Gal Gadot: 'Acting chose me and I enthusiastically chose it back'
By COLIN COVERT | Star Tribune (Minneapolis) | Published: June 13, 2017
While she’s long been a household name in Israel (she won the Miss Israel pageant in 2004,) Gal Gadot (pronounced “gahl gah-DOTE”) has been comparatively unknown in the United States. “Wonder Woman” should change that.
Gadot, 32, has been climbing the Hollywood ladder since 2009, when she began a four-film tour playing a tough former Mossad agent in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise. Then came bit parts opposite Tom Cruise in the spy comedy “Knight and Day” and Steve Carell in “Date Night.” Her supporting role as Wonder Woman in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” set the stage for her current breakthrough part and prepped her for at least two more appearances in upcoming Justice League sequels.
Talking by phone recently, Gadot said that while she had first expected a career in law, “Acting chose me and I enthusiastically chose it back. I never planned to be an actress. It kind of happened to me - one thing led to the other and I kind of fell in love with acting.”
She had never acted before taking her first film role in “Fast & Furious” at 22. “That’s when I started,” finding inspiration in the work of established film stars. “I love Pen諯pe Cruz. I love, of course, Meryl Streep. I love Charlize Theron.”
Playing Wonder Woman appealed to Gadot because “I love telling stories and being able to be all different things.” And if her career follows a different path than her favorites, so be it.
“I wouldn’t change my life to anyone else’s life,” she said. “I think that everything that happens to me is for a reason. I’m happy for the career that I’m establishing right now. I really enjoy it.”
Playing the lead in any comic book blockbuster promptly makes any actor an international sensation. And this is hardly your typical superhero flick. “Wonder Woman” showcases that rarity, an iconic female superhero, channeling symbolic prestige that could turn Gadot into a feminist role model for the ages (if feminists covet a champion whose work uniform is basically a hip-hugging, skin-baring one-piece swim skirt).
Playing action scenes came naturally, she said. She served two years in the military and “growing up I really loved ’Fight Club.’” Today she lists David Fincher near the top of “filmmakers I admire and would like to work with.”
For decades, female-focused superhero films have had a hard time in Hollywood. Krypton’s favorite flying teenager took a power dive in 1984’s “Supergirl.” Released to mostly negative reviews, it made history as the worst-performing of all the Superman movies and wrecked newcomer Helen Shaver’s career on takeoff. Despite starring actresses who already were well known, Halle Berry’s 2004 “Catwoman” and Jennifer Garner’s 2005 “Elektra” were critical and box office duds.
It wasn’t that audiences would reject a female action heroine who fights with the best of them. Tomb raider Lara Croft, “Charlie’s Angels” and the “Alien” and “Kill Bill” series all performed capably. But somehow spandex tights and superpowers seemed to belong to the traditional hypermasculine superhero.
“For (’Wonder Woman’ director) Patty Jenkins and me, it was very important to keep this character relatable. We realized that this is the most powerful warrior of all time but at the same time she’s very loving, full of compassion and warmth. She can be vulnerable, she can be insecure. She has all these qualities and she’s not afraid to show her imperfections. That makes me feel like I can relate to her. It makes me feel like she’s whole.”
While she has been on a barnstorming publicity tour to promote “Wonder Woman,” the film hasn’t hijacked all of Gadot’s priorities. In late March, she welcomed into the world another little Wonder Woman, giving birth to daughter Maya, joining her husband of seven years, real estate mogul Yaron Versano, and their 5-year-old daughter Alma, whom Gadot takes onto movie sets.
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