RSNG

Exclusive interview

How Gal Gadot Went From The Israeli Army To Wonder Woman

The RSNG Team

Gal Gadot’s latest movie is a change of speed, but that doesn’t mean that she’s entirely abandoned being a badass. The 36-year old is set to return as her superhero alter ego in a sequel to Wonder Woman 1984 but she will appear next in movie theaters in Death On The Nile, the Agatha Christie-penned murder mystery.

Here, she reveals to RSNG what drives her, what it was like to audition for a Bond movie, and the one weapon the Israeli Army neglected to teach her how to use...

RSNG After a movie like Wonder Woman 1984 with all the stunts and action sequences, did you long for a drama or romcom or something more sedate and easier on your body? Was that the thinking behind Death on the Nile? GAL GADOT, ACTOR “Well, luckily you know when you get something from the mind of Kenneth Branagh, it’s going to have all the richness and depth that some other types of movies perhaps do not have.”

“The fact Kenneth was starring in this as well as directing it was a big thing for me as well, so yes, I guess you are right – it definitely felt like the right movie at the right time, even though getting this to a point of even talking about it has taken a very long time indeed.”

RSNG What appealed most about this story? GAL GADOT “Well, I love the superhero genre, the feeling of power and the leaning on fantasy adventure, and I will always want to satisfy that yearning in my movie career and in the roles I take on; but at the same time, I also like the fact there was no need to do extraordinary moves and fight scenes, wear superhero costumes or do a tremendous fitness routine before the filming started. I got to wear some amazing, normal clothes – well, there were outfits that you would expect in a period drama of this nature, and it felt great.”

“I was joking to lots of the other actors and people involved in the film that I found it so much easier, because the only thing that I had to do in the movie was act, haha! There was no need for me to be doing any action scenes in the water or being high up in the air. Nothing like that.”

RSNG Does that make you feel more of an actor, in a way? GAL GADOT “I think that’s a fair question and I know what you mean by it. In a very truthful and honest sense you cannot fall back on or rely on special effects. It’s all you and the people around you, and in many ways you need that reassertion of raw ability in projects every now and again to reconnect you with reality, so I was happy to do that and, I hope, happy to prove that I can still do it!”

RSNG You've been Miss Israel, you've been in the Israeli army, you've gone to have a very successful movie career. Where do you get your drive and ambition from? GAL GADOT “My father and mother encouraged me and my sister to be very independent and strong-minded. They wanted us to be very self-confident and believe that we could accomplish anything in life if we were serious and determined, and worked hard.”

“I also did a lot of sports like volleyball and dodgeball and basketball and learned to be very competitive. It kind of gives you an extra edge where you push yourself harder. All of that helped me when I started living in Los Angeles and you have to be very tough-minded if you want to succeed, especially when a lot of people want to put you in only certain kinds of roles. I had to work very hard to prove myself and avoid playing sexy roles or parts where you're just the "girlfriend" supporting the man.”

RSNG What's interesting about your career is that right when things were beginning to take off for you, you decided to start a family? GAL GADOT “It was the right time for me. I'm so happy to be a mother and being able to experience this beautiful, joyful feeling I have being with her. I'm glad that I had my first daughter in my twenties because I think it’s much easier to raise a child before your career takes off.”

“Many women today believe that they should wait until they've already established themselves in their careers before having children. But I thought it was better for me to have a child sooner rather than later because when you're in your thirties that's probably the time when you're working harder than ever in your job, and that's an even busier time.”

“I had to work very hard to prove myself and avoid playing sexy roles or parts where you're just the "girlfriend" supporting the man”

RSNG Talking about your movie Cleopatra, which is out in 2022, you’ve had to defend calls of ‘white-washing’ from those who feel that the role of Cleopatra should have been played by an Egyptian actress? GAL GADOT “While I understand what people were saying about the concerns that I am not an Egyptian actress, that much is obviously true. But if those who are wanting the true history to be portrayed as accurately as possible know the history, they will recognise that Cleopatra was Macedonian-Greek.”

“Going back to the casting for the movie, we as a group working on the film were wanting to be true and honest to her history and native home. So, we were looking for a Macedonian actress to play the role.”

“Unfortunately, that was not something we could find, and I am such a passionate advocate of Cleopatra and I know so much about her life, and how she ruled Ancient Egypt for 21 years, before she died in August 30 BC.”

“The thing about people is that we are all humans across the world and no matter what our heritage is, we can understand history and learn so much about it. With my understanding of Cleopatra, it’s my belief that she is such an icon of history and I admire her so much.”

RSNG You’ve also written this film, so when you say you have a great understanding of Cleopatra, you have your chance to demonstrate that? GAL GADOT “I hope it will prove that in taking on such a huge task writing a movie about a real-life figure from a long time ago in the world’s history, I have been very serious about it, I have treated the memory and historical truth of Cleopatra with respect and done her justice.”

“It’s a celebration of what an unbelievable person she was. I went with the things I knew about her, the things that have been spoken about her reign and the fact that she was a very clever ruler, a very brave ruler and the fact that a woman could rule a power like Ancient Egypt is amazing. This is my celebration and admiration for that."

RSNG Tell us about when you auditioned for the part of the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace (the part that was played by Olga Kurylenko)? GAL GADOT “Yes. At first, I didn't want to go to the audition. It was being held in London and I told my agent that my English wasn't that good, I wasn't an actress, and there was no way I would get the job. Also, I had just started studying law in Israel and I saw my life in a different way then, but finally my agent kept calling me and persuading me and I decided to go after all.”

“Even though I didn't get the part, the entire experience and process of auditioning and working on my acting made me realize that acting was my next big goal in my life. Acting was something I knew instinctively that I could be good at, and all my friends told me that I should give it a shot.”

“Then three months later I won the part in Fast and Furious 4 and doing those films gave me the chance to show what I could do. I'm sure the work I did in those movies helped me get the role of Wonder Woman because Zack (Snyder) knew that I could play a tough and physically aggressive woman.”

“There are lots of fight scenes and I had to learn to do swordplay as well as martial arts kind of stuff. One thing I want to get better at, though, is the lasso. That's a lot tougher than I thought it would be, haha! The army never trained me for that!”

RSNG Was it hard for you to endure some of the initial criticism of your being chosen to play Wonder Woman? GAL GADOT “That was a long time ago, but yes, people were complaining that my boobs weren't big enough and that I was too skinny. It's the same old story my entire life. But people forget that the real Amazons had only one breast so that it would make archery easier! I don't think that there should be one ideal female form. Women are very diverse and wonderful beings, and it is more important to have a strong sense of self and purpose to be able to go out in life and make the most of it.”

“I don't think that there should be one ideal female form – women are very diverse and wonderful beings”

RSNG What do you think has been the most important factor in your success? GAL GADOT “I think believing in myself has been the key. Also having a lot of ambition and a very positive attitude in life. If you believe in yourself and have the kind of drive to excel at whatever you set out to do, that's going to play a big part in helping you realize your dreams.”

WHAT NEXT? Find out why Dave Grohl says the worst thing you can do is stand still in our exclusive interview.