THE GAL WHO CHANGED HOLLYWOOD
Former SOLDIER. Former BEAUTY QUEEN. Future WONDER WOMAN. Actress GAL GADOT is about to become everyone’s FAVOURITE HERO.
Actress Gal Gadot takes on a superhero role. Photographed by David Roemer.
THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN: THESE ARE THE WORDS
Gloria Steinem used to describe how she felt about Wonder Woman when she was a child in the 1940s looking for a female hero to call her own. As a young feminist in the 1970s, Steinem saw Wonder Woman as a lighthouse for those who felt cornered by traditional gender roles, illuminating equality in a dark age that restricted so much for so many. “She was the only hero that made you feel good about yourself,” Steinem said in a 2012 documentary called Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines. “She gave an idea of justice and compassion and friendship among women...it’s really helpful to be able to think yourself into someone who is powerful.”
Gal Gadot echoes Steinem’s way of thinking while on set during her photo shoot for FASHION. As the Israeli actress gets her hair done in a studio overlooking the Hudson River in New York City, she opens up on being the only actress in history to don Wonder Woman’s armour for the big screen.
“She is the ultimate symbol of strength,” Gadot says of the famed female crusader she will portray in next year’s blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as its two sequels and a solo Wonder Woman film. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d grow up to be in a movie playing someone who influenced as many women as she has,” Gadot says with a subtle Israeli accent. When the casting was first announced, a deluge of Internet cynics questioned Gadot’s fit for the role (Olga Kurylenko and Elodie Yung were among the other rumoured candidates). Some detractors claimed Gadot’s Israeli background should have disqualified her from playing the character, who is often considered an American symbol of freedom. Others stated she was too thin to play the traditionally busty and muscular Wonder Woman. »
Gadot paid little mind to the Internet trolls who challenged her. In fact, none of their criticisms fazed her—she had already experienced negative media attention from the Israeli press as she competed for and won the crown title of Miss Israel in 2004. She told Ynet, an Israeli news site, “After they asked me here, in Israel, if I have eating disorders and why am I so skinny—that my head was too big and my body was like a broomstick—I can take anything. It’s just empty talk.” As for Wonder Woman’s roots, she was always written as a Grecian warrior princess from Paradise Island. And, as Gadot so succinctly points out: “The true Amazons had one boob so it [wouldn’t] bother them with their archery.”
When it comes to prepping for the camera, the 30-yearold is just as thoughtful. Rather than drawing from observations of other people, Gadot maintains a much more internal approach. “I relate to the character,” she says of her acting strategy. “I always think about how I would behave if I were in their shoes.”
For her ongoing Wonder Woman role, her character in Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6, as well as a star turn in Triple 9—an action-packed movie due in theatres in September—Gadot’s past has helped her immensely. At the age of 20, after she won the Miss Universe Israel pageant and started modelling, the Tel Aviv native was required to put in military service time. Gadot went on to lead rigorous bootcamps for high-ranking commanders and sergeants. While most would see the experience as a professional setback of sorts, she looks back on her time spent learning how to handle weapons and prepare for combat with fondness. “It was demanding because you give up your freedom for two years, but there is something special in giving back to your community,” she says. “One day I hope we have peace in the Middle East and everyone is able to live together in harmony. I wish none of the countries in the world will ever need an army, but this is how it goes in Israel. It’s mandatory and I did my part. But the army wasn’t that difficult for me. The military gave me good training for Hollywood.”
Aside from her experience as both a soldier and a beauty queen, Gadot’s life is a world apart from most actresses. When she’s not filming, she returns home to Tel Aviv, where she lives with her husband, an Israeli business tycoon, and Alma, her three-year-old daughter (the couple have no plans to move). By prioritizing family life, Gadot maintains a highly motivated attitude that helps her cope with hectic shooting schedules. “Nowadays being a woman is hard, because we have to be the best wife, best mother, best worker, best everything!” she says, sounding a little exasperated. “But I truly believe we are more empowered. Men are more women-friendly in this generation…. We’re also stronger, sophisticated and can achieve what we want. That’s what I would like my daughter to know.”
Gadot says she learned from the best, listing her mother at the top of her own list of wonder women. Another is Penélope Cruz, whose career trajectory encourages her. “[Penélope] stands up for herself and has something to say—she has her own spice, which I love,” Gadot explains. “She is very courageous and also has an accent, but she just goes with it.”
Like Cruz, Gadot has packed her time with varied projects that will further push the limits of her talent. She is the face of Gucci’s Bamboo fragrance and a campaign model for Castro (Israel’s leading fashion retailer). Gadot also wrapped a comedy called Keeping Up With The Joneses, alongside Jon Hamm and Isla Fisher (she plays a secret agent who comes to wreak havoc on suburbia), and a drama called Criminal, featuring Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Costner.
Gadot cites a scene in the latter film as the most mentally challenging one she’s done to date. She plays a woman who loses her husband and must interact with a dangerous convict in order to help solve a crime. “We had a very heartbreaking scene between my character and [Costner’s]. Both of them were just breaking down barriers. It was very emotional. I was crying all day long.”
Physically, Gadot is also working hard for the money. She has to work out for two, often referring to her Wonder Woman role as a separate person. She also has a Wonder Woman fitness routine dedicated to getting a superhero bod through weight training. On the side, she switches among Pilates, paddle boarding, TRX, yoga and working out with a personal trainer. While most of us would be complaining about the gym time we’d have to put in, Gadot seems to thrive on doing the groundwork.
“Rule number one for me? Come prepared. When I am prepared, I can tackle everything,” she says before her agent reminds her that her plane to Tel Aviv is leaving soon. “If that means pushing myself more, then fine. Isn’t that what being a woman is all about?”
“The ARMY wasn’t that
DIFFICULT for me. The MILITARY gave
me GOOD TRAINING for HOLLYWOOD.”