On the set of Wonder Woman 1984 in London, Gal Gadot admits to being tired, but she emphasizes that she’s happy. And it shows on her beaming face.
The first Wonder Woman film, released in 2017, grossed over $800 million worldwide. To film the sequel, “We’re working every day, sometimes six days a week. Between the shooting schedule, training, stunt work sometimes and family life, there’s not much time left,” the star says.
“But I am enjoying it,” clarifies Gal. She knows what it’s like to struggle, having almost quit acting, tired of the rejections and disappointments over big roles that she almost bagged but went to other actresses.
The stunning brunette was a popular actress in her native Israel, which she represented in the 2004 Miss Universe pageant when she was only 18. After that, Gal completed her mandatory two-year service in the Israel Defense Forces as a combat fitness trainer. In a yoga retreat/party in the Israeli desert, Gal met Jaron Varsano, a real estate businessman. They bonded instantly and married in 2008.
In Hollywood, Gal seemed to just miss out on big breaks. She was a runner-up, for example, for the part that went to Olga Kurylenko in the Bond film Quantum of Solace. Gal had starred as Gisele in the Fast and Furious movie franchise, but the constant Hollywood auditions that led to nowhere was enough for her to mull returning permanently to her native Israel.
Finally, an audition led to a screen test, and to finally cinching a plum role — that of demigoddess and superhero Diana Prince, AKA Wonder Woman.
Gal Gadot, Jaron Varsano and their daughters, Alma and Maya, live in Los Angeles, where the couple also run a production company. To shoot Wonder Woman 1984, however, she had to uproot her family temporarily and move them to the United Kingdom.
“I love London,” she says. “I feel like I’ve created a nice, comfortable bubble — with my daughter’s school, the area and restaurants we like to go to. But honestly, to be completely blunt, I have no life right now. My life is the movie. I dream about it, seriously. I have different dreams about different people and that’s all I do. So it’s just the movie, being a mother and a wife.”
Patty Jenkins, who is again directing Wonder Woman, has wonderful things to say about Gal: “What I love is that she brings to her character what she is really like. Gal is such a warm, generous, complex, thoughtful person and doesn’t need you to know any of that. She’s so gracious with people, so highly intelligent and worldly even though she doesn’t need people to know that about herself. She’s not about that.”
Patty continues, “She makes people feel good. Every time I watch her with children, it’s like she is down on the floor, figures out some way to make them feel okay about meeting Wonder Woman. It’s a wonderful quality. That shows up in her all the time. But she’s also very funny, smart, brave and works harder, than many actors I’ve seen in this world. And she’s doing all of that in the freezing cold in a Wonder Woman suit, and against some green object or something.”
For the sequel, we know that our DC Comics superheroine, who is a founding member of the Justice League, will have two major adversaries: businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and pal-turned-nemesis Barbara Minerva/Cheetah (Kristen Wiig).
Although Diana’s fighter-pilot boyfriend, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), had presumably died in the first film, somehow he’s back in this sequel. And we also know that, in addition to her usual star-spangled costume, Gal’s fierce Amazonian princess will also wear a winged golden armor that is truly awe-inspiring.
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Why did the writers choose to set the sequel in 1984? “America was at the height of its power and its pride so commercialism, fashion, glamour, music, wealth, even violence — everything is in excess in 1984,” says associate producer Anna Obropta. “It’s a decade of greed and desire. It’s a time of me and more, and humanity is at its best and at its worst. It was a year of lessons learned. Lessons in the film for a goddess warrior and lessons for all of us.”
Q: The first “Wonder Woman” came out in 2017, when women were raising their voices. Looking back, can you talk about that happenstance?
Gal Gadot: It’s a tricky question because I feel that on the first movie — because the filmmaker is a female and the protagonist is a female — it was in the DNA. We didn’t try to show how it should be and we didn’t come as underdogs. We were just serving the story from a very female point of view.
It was very interesting timing. I’m not saying that’s the case but people have approached me and said, “Don’t you think it’s weird that right after Wonder Woman’ or right as it came out, like everything gushed out and people were all of a sudden the beacons of the feminine light and the female voices were out there?”
I think all the clichés are right — empowering and empowered women. It doesn’t have anything to do against men or anything like that.
Q: What’s it like working with Kristen Wiig?
GG: It’s our first time working together. She has a sense of humor and she’s charming. It’s going really great so far.
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Q: How do the 1980s figure in the movie?
GG: The 1980s play almost like another character in the movie. We’ve had many decades but this one is really standing out. As far as politics, fashion, colors and art, the 80s is so rich and it’s definitely going to be present in our movie.
Q: The 80s was also memorable for its New Wave music.
GG: I agree with you 100 percent. I have to say that the 80s was my favorite decade for music by far. I grew up to that music. My dad was listening to all this music with the records and everything.
Q: And the fashion of that era?
GG: The 80s’ fashion is very present in the movie. We had a few scenes that we shot with over 200 extras. We explored every strain of 80s fashion that was there, whether it was punk, funk, rock and roll or just elegant with the big shoulders, hairdos and everything.
Q: But your costume does not reflect the flashy ’80s.
GG: Because Diana doesn’t want to stand out. She’s more about monotony, clean and elegant. She’s not like Madonna back in the ’80s with that fishnet and everything.
Q: Were you into fashion at a young age?
A: I wasn’t a fashionista at all when I was growing up. I was a dancer. Most of the dancers that I know, especially in those ages, were about color, ‘Flashdance,’ flipflops. But I wasn’t into that at all. I started to wear high heels just because my friends did. I was always the tallest one. But around 16, 17, I started to give heels a try but I’m not a big fan of them, either.
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Q: With all your training in martial arts and others for this role and other movies, can you knock someone out in two minutes?
GG: From all the trainings that I have been through for all these types of movies, I don’t know if I could take someone out in two minutes. But the training gave me confidence to feel strong about my abilities and to think that I can. So I might try and then be like, okay, it’s not as easy as I thought it would be.
I was a dancer for so many years. The stunt choreographies are so similar to dancing, in a way. Because it’s all about expressing yourself with the most wonderful tool, your body.
Q: You have two kids and this hit franchise which keeps you busy. How good are you at multi-tasking?
GG: It’s a constant battle. I have friends who are also actresses and mothers. We always ask each other, “How are you going to handle that?” There’s also this guilt that you always feel that you are not enough of a mom when you work and you are not enough of an actress when you are home.
I remember working with Kate Winslet on something. She has three kids from three different dads. I was like, “How do you do that (being a parent and an actress)?” She said, “Honestly, there is no one formula that works for everyone. And every project is different.” She takes it one project at a time. She tries to tackle it and that’s what I do, too. I try to be the best that I can be in whatever I do.
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Q: Would you like to continue playing Wonder Woman?
GG: I am amazed and overwhelmed by the reaction for this character. I would just love to continue that. I feel like there is so much more to explore.
There’s a lot of me in her because I can only act from experience. I know and can imagine and there’s some of her in me. I certainly feel that I am the defender of the character now that we established her with the amazing Patty.
I feel like we have established something that we truly believe in. It was the most profound experience I had for this character. Patty and I realized that this is such an asset of a character. She is the most unique because she is the strongest one, the most powerful one. She is independent, she can fight for rights but she is also kind, loving, vulnerable, open and willing to learn.
The way that Patty managed to conduct the movies and portray this character in a way that everyone can relate to her, is something that I want to keep. Some people look down on this type of movie. I truly believe that every genre is legit, as long as you tell a story that you can stand behind and truly support.