Francisco León Barrios (Andalusian Spanish pronunciation: [fɾaŋˈθih.ko leˈon barˈi.oh]; born 4 October 1974), known as Paco León (/ ˈpa.ko/), is a Spanish actor, producer, director, screenwriter and activist from Seville, Andalusia. Beginning as a comedy performer, he rose to prominence on channel Antena 3 with sketch show Homo Zapping, and in Aída, playing the main character Luisma. He gained more prominence for portraying María José Riquelme in the Netflix series The House of Flowers, and writing, directing, and starring as Manolo in Movistar's Arde Madrid. He is also a prominent campaigner for HIV/AIDS causes.
León in 2018
Francisco León Barrios
4 October 1974
|Spouse(s)||Anna R. Costa|
|Family||María León (sister)|
León's first roles were in comedy television, on Mariquilla Ríe Perlas and Castillos en el aire in 1999. These played on Canal Sur, the channel of Andalusia. León has had success in theatre throughout his career, first appearing on stage in 2001. He moved to Madrid in 2003 to continue his career, where his first big job was impersonating personalities on Homo Zapping, where he was noticed for popular imitations of women like Anne Igartiburu and Raquel Revuelta. He is best known for playing Luisma, a recovering drug addict, on Aída, a role he played for nine years and which garnered him many Best Actor awards.
He has also had notable film roles, as an OCD patient in Toc Toc and a playboy in The Tribe. As a voice and dubbing actor, he has had roles in Valiant and Madagascar, and as a film director, his debut was the 2012 Carmina or Blow Up, for which he was nominated for a Goya as Best Directorial Debut. His mother and sister star in the film, and were both nominated for acting Goyas. His third directorial feature was Kiki, Love to Love, in which he stars and was similarly multi-nominated. For his 2014 film, Carmina y amén, the El Confidencial writer Juan Manuel Fernández suggested that he was becoming "the new Pedro Almodóvar", particularly highlighting the funeral scene that opens Carmina y amén and saying it has "a poetry only comparable to" the opening scene of Volver. Fernández also notes how both León and Almodóvar are influenced by the women in their lives, that they both often work with a sibling, and celebrate their mothers in their films.
In 2018, he created Arde Madrid with wife Anna R. Costa, a black and white miniseries about Ava Gardner, in which he also played Gardner's chauffeur. From 2018 to 2020, he portrayed trans woman María José Riquelme on The House of Flowers. Regarding working on The House of Flowers, León says working with Verónica Castro was an honour.
León's mother is Carmina Barrios. He has one sister, María León, who is also an actress. Both his mother and sister starred as characters based on themselves in the films Carmina or Blow Up (2012) and Carmina y amén (2014), which Paco wrote and directed. María and Paco also play siblings in The House of Flowers. León met the Catalan playwright Anna Rodríguez Costa in 2006 in a play, going on to act in a short she directed later that year; she was also an acting teacher to María. León said that at the time they met, he had a boyfriend, but knew that he wanted to be with her. The couple have been together since 2006 and wrote the screenplay for Arde Madrid together. They have a daughter (born 2010), and Costa's son Eloi (born c. 1994) is León's stepson. Costa also appears in Carmina y amén.
He is openly bisexual, and actively campaigns for HIV/AIDS causes. He has several friends living with the disease and has worked with organisations including Fundación Triángulo, Apoyo Positivo, StopSIDA, and the Fight Against AIDS Foundation since at least 2009, which largely offer support to the LGBT+ community in Spain, as well as fundraising for the work of eminent HIV researcher Bonaventura Clotet. León has said that he became aware of the AIDS epidemic when Rock Hudson died, but has also had a scare personally.
León became the subject of media attention when he promised to tweet a nude photo of himself after gaining one million Twitter followers, which he did in October 2013; he posted a video running naked across a golf course to celebrate a million followers on Instagram in 2019, following this up with more nudes. He is a relatively private person and does not often give press interviews.
- Castillos en el aire (1999) on Canal Sur
- Jet Lag (2000)
- Moncloa, digame on Telecinco, FDF
- Homo Zapping on Antena 3 TV (2003–2005)
- 7 vidas on Telecinco (2004, 2005)
- Aída on Telecinco (2005-2014)
- Planeta Finito on La Sexta (2007)
- Ácaros on Cuatro (2007)
- La peste on Movistar+ (2017)
- The House of Flowers (La Casa de las Flores) on Netflix (2018)
- Arde Madrid (Madrid on Fire), Movistar (2018)
- Amar y Morir en Sevilla, Don Juan Tenorio (2001) by Victor Barrera
- Asalto informatico (2002)
- La vida mancha (2003)
- Recambios (2004)
- La Dama Boba (2006)
- Los mánagers (2006)
- Mediterranean Food (2009)
- Quickie Love Is So (2016)
- Queens (Reinas) (2006)
- 3 Bodas demás (2013)
- Kiki, Love to Love (2016)
- 7 Años (2016)
- Embarazados (2016)
- Toc Toc (2017)
- La tribu (2018)
- La grieta by Enrique López de Haro
- Días rojos (2004)
- Con lengua (2006) by Anna R. Costa
- Espagueti western (2007) (Voice)
- "Repertorio Español | SPAIN arts & culture". www.spainculture.us. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
- "Paco León". Semana (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-17.
- Dulin, Dann (1 October 2019). "Paco León: Advocate". A&U Magazine. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
- "Candidatos Premios Goya 2014". 2014-07-11. Archived from the original on 2014-07-11. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
- Fernández, Juan Manuel (2014-04-27). "Paco León, el nuevo Pedro Almodóvar". El Confidencial (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-17.
- Pontes, Rafa (2 May 2014). "Paco León: "Trabajo desde el placer, tengo muy poco miedo"". elperiodico (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- "El homenaje de Paco León a su mujer, la "madraza" Anna R. Costa: "No sin mis hijos"". divinity (in Spanish). 2019-05-20. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
- "Paco León habla abiertamente sobre su bisexualidad: "Cuando conocí a mi mujer yo tenía novio"". 20 minutos (in Spanish). 18 January 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- "Paco Leon Tweets Nude Picture To Celebrate 1 Million Twitter Followers". The Huffington Post. Oath Inc. 10 February 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
- Campuzano, Ana (2018-05-17). "Paco León corre desnudo por un campo de golf para celebrar el millón de seguidores en Instagram". Semana (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-17.
- "Paco León: lo vuelve hacer, incendia las redes con su desnudo integral". Semana (in Spanish). 2019-03-15. Retrieved 2020-04-17.
- "Paco Leon Filmography". The New York Times. Baselina. All Media Guide, LLC. 28 December 2010. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2010.