Just as Wonder Woman made her smash debut in 1942’s “Sensation Comics” #1, Gal Gadot is proving in 2016 she’s more than capable of making a big sensation herself playing an Amazing Amazon for the here and now.
Even before the opening weekend of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the buzz is already Olympus-high on Gadot’s performance as the preeminent female superhero of the last three-quarters of a century. Best known on screen for playing the ex-Mossad agent Giselle in the “Fast & Furious” franchise and off-screen as a top fashion model in her home country, the Israeli-born actress’ otherworldly looks and exotically accented speech translate perfectly as a princess of ancient Greece, while her two-year stint as a combat instructor in the Israeli Army informed the physical aptitude and discipline necessary when it came to playing an Amazon Warrior.
With a sword, shield and magic lasso at her disposal, Gadot cuts a mighty swath through the film in an updated yet also antiquity-influenced take on the classic costume, and turns heads with her magnetic command of the screen while in her civilian ensembles. At a recent press conference with her castmates, the actress offered some insight on how she became the first-ever cinematic incarnation of one of the most popular superheroes of all-time.
On her response to the Internet chatter after she was cast:
Gal Gadot: You can’t please them all. For me, being an actress, my responsibility is not to pay too much attention to all the noise around me, but to pay attention to the script, to the director, and protect the character and try to tell her story the best I can. I can only do my best.
On auditioning for the role:
It all began when Warner Bros. wanted to audition me to something — they would not say what. So of course, I was intrigued, and I did the audition and [director] Zack [Snyder] was there, and it was great. And two weeks later, they asked me to do a camera test with Ben [Affleck]. I said, “Great. What’s the role? What’s the part?” My agent told me, “Honestly, they would not say a word, but to expect a phone call from Zack.”
Zack called me the same night, and he was saying, “Well, I’m not sure if you have it in Israel, but did you every hear about Wonder Woman?” I think I went dead for a few good seconds, came back to life, and then I tried to pull off my best [cool, casual] voice saying, “Wonder Woman, yeah, yeah. Wonder Woman…”
And then I did the camera test with Ben, which was great, and Ben is fantastic. Seven weeks later, it was torture: I literally went through seven stages of grief. The first two weeks, I felt good about that, I had a good feeling. Then from then on, I started to be angry. Like, it was bad. But finally, seven weeks later, they called to say that I got the part. That was it. Here we are.
On inhabiting the iconic role:
It’s a huge honor to be the one who got this amazing opportunity to tell such an important story. I feel very, very grateful. No, never in my life, I never planned on being an actress, I never planned on being Wonder Woman. Everything happened and I’m grateful and happy, and I’m in love with what I do.
On the ’70s-era Wonder Woman TV series:
I was too young to watch the Lynda Carter TV show. I was minus-ten! But after they cast me for this role, I did watch a couple of episodes. I think that Lynda Carter was a magnificent Wonder Woman, and it’s certainly big shoes to fit into. But when they cast me for this movie, Zack and everyone had a very clear vision on who Wonder Woman should be, and what’s her story, and how they want to tell it. All I had to do was really give my own notes and input and just embody everything and be her.
On the bigger picture impact of playing the Amazing Amazon:
I have a four-year-old daughter, and she adores princesses. At the same time, she would tell me “The princess, she’s so weak: she falls asleep, the prince will come and save her and kiss her and he’s the hero.” So I’m so happy to be the one who’s going to tell the Wonder Woman story. It’s such an important story to tell, and I’m grateful for it. But I also think that it’s so important for girls — and boys — to have a strong female superhero to look up to. And the more than merrier. There’s plenty of room for many more women to come. I’m very, very happy to be a part of that.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” opens in theaters March 25.