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Glorious Gal

Glorious Gal 01
Glorious Gal01

Gal Gadot could not have found a better role than Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman – one that suited both her feminist spirit and her background as a martial artist and former fitness trainer for the Israeli army. The all-action movie turned out to be a summer smash, exceeding even the most optimistic industry expectations by earning more than $800m at the box-office worldwide. 

Not only was that a remarkable result for a female comic-book heroine, but it also gave Gadot her own standalone film franchise when Warner Bros/DC Entertainment confirmed that a sequel would start shooting in late 2018. A fitting reward for Gadot's critically-acclaimed performance as the ultimate female screen warrior.

Gadot went back into action again as Wonder Woman in the Justice League, in which she teams up with Ben Affleck's Batman in a battle to save the Earth from a cataclysmic new enemy. Needing all the help they can get, the pair recruit fellow superheroes Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the Flash (Ezra Miller) et al, in order to face up to this unprecedented threat. Directed by Zack Snyder, the ensemble cast includes Henry Cavill (Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Jeremy Irons (Alfred), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor) and JK Simmons (Commissioner Gordon).

Glorious Gal 02
Glorious Gal 02

In person, Gadot is extroverted and exuberant. She laughs easily, rarely stops smiling and still seems to be in awe of all the attention that comes with her emergence as a major movie star. 

The 32-year-old still makes Tel Aviv her primary home, which she shares with entrepreneur husband Yaron Versano and their two daughters, Alma, six, and Maya, born in March. Apart from Wonder Woman, Gadot is one of the leading players in the immensely popular Fast & Furious films, the last of which, The Fate of the Furious, is the eighth instalment in the franchise and the most successful yet.

Put simply, Gadot's star has never shone brighter.

Glorious Gal 03
Glorious Gal 03

Q: What is it about playing Wonder Woman that is most important to you in terms of creating a distinct impression with audiences?
A: In addition to the action element to her, it was really critical to show the heart of the character and to have a very specific emotional tone. For me, it was really crucial that everyone would be able to relate to Wonder Woman because at the end of the day she's a goddess and how can we relate to such a being? 

But I think we were able to show audiences that she's a multi-faceted character and a powerful warrior who has her imperfections and can be vulnerable and confused. The fact that she's not afraid to show her flaws is what makes her so special.

Q: How did you adapt your own personality to Diana/Wonder Woman?
A: I wanted to give her a certain amount of innocence, not that it would be a weakness, but show how she is not merely a cold and determined warrior. I didn't want her to be a character that is frightening but someone whom people could identify with. So now people will be able to relate to her better and it's always more interesting to follow a story where audiences are able to invest more personally and emotionally in a character. I'm very touched and grateful for the way people have received me.

Q: What made Wonder Woman special for you?
A: It's the first time that I have shot a mega-movie which at the same time felt so small and intimate. I think we were so lucky to have such a great chemistry with each other, each and every one of us, and with Patty Jenkins [director]. Certainly we had challenges with shooting the movie, like when you shoot on location in London in the middle of winter and you have a very short day and you need to make it work, but everything was easy to overcome because we all had each other for support.

Q: What was it like working with Wonder Woman's female director, Patty Jenkins?
A: First of all, I would say that Patty was the right person for this job, to direct this movie, whether she's a woman or not, she had all the abilities and qualities that this movie needed. But definitely there's a difference working with a female director who's been a young, innocent girl and has grown up to understand that the world is a complicated place, and all of this helped me go through this journey with her. 

Patty is such a talented director, so smart and so passionate. She dived in with us, to each and every scene. We did numerous takes until we had the very perfect, magical one. She's such a perfectionist that she never stopped until it was perfect and it made us all work even harder, and made us all want to be the best for her, knowing who she is.

Q: How did you make the character your own?
A: I think that, as an actress, I bring myself to every character that I play. I feel very close to Diana, to Wonder Woman. It's the first time that I've portrayed a character that is just so good and pure and positive, and that's very inspiring for me as a person and as an actress.

I come from a very safe and protected background and I had a very normal childhood. I was very sheltered. I'm not saying that I went on a similar journey to Wonder Woman but I'm just saying that as a girl I grew up and became more of a complicated person. I love her story and I love the fact that it happens in delay, because usually you grow up slowly over the years. For Diana [Prince], she was very naive and innocent for so long and then, all of a sudden, she got drawn into a scenario that made her understand the world better, and then she grew up.

Q: But how did you make her your own compared to Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman?
A: To be completely honest with you, I didn't think about how to make it my own. What drives me as an actress is: how do I tell her story in the most interesting and original way, and how do I do the best that I can. That's all that I focused on. How do I make her relatable and accessible to people. 

It's very hard to relate to a goddess, so I was looking for her fractions of imperfections; to show her insecurity and to show her lack of confidence sometimes. When I was talking to Patty about the character, both of us felt very strongly that when we show Wonder Woman, she symbolises so many things – she is big for feminists and for everyone. 

She's the strongest, most powerful female character and I didn't want to portray her in a way where she would be a ball-buster, bossy or a know-all, and I wanted people to be able to love her. I think you can love people when you see that they are not perfect, and when you see that they are soft and they are loving and they mean well.

Q: Now that we're going to be seeing Wonder Woman in Justice League, do you think audiences will understand and appreciate her more?
A: Yes. I think that is very important. Wonder Woman is such an iconic figure and she definitely deserved to have an origin story. So I'm happy that we got to explore it. 

We needed to tell her origin story because we didn't establish her history in the first film where she appears (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). Every superhero we know, whether it's Superman, Batman or SpiderMan, they all have their origin story and we always understand where they're coming from and what made them become who they really are.

Q: Can you talk about your Wonder Woman costumes? Do you have a favourite?
A: I have 14 different costumes in this movie so it's hard to choose between the silver and the gold one. None of the costumes are light but they're not too heavy either. I have one costume which is the same as the one I wore in Batman v Superman, although it's a lot more comfortable than the original. Fortunately, I do not have to wear it for long. 

However, when we were preparing for Wonder Woman, I made it clear that I needed to be able to have some oxygen going through my body so I could shoot the movie. So we definitely adjusted the costume, changed the material and made it a bit bigger so that it's not super, super tight – because I wore it every single day and we shot over 117 days and I had to perform in it. So this new version is great – I can even sleep in it. It's like a pyjama now for me! I love the costume, I think it's super strong and sexy at the same time, and I love the way it looks.

Q: How was it working on the green screen with all the special effects?
A: I must tell you that we had a lot of locations on this movie. A lot. The first month-and-a-half was all out on locations in London first and then another month-and-a-half in Italy, so we had approximately one month plus shooting on the stage, which is very unusual on these mega-action sci-fi movies, so it actually felt great.

Q: Did you have to go through a lot of physical training for this role? Obviously there's horseback riding, but what else did you have to learn in preparation?
A: It is what it is. Before I started shooting Wonder Woman, I felt like I was a little girl, looking up to Mount Kilimanjaro and thinking, how the f*** am I going to climb the entire way up. But, slowly but surely, and with the right team, you know, the best people to do it with, I did it. I think the most challenging thing for me actually was the physical work. Even while shooting I had a tent in the studio and every time we had a break I went training, so I was training all the time.

It was very difficult, and when you add to the mix the fact that we shot in England in the middle of winter, wearing not much, that was the biggest challenge that I had on set. I was so cold I could hardly talk.

Q: What was it like being a full-fledged member of the DC movie machine?
A: (Laughs) It's crazy because when I work it's always really important for me to do the best job that I can. But in this case, it was even more important because so many people care so much for this character. You've got to respect that and you have to respect the legacy that this character has. 

We have a great ensemble cast in Justice League... and I had to focus on my responsibility, which was to help tell the story and give it my 100 per cent effort.

Q: Your journey from Miss Israel, serving as a fitness trainer in the Israeli armed forces, to that of a major movie star is an incredible story in its own right
A: My original goal in life was to be a choreographer. I've been dancing since I was 12 years old and later on I received many offers to work as a model, but I almost always turned that work down. I found modelling to be very superficial. 

But then I persuaded myself to take part in the Miss Israel contest and I was totally stunned and completely unprepared when I won. That's when I started accepting modelling jobs. But I also went to university and studied law.

Q: How did you get into acting, then?
A: By accident. My model agent said that a colleague had seen my photo and suggested I should audition to be a Bond Girl. I first said “No”, because I'm not an actress and I didn't speak perfect English. Finally, I decided to do the audition and I was totally fascinated by the process. I didn't get the role [it was in Quantam of Solace and went to Olga Kurylenko], but then I auditioned for an Israeli TV show and was hired for that. Afterwards I got the part in Fast & Furious and ever since I've been living a dream!

Q: You're now the mother of two daughters. How do you feel about motherhood and your life with your husband Yaron?
A: My husband is a great man who supports me fully in everything. He's the best. I love every moment I spend with him and my daughters. He is also a very successful businessman and very involved in that. But even though we are both busy with our work, our family life comes first; I am a very, very happy woman who can hardly wait to come home to my family every time I finish a film.