‘Won­der’s’ war­rior women

The movie’s Ama­zons talk bat­tles, ar­mor, and work­ing on a mostly fe­male set.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Mered­ith Wo­erner

Won­der Woman may be the star of Warner Bros.’ block­buster hope­ful this week­end, but she did not get there on her own. This char­ac­ter’s iconic com­bi­na­tion of jus­tice, hope, love and se­ri­ous com­bat moves comes from be­ing raised on The­myscira, a fan­tasy is­land of war­rior women called the Ama­zons.

To make that is­land and its in­hab­i­tants feel pos­si­ble, the stu­dio en­listed some real-world war­riors, in­clud­ing pro­fes­sional fighter Madeleine Vall Bei­jner, CrossFit cham­pion Brooke Ence and multi-ti­tle-hold­ing pro­fes­sional boxer Anne Wolfe.

But the lead ac­tors are equally fe­ro­cious. Robin Wright plays the no-non­sense Gen­eral An­tiope, deadly with a sword and ca­pa­ble of shoot­ing not one but three ar­rows

at a time. Wear­ing the crown (and all the furs) of Queen Hip­polyta is Con­nie Nielsen, and of course there is the youngest fighter of the clan, Gal Gadot, our new­est Won­der Woman.

We brought th­ese three to­gether for an Ama­zo­nian coun­cil to talk about bal­let­style bat­tle moves, leather ar­mor and what it’s like to work on a set made up mostly of women.

You spent a lot of time film­ing to­gether on lo­ca­tion. Did you form a bond? Did you feel like the Ama­zons when you were film­ing? Nielsen: I ab­so­lutely did. Wright: It was amaz­ing, right? It was over 120 women.

Gadot: It was like one big cel­e­bra­tion of women. The amaz­ing thing about it is that all of us got along re­ally, re­ally, re­ally well. We were all so happy for each other. I saw her take, I was like, ‘This was so good, Robin!’ Nielsen: A lot of sup­port. Gadot: There was so much sup­port and love. And it wasn’t fake.

Wright: It was like be­ing on a pro­fes­sional foot­ball team … Nielsen: Of ladies. Gadot: Ex­actly. So there’s no envy. No ten­sion.

Nielsen: And then we got to work out to­gether as well. We got to do all of that train­ing to­gether as well.

Wright: So much eas­ier than go­ing in the gym alone.

What did it feel like to be on a set where women were the ma­jor­ity?

Nielsen: It was the op­po­site world. It was the men who were stand­ing up by the park with the kids while we were down on the beach with the horses and the swords.

Gadot: It was a new-age kind of era. All of our hus­bands were walk­ing around with the strollers while we were work­ing on the beach.

Nielsen: But it was also sort of a re­ally kid-friendly place, we did sit and talk about our kids. We all brought our kids to set and it was just sort of a free­wheel­ing, very re­laxed set.

Gadot: Yeah, we should do a movie like that again.

How of­ten are you of­fered a part like this in Hol­ly­wood? You get to play an Ama­zo­nian queen or a gen­eral or Won­der Woman? How of­ten do you see a role like this come along? Gadot: Never. Nielsen: Never. Wright: Never. Nielsen: What’s re­ally amaz­ing is the way in which it’s just com­pletely nat­u­ral through­out the film. They don’t make a big deal out of it. It just is. That’s what I think is dif­fer­ent. We’re not try­ing to high­light it or raise the stakes for it. We just ac­cept that author­ity.

Wright: It’s a uni­sex, no­madic tribe that they were born to fight to pro­tect, yes, The­myscira and this cul­ture, but also to bring what your char­ac­ter brings to the the­matic mes­sage, which is let’s just build a fu­ture of hu­man good­ness. Let’s bring it back into the world.

Gadot: Once you don’t give at­ten­tion to the gen­der thing, and you don’t talk about the fact that there’s strong women, it’s a non­is­sue.

Nielsen: That’s one of my fa­vorite things.

Gadot: When Diana comes to the real world she’s com­pletely obliv­i­ous about gen­der and so­ci­ety rules, that women are not equal to men. That’s the way to show it be­cause, hon­estly, at the end of the day we’re all equal souls in this uni­verse. And it doesn’t mat­ter if we’re men or women.

Nielsen: I think the way Gal plays the scene, when she walks into the room full of gen­er­als, as if she’s ab­so­lutely un­aware that it could be any other way, that she has the right to be there. I think if you re­ally want to say some­thing to your chil­dren it’s that all of us, every­one de­serves to be in that room.

Talk more about the beach fight scene. Was that dif­fi­cult to film or fun?

Wright: It was in­cred­i­ble.

Nielsen: It was phys­i­cally hard to do those scenes over and over again in the sand. But it was in­cred­i­ble.

Wright: But then we’d al­ways scream, “Can I get an­other take? No, I can do it bet­ter. I know I can wield my sword bet­ter.”

It was so great to see Gen­eral An­tiope flip­ping over at­tack­ers and shoot­ing ar­rows at bad guys. What was it like watch­ing those scenes when the film was done?

Gadot: I’ve never in my life seen a scene that is packed with beau­ti­ful, strong women that are just fight­ing to­gether in such a beau­ti­ful har­mony do­ing crazy, badass things. I’ve never in my life seen any­thing like that.

Wright: Yeah, it was a bal­let.

Nielsen: It was al­most like it was a new par­a­digm for ac­tion scenes. It’s not some kind of fe­male ver­sion of a male ac­tion scene. It is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent thing. And that’s what I think is amaz­ing; it’s re­ally, re­ally well-suited for women.

Wright: De­signed for the way we move. We don’t move like men.

What did you think of The­myscira?

Nielsen: We were in real lo­ca­tions that were re­ally beau­ti­ful — yes, [they] were height­ened by CGI, but they were un­be­liev­ably beau­ti­ful, th­ese sets.

Wright: We were in one of the old­est cities in Italy, Mat­era, I think it’s 9,000 years old.

Gadot: And you walk around and you ac­tu­ally see pea­cocks, it’s in­sane. It was mag­i­cal.

Does that make you feel im­mor­tal? Your char­ac­ters have lived for years and years. How did be­ing in­side an old city in­form you as an ac­tress?

Gadot: It com­ple­ments our per­for­mance. In Mat­era, you feel like you’re back in the [old] days. I felt like I was in Jerusalem. I think that it was very im­por­tant for Patty [Jenk­ins] that we shoot in real lo­ca­tions.

Nielsen: But also shoot­ing on 35 mm you get that height­ened ex­pe­ri­ence and it’s very un­usual for this type of film, it feels an­chored in a re­al­ity.

Wright: I mean, imag­ine shoot­ing all of those se­quences in a room like this with a green back­drop. We got to be in the real place. And feel­ing the el­e­ments. Be­ing out­side and it was cold, freez­ing cold in the morn­ings in our lit­tle leather miniskirts.

Nielsen: And then by 3 o’ clock we were dy­ing and wear­ing corsets.

What was it like the first time you tried on your cos­tume?

Nielsen: I think that there’s some­thing about be­ing strapped into ar­mor. Wright: Leather. Nielsen: It does kind of like do some­thing. And there’s that fact of hold­ing a sword in your hand. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it made me feel re­ally pow­er­ful.

Wright: Mrs. Ex­cal­ibur.

The film only briefly touches on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Queen Hip­polyta and Diana. Are we go­ing to see more of that in the fu­ture?

Gadot: Of course; the mother and daugh­ter re­la­tion­ship is al­ways a beau­ti­ful but com­plex re­la­tion­ship. I think that there’s a lot more to ex­plore.

Nielsen: And [Wright and I] got to do more in “Jus­tice League” as well. As sis­ters as well. We can’t say much, but ...

Wright: And more of the story, you get some of the his­tory.

A lot of peo­ple grew up lov­ing Won­der Woman. Was she big in Den­mark, Con­nie? Was she big for the rest of you?

Nielsen: I knew very lit­tle about Won­der Woman. I’d seen a few pic­tures when I moved here, but I knew very lit­tle and in a way that was why it was such an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause I was dis­cov­er­ing so much while I was do­ing it.

Gadot: I feel the same way be­cause I knew of her, but I didn’t know much about her.

And now you are her.

Gadot: Who would be­lieve?

Allen J. Sch­aben Los An­ge­les Times

CON­NIE NIELSEN, left, Gal Gadot and Robin Wright say an easy bond de­vel­oped among the three dur­ing film­ing.

Clay Enos Warner Bros. En­ter­tain­ment

GAL GADOT, left, gets di­rec­tion from film­maker Patty Jenk­ins on the “Won­der Woman” set, where women made up the ma­jor­ity.

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