FEW MERE MORTALS could balance the filming of superhero blockbusters – the upcoming “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” – with being a wife and mother (with a baby on the way). Perhaps that’s why there’s only one Gal Gadot.
Considering her out-of-this-world beauty, simmering, sensual charm and reputation as a martial arts expert, the casting of Israeli sweetheart Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a no-brainer. To everyone except the actress herself that is, who still can’t quite believe her luck.
“It took me a while to get used to the idea. I thank G-d every day that I’ve been given the opportunity to play this character,” reveals the 31-year-old, who established her silver screen credentials as Gisele Yashar in the immensely popular “Fast & Furious” films – the last of which, “Furious 7,” racked up over a billion dollars at the box office.
Making her superhero debut in the box office-breaking (the fourth biggest opening weekend of all time) “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Gadot will step (or fly) out on her own in this year’s standalone and hotly-anticipated “Wonder Woman.” Set long before “Batman v Superman,” in this origin story we see Diana “Princess of the Amazons” leave her sheltered island home, after a handsome American soldier (Chris Pine) washes up on shore and tells her about the devastating world war. “I feel very close to Diana,” says Gadot with a smile. “It’s the first time I have portrayed a character that is just so good and pure and positive. I also come from a very safe and protected background and had a very normal childhood. I was very sheltered.”
Born in Rosh HaAyin, Gadot won the title of “Miss Israel” at the tender age of 19; indeed, she considers herself to be an ‘ambassador’ for Israel, having often extolled the virtues of her compulsory time in the country’s military. It is this combination of beauty, charm and athletic prowess that make the beauty so highly coveted in Hollywood, as there are not many actors who have real army experience. “It gave me a good background and the kind of techniques that are the basis for all martial arts work. You never lose it,” she explains.
Some skills, however, are not taught in the field; to get into “warrior shape” the star spent hours honing her swordplay and practising physical combat. “I had to train very intensively for six months and I worked hard to learn how to handle a sword and a lasso, which were skills the army didn’t teach!” Gadot laughs. “The physical aspect was still very challenging. Before I started shooting ‘Wonder Woman,’ I felt like I was a little girl, looking up to Mount Kilimanjaro and thinking: how on Earth am I going to climb the entire way up? But slowly, surely and with the right team, I did it.”
Filming back-to-back projects has required plenty of travelling and periods working in LA, but Gadot and her husband, Israeli entrepreneur Yaron Varsano, and their six-year-old daughter Alma, still call Tel Aviv home. Family is very much a part of her identity and like all mothers, Gadot sometimes struggles with finding the balance between work and motherhood, but ultimately finds the experience a joy.
“I was thinking about whether I should wait to have children maybe later when my acting career was more settled, but then I thought that if you’re more successful you’re working even more so that wouldn’t be the best time either,” she says, throwing her hands up. “I’m very happy being a mother and as soon as you begin raising your child you feel this incredible love and happiness that is different from anything else you’ve ever experienced.”
Earlier this year, she and Varsano revealed via Instagram that they were expecting their second child. The actress positively glowed at the Golden Globes in January, cradling her burgeoning bump. That she managed to perform in such high-impact films while pregnant is impressive, but then what would one expect from Wonder Woman herself?
Gadot is also very upbeat; when discussing her character’s unrelenting faith in humanity, it is almost as if the Israeli were reading her own mission statement: “Diana Prince can never lose her faith in humankind,” she declares. “If anything, this is her calling. She would never lose hope, she would always have compassion and tolerance to different views and different people, and she will always try to do good and do better.”
Frank Grice is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.