On June 2, Gal Gadot, a former Miss Israel, will become the first woman to headline a superhero film in more than a decade when she appears as Wonder Woman. Like her comic book alter ego, Gadot is stunning and skyscraper tall, with a gracious, lovely demeanor. Even without her lasso and shield, she looks as though she could save the world.
On the day we met, she was channeling her powers into decorating a cake. (Who would’ve guessed that the actress had such a way with fondant?) “I want to start with a blue cake,” Gadot said definitively, as we entered Duff’s CakeMix, in Los Angeles. She was wearing simple black pants, a navy sweater, and classic black Gucci loafers.
Although she was six-months pregnant with her second child, the baby bump was nearly undetectable. Gadot, who has a doelike quality, wasn’t wearing makeup and her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail. “You couldn’t have invented a more perfect Wonder Woman than Gal,” Patty Jenkins, the film’s director, told me later.
“It sounds strange, but Gal is so clean—so pure—but it’s not for lack of wisdom or information. Like Wonder Woman, she is beautiful, kind, and strong. It’s a choice to stay so spiritually clean. Gal instinctively understands that choice.”
At CakeMix, customers pick out a round cake from a rainbow of prefrosted (but plain) options, and then are invited to ponder a vast array of decorations. There was a choice of equally colorful packets of icing, sacks of sprinkles in every hue, and glass vials of edible glitter. There was also a daunting assortment of letters, numbers, toys, and all manner of doodads. I felt overwhelmed and weirdly fascinated by the glitter, but Gadot was instantly focused: She chose white and purple fondant, a star-shaped cookie cutter, purple icing for accents, and a baggie full of small gold balls. While I was stuck in a state of confusion, Gadot had a simple, elegant plan.
“I have always been organized,” Gadot said, as we passed a table full of grade school girls who were decorating cupcakes. We sat across from each other—our naked cakes in front of us, yearning for personalization. (Mine was also blue—I was copying Gal, and you would, too).
Gadot began to roll out the fondant on the table. “Growing up in Israel,” she said, “I didn’t know much about Wonder Woman. But it’s like Superman—a household name.” For those who are not comic book aficionados: Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince, was sculpted from clay and brought to life by Zeus. In the film, set during World War I, she joins the Allied forces, believing it’s her duty to fight for love and justice. Unlike Batman, Wonder Woman is not consumed by existential angst. She is a warrior who believes that with the help of her magical bullet-defying bracelets and lasso, goodness will triumph over evil.
It was a difficult part to get. Gadot’s first appearance as Wonder Woman was in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. She was the best thing in what was otherwise a bloated and dull superhero extravaganza. Gadot, 32, had not set out to become a comic book legend—or even an actress, for that matter. After she was crowned Miss Israel in 2004, a casting director asked her to audition for the role of the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace.
“I said, ‘No way,’ ” Gadot recalled, as she placed stars around her cake. “I said, ‘I’m studying law and international relations. I’m way too serious and smart to be an actress, and besides, the script is all in English.’ I spoke English, but I wasn’t comfortable with it.”
Eventually, she came around to the idea, and while she didn’t become 007’s latest squeeze (the part went to the Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko), Gadot ended up joining the cast of Fast and Furious, an extremely successful franchise about competing daredevil drivers.
“When I auditioned for Batman v Superman, I didn’t know it was for Wonder Woman,” Gadot continued. “The director, Zack Snyder, asked me to do a camera test. That was torture. They were looking at six or seven girls, and we were all in separate trailers and were told to stay inside until they called us. Waiting is my enemy Number One, and I was losing my mind. So, I decided to put on Beyoncé.” Gadot smiled. “Who runs the world? Girls! I just started to dance, and I let my anxiety go. Thank you, Beyoncé!”
When Gadot was chosen for the role, there was outcry in the online universe. “ ’Cause my boobs were too small,” Gadot told me. “Yeah—that was a big problem,” she added, laughing. “The Web really paid attention to the important side of Wonder Woman.”
What the Web didn’t seem to notice was that in an increasingly divisive world, a heroine like Wonder Woman just might be what this country needs. Which is exactly what Jenkins thought. “Trump or no Trump,” she said, “Wonder Woman stands for beauty, truth, love, and goodness. She understands that finding the truth is complicated, but she will always be kind. There’s something very reassuring about that, especially now.”
Jenkins and Gadot have become very close: Their husbands are friends, and Alma, Gadot’s 5-year-old daughter, hangs out with Jenkins’s son. Although she has a home in Israel, where her parents live, Gadot and her husband, Yaron Versano, a real estate developer, recently bought a house in Los Angeles and have enrolled Alma in school. “I’m going to have the baby here,” Gadot noted, as she arranged gold balls in a triangle on top of the cake (her daughter Maya was born in late March).
She said that she plans to take her newborn on a world tour to promote Wonder Woman. “I found out I was pregnant while shooting Justice League. I had terrible migraines. I would show up in dark glasses, and they all thought I was going Hollywood, but I was only pregnant.”
Gadot paused to study her cake.
“Should I add something?” she wondered aloud. Unlike my creation, which had a motley assemblage of fondant flowers and edible pearls (I never figured out the glitter), Gadot’s looked perfect. “It’s a superhero cake,” she said happily. “Wonder Woman would be proud.”