What a Gal

More than 75 years af­ter she made her de­but in the comics, Won­der Wo­man fi­nally gets her own movie. Play­ing the role of the Ama­zon war­rior is the ar­rest­ingly beau­ti­ful Gal Gadot.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Front Page - en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my Sto­ries by GOR­DON KHO

GAL Gadot doesn’t only play Won­der Wo­man on screen, she is, truly, a won­der wo­man off screen too. The ac­tress threw her back re­cently and is in pain. She walks slowly, but grace­fully, to our in­ter­view – at a movie stu­dio in Los An­ge­les. She doesn’t sit though – be­cause it ag­gra­vates her back – so she stands through­out the 30-minute in­ter­view.

But Gadot is in good spir­its de­spite the dis­com­fort. What is there not to be happy about? She’s star­ring in her first lead role in a Hol­ly­wood fea­ture ... and play­ing the most pow­er­ful wo­man in the comic uni­verse, no less.

Gadot’s Won­der Wo­man was first in­tro­duced in the much-panned Bat­man V Su­per­man: Dawn Of Jus­tice last year. And ever since fans caught a glimpse of the stat­uesque su­per­hero, they have been fever­ishly wait­ing for the stand-alone Won­der Wo­man

film. Will it help el­e­vate the DC cin­e­matic uni­verse which has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing one dis­as­ter af­ter another (here’s look­ing at you Sui­cide Squad)? So, all eyes are on Won­der Wo­man.

No pres­sure there, Gal Gadot.

Not un­like her char­ac­ter, Gadot is wear­ing a fig­ure hug­ging en­sem­ble to­day. She looks su­per chic in a Wol­ford sleeve­less turtle­neck tucked into a high-waisted Lan­vin pants. The look is com­pleted with low-heeled Chris­tian Loboutins.

Get­ting Won­der Wo­man, the film, off the ground was a long process. The idea was mooted some 21 years ago with dif­fer­ent di­rec­tors con­sid­ered. But when it came to fruition, Patty Jenk­ins was hired to helm the film.

And it seemed like the right fit. Jenk­ins made her di­rec­to­rial fea­ture with Mon­ster

(2003) in which Char­l­ize Theron went on to win a bunch of act­ing awards, in­clud­ing the Os­car for Best Ac­tress. Jenk­ins also di­rected the crit­i­cally-ac­claimed TV se­ries The Killing

(2011), another show with a strong fe­male char­ac­ter.

Gadot knew she was in the right hands with Jenk­ins on board.

“I’m so lucky that Patty was di­rect­ing me. She’s a funny, warm, bril­liant and tal­ented per­son,” Gadot says.

But more im­por­tantly, the ac­tress and di­rec­tor were on the same page where the di­rec­tion of the film was con­cerned.

When she was cast for the role, Gadot was sent two boxes filled with Won­der Wo­man

comics and be­ing the nerd she is (her word, not ours), the 32-year-old ac­tress pored over the ma­te­rial. And then she had a dis­cus­sion with Jenk­ins about the kind of Won­der Wo­man that would be right for this gen­er­a­tion.

“There have been many ver­sions of Won­der Wo­man through­out the years. At the end of the day, when Patty came on board, it was im­por­tant for us to por­tray a Won­der Wo­man that ev­ery­one could re­late to.

“What is the essence of Won­der Wo­man, what does she bring to the ta­ble that oth­ers (su­per­heroes) don’t? And we found that the val­ues we need to keep are love and warmth. She’s also sassy, with an at­ti­tude. We made sure we kept those qual­i­ties that are unique to her,” Gadot of­fers.

Jenk­ins, 45, says of her lead star: “Gal is the most ded­i­cated in­di­vid­ual you’ll ever meet. All she wanted out of this whole prothe cess was to do jus­tice to char­ac­ter. She gen­uinely wanted to em­body the Dianaev­ery­one Won­der Wo­man ex­pects.”

This film ver­sion, set in 1918 at the tail end of World War I, tells the ori­gin story of Diana (Gadot) the only child of Queen Hip­polyta (Connie Nielsen), who lives in a se­cret is­land of The­myscira that’s in­hab­ited by a bunch of Ama­zon women. Diana has been pre­par­ing for com­bat her whole life, trained by her aunt An­tiope (Robin Wright).

When Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) an Amer­i­can spy crashes his plane on The­myscira, he tells Diana of the ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion in the real world, with WWI hap­pen­ing in Europe. Diana, who feels it is her obli­ga­tion and call­ing to pro­tect the weak and help­less, trav­els to

Lon­don with Steve. Diana is de­ter­mined to hunt down

Ares, the God of War she thinks is re­spon­si­ble for the de­struc­tion.

Thus, Won­der Wo­man is born.

“I just think it is strange that this iconic char­ac­ter has been around for 75 years and we have never seen her ori­gin story,” Gadot says.

“Men and boys had Su­per­man, Spi­derMan to look up to. (Girls) didn’t re­ally have strong fig­ure to look up to. Now, fi­nally, we have. But she is not only for girls but for boys as well.

“Ev­ery­one keeps talk­ing about women em­pow­er­ment and you can’t em­power women with­out ed­u­cat­ing men. You need to be in­clu­sive. Be­ing a mother of two, I am thrilled. I hope there will be more and more strong fe­male fig­ures (in films).” An ac­tion-packed film like this meant it was bound to be phys­i­cally ex­haust­ing for the ac­tress, but Gadot came pre­pared, know­ing what it would en­tail to play a fe­male war­rior.

Prepa­ra­tion for the role started six months be­fore the shoot even be­gan. Gadot would spend two hours in the gym, another two hours learn­ing mar­tial arts and then 90 min­utes of horse­back rid­ing.

“It was ex­haust­ing! I feel so much re­spon­si­bil­ity for this char­ac­ter that’s so iconic. And when you por­tray power and strength on screen, you just can’t fake it. You have to be pre­pared. I was mis­er­able when I was prep­ping, but it was to­tally worth it,” she ex­plains.

While she was pre­pared for the phys­i­cal as­pect of the shoot, Gadot was caught un­aware of other prob­lems ... like the weather.

“We shot part of the film in Eng­land, in win­ter, and I had very lit­tle clothes on for some scenes ...” she re­mem­bers and then adds, “And when we shot some scenes in Italy, I stepped on a sea urchin!”

One of the film’s big fight se­quences in­volves an army of Ama­zon women de­fend­ing their is­land from in­trud­ers. That scene, Gadot says, is sig­nif­i­cant to her.

“When I first watched the movie, I thought ‘How crazy is this scene?’ For me at least, it was the first time I’ve seen a big bat­tle se­quence driven by women.

“The film 300 was beau­ti­fully shot, but it had men with six packs. When have you seen (a scene like that) with women? It’s mind-blow­ing.”

Gadot also adds that the vibe on set was of pure love with a ma­jor­ity of the cast mem­bers be­ing fe­male.

“I have worked a lot in male-dom­i­nated en­vi­ron­ments and a big fran­chise, but on this set, the en­ergy we had was in­clu­sive,” Gadot says. “There was a sis­ter­hood kind of vibe on set; no envy, no jeal­ousy. We’d even work­out in the gym to­gether.”

With so much talk on fem­i­nism and fe­male em­pow­er­ment at­tached to this project, Gadot says that Won­der Wo­man is a film that will ap­peal to ev­ery­one re­gard­less of gen­der.

“Ev­ery­thing that Won­der Wo­man stands for will al­ways be rel­e­vant. She’s all about love, jus­tice, truth and com­pas­sion; val­ues that are al­ways rel­e­vant,” she says.

Won­der Wo­man opens at cin­e­mas na­tion­wide to­day. For GSC show­times, turn to P21.

Photo: Warner Bros

Photo: BRIAN BOWEN SMITH/Warner Bros

Gen­eral Erich Lu­den­dorff (Danny Hus­ton) bet­ter keep his hands to him­self if he knows what’s good for him.

Won­der Wo­man feels it’s her duty to pro­tect the weak and the help­less.

Queen Hip­polyta (Nielsen), like any mum, only wants to keep her child safe.

Di­rec­tor Jenk­ins (cen­tre) jok­ing with her ac­tors in be­tween takes on the set of

To pre­pare for the role, Gadot learned horse­back rid­ing for months. — Pho­tos: Warner Bros

Won­der Wo­man.

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