and British Vogue, with cover photos for the French and British Elle, Glamour, Mademoiselle, Self, Town and Country, and others too numerous to list. Consequently, in 1988, Harper’s Bazaar choose Talisa Soto as one of the best models in the world (alongside 17 lucky young ladies).
Still, she yearned to begin an acting career. Her break came as India, the Puerto Rican girlfriend, in Spike of Bensonhurst. But she attracted more attention in David Lynch’s short film, Cowboy Meets a Frenchman. The next year, she was Bond Girl Lupe Lamora in Licence to Kill, second and last of Timothy Dalton’s portrayals of Agent 007. Sadly, her scenes were much too short, according to many fans. Consequently, she was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world. Talisa turned down an offer to pose for Playboy in conjunction with her turn as a Bond Girl.
Some TV work followed, including the USA network movie Silhouette and the HBO anthology, Prison Stories: Women Behind Bars, in which Soto’s dramatic skills were on display. Although she had supporting parts in the films The Mambo Kings in 1992 and the direct-to-video Hostage, Talisa continued to try her hand at TV in the 1993-94 series Harts of the West (on CBS), for which she was featured as the granddaughter of a Native American owner of the town’s general store.
In 1995, Soto found herself in two high-profile features, first opposite Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando in the popular romantic comedy Don Juan DeMarco and as the 10,000-year old Princess Kitana in Mortal Kombat, based on the popular video game, in which she will forever remain a striking and cool character. She performed her own stunts in it, after learning kick boxing and Filipino stick fighting.
She also returned to her modeling roots posing for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and appearing on its accompanying TV special. Next, she also landed a supporting role in Michael Cimino’s The Sunchaser (1996), starring Woody Harrelson.
The same year, our actress signed a publicity contract for Zales Jewels before making a fun cameo in Spy Hard, where she parodied her Licence to Kill role.
What should have been a high-profile starring role came her way for Vampirella, a movie adaptation of the famous cult comic-book. This project had been in movie limbo for close to 20 years (as Barbara Leigh was supposed to play the gorgeous vampiress in the mid-seventies for Hammer Studios). As it turned out, the very low budget killed any good intentions a potential franchise could enjoy, with lackluster direction by prolific Jim Wynorski and a hard-to-believe performance from The Who’s lead singer Roger Daltrey, portraying Count Dracula as a rock’n’roll idol (?!?!), thusly slicing the ham a bit too thick. But anyone can still admit that Talisa was an ideal casting choice, her exotic beauty perfect for the part (and she wore that outrageously skimpy costume like a real trooper).
In 1997, Talisa reprised Kitana in the sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. She married actor Costas Mandylor, an union that lasted three years. An unforgettable appearance in Marc Anthony’s music video of his hit song I Need to Know was filmed in 1999.
Oddly, Soto stayed out of the limelight for the next couple of years but reemerged in the 2001 film Piñero based on the true story of playwright Miguel Piñero, whose urban poetry is recognized as a pre-cursor to rap and hip-hop culture, and who won the Pulitzer Prize for his Broadway hit, Short Eyes. The film starred Benjamin Bratt (in probably his best role to date), whom Soto secretly married in May of 2002 in San Francisco, causing perhaps the most media attention of her career. She was nominated for an American Latino Media Arts Award for her performance in Piñero.
Also in 2002, she appeared in the much-maligned action film Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, alongside Lucy Liu and her Mambo Kings co-star Antonio Banderas.
The couple currently lives in Los Angeles. Talisa and Benjamin had a baby girl on December 6, 2002 in New York City. Her name is Sophia Rosalinda Bratt. A brother followed in 2005. We can still hope that Talisa will be available in worthy material in the years to come (gee, isn’t this the wish that is expressed in the conclusion of the majority of our Sirens pages?).
1988 Spide of Bensonhurst 1989 Licence to Kill 1992 The Mambo Kings 1994 Hostage 1995 Don Juan DeMarco; Mortal Kombat 1996 The Sunchasers; Spy Hard; Vampirella 1997 The Corporate Ladder; Mortal Kombat: Annihilation; Flypaper 2000 Flight of Fancy; lsle of the Dead; That Summer in L.A.; 2001 Piñero 2002 Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever