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Gal Gadot reveals the infinite potential of women

Gal Gadot reveals the infinite potential of women

Gaining fame in 2017 with “Wonder Woman”, Gal Gadot has since become synonymous with action movies, controlling all kinds of invincible female characters in front of the screen. In her next starring and co-producer action film, Heartbreaker, Gal Gadot once again showcases the potential of women on screen as CIA agent Rachel Stone.
“I’m a fan of The Odds and James Bond movies!” Gal Gadot shared. “As a woman, I’ve never had the opportunity to be in this type of movie. I’ve been thinking, why can’t I be in Femininity in these films?” And so Rachel Stone was born, as powerful and alert as she is authentic and compassionate, like Gal Gadot herself. She traveled all the way from Israel to Hollywood, amazed the world with “Wonder Woman”, but never stopped because of it. Today, she’s an accomplished actress, producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and mother of three—Gal Gadot’s amazing life as a protagonist is just beginning.

“VOGUE” HK: Looking back on your acting career, you have played many strong girls, including Wonder Woman, Heidi Rama, and the Queen of Egypt who will soon appear on the big screen. How important are these roles to you? What do you hope the audience will gain after watching it?
Gal Gadot: Good question! It’s interesting to say that it must be luck that I have been able to play extremely powerful and ruthless characters many times. As a fan of action movies, I have always wanted to participate in movies like “Heart Attack”. I am a fan of the “Mission Service” and “007” series, but I have never been able to act in them. After all, there are not many female roles in such films, so opportunities are naturally rare. I often wonder, is there room in the industry for action movies with female protagonists? It wasn’t until “Wonder Woman” was released that it received rave reviews that I regained my confidence. This movie is an example — who said men don’t like to watch actresses play the role? They are not welcome at all! As long as the plot is exciting and the action is excellent, they can’t wait for it. After “Wonder Woman” was painted, my husband and production company partner Yarron and I met with David Ellison, CEO of Skydance Media. The three of us had a good chat, and at the end of the meeting, David asked me what kind of movie I wanted to make , I answered that I wanted to make an action movie with a female focus, be exciting, all-encompassing, and have everything you need. The two of us shook hands in the end, and “Heart Attack” was born accordingly. I am really grateful to have such good partners as David, Skydance and Netflix. The whole process is wonderful.

“VOGUE” HK: You are very familiar with action scenes. You played Rachel Stone in “Heartbreaker”, no doubt with fast and accurate shots, and escaped from death many times. How were these thrilling scenes filmed? Which part was your favourite?
Gal Gadot: I learned to dance since I was a child, and found that fighting scenes and dancing are actually the same, they are a series of choreography, very fun! You dance your body while your mind keeps turning, which makes me deeply intoxicated. It takes a lot of professionals to shoot martial arts scenes, and the shots are spectacular and stylish. I was able to rely on a great team of stand-ins, assisted by a second set of directors and stunt coordinators. These stuntwomen have accompanied me all over the world and nothing would be possible without them! As long as the team allows, I will try my best to complete the action myself. To perform the movements well, it is not enough to rely solely on the choreography of the movements. The motivation behind it must be clearly understood, so it is very important to take part in the battle in person, which helps to grasp all aspects thoroughly. I enjoy shooting action scenes and I am lucky to have a professional team around me. People are the most important thing. People have always been the most important thing in doing things, and they are applicable to all industries.

“VOGUE” HK: You have three daughters now, has your outlook on life changed because of this? What did you learn from your daughter?
Gal Gadot: I became a mother 11 years ago, and if I say the biggest thing I have learned, is to learn not to think about everything but myself. I’m not the most important person in the world, the kids are. This mindset is actually beneficial, allowing you to see things in a new light. You love people like never before, they become my everything and I would do anything for them. They also taught me a lot. For example, they taught me to keep going forward, even if I was exhausted and stayed up all night, I still had to grit my teeth and finish the morning shoot. They made me realize that I can do more than I thought possible. I still remember a time when I was studying law, but I wanted to continue acting, and my husband Jaron fully supported me to pursue my dream. As long as you do what you think, you are setting an example for your children. After all, the best education is not by words, but by example. And what I really wanted to do at the time was act. The more you can control yourself, the more you can become a role model for your children.

“VOGUE” HK: Among your characters, Diana in “Wonder Woman” is compassionate and courageous, Sarah Black in “Red Notice” is trick-or-treating, and the bad queen in “Snow White” is vicious. These characters are very different from each other. Did you deliberately enter the play in a different way? Which character is the most fun?
Gal Gadot: I don’t have a particular preference, but it’s a lot of fun playing the bad queen. Things are naturally much more interesting because they come from a fairy tale. She’s the first Disney villain, and the movie is a musical, and I was able to exaggerate it and make the character more dramatic and interesting, which is amazing. I even changed my voice to do something different. It was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see the finished product and hear how the audience feels about the ending.

VOGUE HK: You will play the Queen of Egypt in an upcoming historical biopic. Is there anything you can share about the character and the film?
Gal Gadot: Israel borders Egypt, so I have heard many stories about the Egyptian queen since I was a child, and it is not an exaggeration to say that she is a household name. You know, if Wonder Woman is a fictional strong woman, then the Queen of Egypt is a living example. Her life was exactly the story I wanted to tell, and I started reading different books about the Queen of Egypt, and I couldn’t help saying to myself, “This is wonderful!” The Queen of Egypt in the movie is often a woman who has an affair with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony A charming woman, but in fact, she has many facets, this woman is too avant-garde! Even with modern eyes, ancient and modern Egypt is still advanced. I can’t reveal too much right now, other than to say that I am very eager to tell her story, and applaud her for bringing this character and legacy to life. The screenplay is brilliant, and I can’t wait to share it with the world, disproving the myth that “Egyptian queens are just flirtatious women.”

“VOGUE” HK: Who is your Wonder Woman? Who is the person you most admire?
Gal Gadot: My mom, I know it sounds bureaucratic, but she’s really strong as a mother and taught us to be grateful. As long as you are grateful, you will become very happy, because you know how to be content. She taught us to be grateful for everything and to be bold. She planted the seeds of self-confidence and self-reliance in my sister and me. She is a true Wonder Woman and a good person.

Gal Gadot Interview with S Moda for El Pais

Gal Gadot Interview with S Moda for El Pais

After conquering the box office and inspiring an entire generation with ‘Wonder Woman’, Gal Gadot shows off her superpowers behind the camera as well to play the characters she’s always dreamed of. The spy thriller ‘Heart of Stone’ is the first—and adrenaline-pumping—example.

Earning a privileged position at the top of the Los Angeles hills was not an easy task for Gal Gadot (Petach Tikva, Israel, 38 years old). He couldn’t even consider himself a yearning, considering that his first goal in moving to the United States was to complete a law degree. Before her, with the newly acquired age of majority and while she was waiting for the call to fulfill her mandatory military service, she decided to enter beauty pageants for fun and ended up being crowned. Her joke got out of her hands and she was forced to boycott her candidacy so as not to also take the title of Miss Universe, although she would end up getting it, unofficially but indisputably, by turning her Wonder Womaninto a global cinematographic icon and an emotional reference that would channel the feelings of a wave of women loaded with reasons to fight. A role that she got when she was about to give up acting, after seeing herself pigeonholed for years in supporting roles more focused on taking advantage of her slenderness and innate elegance than her talent. Today, with her lesson learned and the glass ceiling shattered, Gadot takes action literally and figuratively with Heart of Stone (released on Netflix August 11), a spy thriller starring, produced and conceived by herself. . with Wonder WomanI felt that there was a place for these types of films with female leads. But I wanted it to be more realistic and earthy, for the viewers to feel their adrenaline and pain”, explains the interpreter. Her determination is none other than to continue opening doors and dismantling prejudices: “There is still a long way to go when it comes to exploring stories from a feminine perspective.” With figures like her leading the way, the journey will be shorter.

His character in Heart of Stone strays away from the male lead archetype of the genre. She doesn’t attempt to save the world on her own, but instead relies on the relationships she forges along the way.
He wanted Rachel Stone to be flawed, to not always find the right answer from her, and to conflict with the challenges that appear before her. I think there’s something very primitive about her wanting not to feel lonely and isolated. She sought to explore that need to be surrounded by people, to establish the human relationships that we all seek.

There are few risky disciplines that you don’t practice in the film: skydiving, zip line, base jumping, snowmobile pursuit , air fights… Is there anything left for you to do?
Throw myself into a burning fire and walk on hot stones! We have aspired to the highest, to make it as big as possible, but always making sure that everything was feasible, that a human being can do the things we have filmed. My goal was for everything to be very real, not to look like another superhero.

Given that you served two years as a combat instructor in the military, has your military training helped you prepare for so much action?
I don’t know if it’s my military training, I would say that the fact of having been a dancer for years has had a greater influence. When you dance you have to express yourself through your body because it is the only language tool you have. In those scenes you have to coordinate your movements because they go with a very specific rhythm, speed and intention. It is another form of corporal expression and I experienced it as something very natural.

It is curious how several of the actresses who have succeeded in the genre, such as Charlize Theron or Milla Jovovich, were also models. Do you find similarities between walking down the catwalk and kicking?
Yes there could be. The body has a way of communicating without words and it all depends on the intention you put into what you show. It happens when you parade, when you dance or when you fight. For example, I remember walking down the runway when I was a model many years ago and feeling unstoppable.

Many of their generation colleagues are also betting on producing the films they star in. What are the benefits?
In this case, it’s because the idea to make the film came from me and my husband, Yaron. If we hadn’t produced, driven and developed the story, she never would have gotten the chance to play Rachel Stone. Production is just one way to fulfill our dreams. If I have a dream role that I want to play, developing the story myself and having my own production company is an incredible advantage in order to achieve it.

And how has it been working side by side with him? Did they avoid talking about work at dinner at home?
[Laughs] No, he’s been great. Yaron is a very creative person, with a great business mentality and once you accept that he will not always agree, you can talk about anything. We are the type of couple that is very used to doing everything together and we enjoy it, it has been an organic decision.

I want to go back to 2017, when Wonder Woman bursts into theaters. Soon after, the #MeToo movement exploded and her character became a global feminist icon. How did she live those days?
I remember it as if she had watched it from a moving train. I had just had my second daughter [Maya], she was about eight weeks old when the movie came out, and that same month I had back surgery for an injury I sustained while filming. If you think about it, it’s even funny because people would think that in those days I was popping a bottle of champagne and feeling cool from the top of Mount Olympus, but I was dealing with many fronts and personal issues. And also, all that sudden exposure and fame… it was very overwhelming.

Did it overwhelm you to see yourself erected into a social phenomenon?
I loved it, but I never felt like everything that happened was about me. I always thought that I was just a vessel for this character. It wasn’t me, it was Diana. So that made it a lot more bearable.

In her beginnings she was able to give life to a spy, her first casting in Hollywood was for a James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.
I didn’t get the role, so I continued studying. The truth is that it is funny to see how inscrutable the paths of life are and how when one door closes another opens for you in the future. This whole process made me understand that I really did want to become an actress.

At that time he was studying Law and International Relations. Was it important to study for a degree before immersing yourself in the industry?
Having an education was always essential. Until the James Bond audition, I had never thought about going into movies, so my college career meant everything to me. Since I was little I have been taught that this is the only thing that no one can take away from you once you have achieved it, so I value my education very much.

His character in Heart of Stone is ordered to avoid any kind of relationship or friendship in favor of his spy work. Has she also had to make sacrifices in her personal life to be an actress?
Yes of course. For starters, all our friends and family are in Israel, and we live in Los Angeles, a city we love but is on the opposite end of the road from the people we love. There is a price to pay, but I am one of those who think that all good things cost. It was worth it.

Your beauty is always highlighted in profiles posted about you and even Margot Robbie recently said that you were “impossibly beautiful”. Beyond the compliment, have you felt that her physique outshone her talent?
Wow! First of all, for that to come from someone as beautiful as Margot Robbie is a huge compliment. [Meditates for several seconds] To be completely transparent with you, the truth is that I don’t have those kinds of thoughts. I am not obsessed with my physical appearance, I am passionate about other types of things that have nothing to do with my looks. That is my only drive, my motivation and what keeps my brain busy. I don’t ask myself those questions.

And how has your personal style evolved over the years? Is it allowed to play more?
I always think that less is more and that sophistication is the best key. It doesn’t matter what kind of clothes you wear, but who wears them. And I am that kind of person. I like clothing that complements those who wear it, not the one that defines them completely.

Next year she will give life to the evil queen in the new adaptation of Snow White . Does she excite her to be her now her the antagonist?
She has been such a delightful and enjoyable role that I can only be pleased. I am grateful to play one of the first Disney villains and to have the opportunity to do a musical, a genre that has allowed me to be more dramatic and play everything in a more bombastic and delicious way. I have really enjoyed it.

His co-star in the film, Rachel Zegler, had to endure the hate of the networks for being Latina. Something similar to what you experienced when the next adaptation of Cleopatra was announced . How do you live with this type of online harassment?
It doesn’t take getting used to if you don’t pay too much attention to it. My compass is only focused on the character, on the story. I’m passionate about Cleopatra because she’s always considered herself a very one-dimensional figure. Her name is known to everyone, but most of them only perceive her as someone very seductive and sexual… She was much, much more. I would love the opportunity to celebrate her figure, her life and her philosophy.

In the film, his character must protect an artificial intelligence that safeguards peace in the world. As an actress, do you feel that artificial intelligence will end up being a threat to her profession?

Honestly, I still can’t rate it. What seems clear is that artificial intelligence is going to become an important factor in everyone’s lives and it is fascinating to see how quickly it has become so real. Only time can tell.

Gal Gadot on balancing motherhood, her mental health & being Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot on balancing motherhood, her mental health & being Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot is a real-life Wonder Woman. The Israeli actress and mother of two daughters served two years in the Israeli defence services working as a combat instructor, studied law and international relations, even found time to open a hotel in Tel Aviv – which she later sold for $26 million – and to train for the role of Wonder Woman she mastered swordsmanship, Kung Fu, kickboxing, capoeira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Oh, and when reshoots on the first installment of the Wonder Woman franchise were required in November 2016, Gal was five months pregnant with second child, Maya.

The stunt-loving actress is now back in Wonder Woman 1984, the follow-up to the record-breaking first installment which made an eye watering $821.8 million, and is better than ever as she contends with a new decade and new enemies – namely a new arch nemesis played by Kristen Wiig.

For this week’s GLAMOUR UNFILTERED – our biweekly chat show hosted by Josh Smith – Gal Gadot reveals that the greatest struggle she faces, aside from the small fact of intense stunts and ya know wielding the magical whip of Wonder Woman, is juggling motherhood, her career, her mental health and her self-critic…

Wonder Woman is fundamentally about using the personal struggles we go through to ultimately empower us. What struggles in your life to empower you?
I think it’s being able to prevail in some difficult or complex or really stressful situations and really going through them and prevailing. That is when I feel like I’m empowered, when I am facing them.

What kind of stressful situations do you feel like you have to push through?
Oh babe, just, you know, just the normal stuff and that’s being a working mom. You have to balance between having a career and having a family. It’s something that is always a handful and my career takes a lot. And, of course, my family takes a lot and I have two very young children. So, finding the balance and always trying to do my best is my biggest thing.

I mean the juggle is real isn’t it!
Oh, it is, dude!

Wonder Woman is also about her facing her physical and mental strength. What has this role taught you about your own mental and physical strength?
That was so hard! This movie was just like the hardest movie I’ve ever got to work on both physically and emotionally especially with the longevity of everything. We shot the movie for eight months and we prepped for it for four to six months ahead of the shoot, it is just a lot! And the fact is I’m a perfectionist with everything that I do so wherever I am I try to give my everything. What empowers me is knowing that I give my best every day, everywhere and to everyone. I did it and you take it day by day until you do it. You just learn how to perfect it, how to make it work better for you and how to handle everything. That is my biggest struggle.

Do you have a self-critic and how do you manage it?
Of course, I have! And how do I handle it? I don’t! It is what it is!

Gal Gadot is in Charge of Her Own Destiny

Gal Gadot is in Charge of Her Own Destiny

The actor, producer, and entrepreneur, is taking the future into her own hands with her upcoming film Heart of Stone.
Gal Gadot can’t sit still, both literally and figuratively. On a recent Zoom call from her sun-drenched Los Angeles home, the Israeli actor punctuated her thoughts on everything from action heroes to Disney villains with unrestrained hand-waving, chin-rubbing, and even face-clawing. Gadot, 38, who broke through in 2017 with the smash hit Wonder Woman, admits she struggles with unwinding. “I’m itchy. I can never really sit still,” she says. “Either I’m making babies or making a project. I feel like life is too short, and I want to devour everything.”

As an actor, producer, entrepreneur, partner, and mother, Gadot is always juggling at least a few roles on any given day. At present, she’s wearing actor and producer hats as she gears up for the release of Netflix’s spy thriller Heart of Stone, in which she stars as Rachel Stone, an intelligence operative tasked with saving her supranational organization’s most valuable asset; Gadot nurtured the project from concept to screen. Post–Wonder Woman, Gadot is invigorated by getting her hands dirty, ready to play an active role in every project she signs onto. Not only is she diving into the deep end as a producer on Heart of Stone, and a founder of the better-for-you mac-and-cheese brand Goodles, but she’s taking leaps in the acting world, too, entering her villain era in next year’s Disney live-action musical Snow White alongside Rachel Zegler, and directed by Marc Webb. (And those are just the projects she can talk about…) Gadot spoke with L’OFFICIEL about her forthcoming projects, impostor syndrome, and carrying on the legacy of her Holocaust survivor grandfather.

L’OFFICIEL: You recently narrated a video for visitors at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the camp that your grandfather survived. What was it like for you to do that?
GAL GADOT: Where do I even begin? To do the narration was a no-brainer. Steven Spielberg’s foundation [Righteous Persons Foundation] reached out and asked if I would do it. I didn’t even know what I was about to narrate. I didn’t know they were gonna play it [at Auschwitz]. My grandfather lost his entire family there. When he was 14 or so, if someone would have whispered into his ear that his granddaughter would tell the story of what happened in this hellish place in just a few decades…it really struck me. For the longest time he never talked about it—it was too painful. When my grandma passed away, I think he realized that life is too short, that it’s gonna end one day. He completely opened up about everything and told us the entire story. It was very traumatic for obvious reasons. The way he overcame it was with love, with forgiveness, with teaching people to be good people so this never happens again, and with compassion. He was like the loveliest teddy bear of a grandfather, with a smile in his eyes and not a gram of anger or frustration. I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to do this and come full circle with my grandfather.

L’O: It’s such a powerful legacy to carry as a grandchild of a survivor. So many of these stories are lost.

GG: Totally, and it’s true. I feel like the human soul never really changes. I feel like the theme of love, compassion, acceptance, and community—all these ideas are the things that would make society better. Not division, not hate, not fear, not envy. It’s what actually is gonna bring us further to a better life.

L’O: You’re not only starring in Heart of Stone, but also producing. What interested you in this project from a producer perspective, and then as an actor?

GG: The whole idea of starting the production company with my husband [Jaron Versano] was to be in control of my own destiny. I’m not the type of person who likes to sit and wait for the next offer. Heart of Stone was one of the very first ideas that we had. I realized that we always feel like female protagonists are more for female audiences. With Wonder Woman, we really managed to prove that as long as the story is universal, it’s good. I felt like there was room for a female-protagonist action movie that would be for everybody, but more gritty and raw and grounded, rather than a polished superhero movie. Usually, as an actor, you get the script, and you can discuss the script with your filmmaker, but that’s kind of it. In a way, it’s super easy; you don’t have to worry about anything. But there’s something so stimulating and exciting in creating something from scratch.

L’O: You and your husband are also producing partners. What is it like to work alongside your spouse?
GG: Most people would raise an eyebrow. It all depends on the dynamic of the relationship that you have. Jaron and I were always on the same page. He comes from the business side of it, and we had a really great opportunity when he sold his entire [real estate] portfolio in Tel Aviv. Either he was going to continue real estate or come work with me, and I was like, “Let’s work together,” because he was the missing piece. Jaron has the business mind, and who else can take care of my interests better than my life partner?

L’O: What stands out about [your character] Rachel Stone is her compassion, to the extent of causing trouble. What drew you to her as a character?
GG: It was really important for me to show a character that is flawed. I’d already done and enjoyed doing the superhero of it all, and I wanted to show a real person. I wanted to create a woman who has learned to do everything by herself. She can never be an open book; she can never trust anybody fully. And that was also part of the reason why I love Tom Harper, our director, because I remember watching Wild Rose with Jessie Buckley. It’s a tiny story, but he managed to craft it in a way that was super character-driven. To me, it was more important to bring a director that cares about emotional performances and the story, rather than the way the action looks.

L’O: Obviously, we don’t see a ton of women leading spy thrillers, which we’ve touched on a bit, but what does the opportunity to lead this film—and potential franchise—mean to you?
GG: A lot of people had mentioned, “Let’s set this movie up for the next one,” and I always say, “Let’s focus on one great movie first, before we get ourselves involved with anything else.” It’s funny, I always feel like I have this impostor syndrome, because I feel so lucky and I’m so happy that I get to do what I really, really, really love. I always feel like, “I hope they’re gonna like it.” There’s never a moment when I’m like, “They’re gonna love this.” I remember speaking to Francis Ford Coppola, and I asked him, “So how does it feel to be a national treasure?” And he said, “You know, something? I’m always filled with doubts. I’m always afraid they’re not going to like it. I just follow my heart and I come into it humble.” I think this was one of the biggest lessons. I’m sitting with the legend Francis Ford Coppola, and he’s talking about how humble and insecure he can get. I was like, “Okay, I can be insecure all the time.” I feel like now it’s too soon for me to talk about what it means to me to be the lead for this franchise. Most of all, I hope people are going to enjoy it. And afterwards, if I’m lucky enough to make another Rachel Stone movie, I would be so happy, and we’ll talk about it then if we ever get to the other side.

L’O: What movies or actors influenced your approach to creating Heart of Stone?
GG: I can’t say this is like the female Bond, because who am I to say anything like that? Bond? Such legacy and heritage! We’ve started something original. We wanted it to be thrilling and exciting and have people at the edge of their seats, not just a story where you can tell what the end is going to be. So that’s a tough question for me to answer as far as inspiration, because we’ve tried not to take too much from others. We did make a big scopey movie like the Mission Impossible and Bond films. We shot in five different locations. It was important for us that most everything that we could have done for real we’ve done for real, as far as the action goes. But we really tried to make an original piece, and I hope it feels that way.

L’O: You mentioned filming in five locations. Which one was your favourite?
GG: [We filmed in] Iceland, Morocco, Lisbon, London, and Italy—in the Alps. They’re all special. I must say I really, really enjoyed Lisbon because I had never been there. I enjoyed everything about it as far as the people, the food, and the culture. It was so easy to film there. There was good energy.

L’O: You’re also doing Snow White, where you’re playing the villain for a change. How was it to switch to the dark side?
GG: Amazing, written in all caps. We’re talking about Heart of Stone—everything is super realistic. The opposite goes for Snow White, and I shot them back-to-back. It was a great shift. I can’t believe I got to play the Evil Queen, the first evil villain in the history of Disney. I get to sing and explore my theatrical, evil dark side. The first four days, I was really in character, meaning like, it was hard for me to come out of the character, I was so in it. It’s like doing theater. Everything is bigger. Everything is more dramatic. It was a lot of fun.

Gal Gadot Is in a League of Her Own

Gal Gadot Is in a League of Her Own

Three years ago, Gal Gadot rocked the world as Wonder Woman. In the sequel, she’s back to kick more ass in the name of feminism.
Gal Gadot is relaxing on the back patio of her home in Tel Aviv. This outdoor space, surrounded by a stone wall and overhanging trees, is where she says she likes to go for a little “me time” after her children, Alma, eight, and Maya, three, fall asleep. Last year, when Gadot and her husband, Jaron Varsano, thought Alma was old enough, they showed her the film that made her mother a star: Wonder Woman.

“She was very excited,” Gadot says, “but she also couldn’t detach from seeing Ima”—Mother in Hebrew—“battling the bad guys. She said, I can’t watch it! Just forward! She couldn’t bear it. So we skipped the scary parts. But the rest of it she loved, and she is proud of it.”

Alma isn’t a fan of Sleeping Beauty, however. “She said, ‘I don’t like Sleeping Beauty,’ ” says Gadot, “and I asked her why—because it’s a Disney princess; who doesn’t like a Disney princess? And she said, ‘Because all she does is fall asleep and the prince comes and kisses her and then it’s the end. She didn’t do anything,’ she said. And both Jaron and I were looking at her, and we were like, what a healthy perspective. And it’s so true—she didn’t do anything.”

I remember when I went to see Wonder Woman in the theater in New York City just after it opened in June 2017, all the hooting and cheering erupting from the women and girls in the audience. At one point a woman sitting next to me gripped my hand in some spontaneous show of sisterhood. Reports soon followed of similar reactions occurring all over the country and the world: audiences clapping, crying, donning their Bracelets of Submission and wielding their golden lassos in public and on social media. A viral Tumblr post from a kindergarten teacher (which Gadot retweeted) reported a list of inspiring things that had happened in her classroom since the film’s release: both boys and girls wanting to emulate the strength and goodness of Wonder Woman, and to save the world, like she did.

Wonder Woman was a phenomenon. Coming, as it did, months after the election of an avowed pussy grabber to the U.S. presidency, it felt like balm. And Gadot seemed like the perfect incarnation of a beloved female superhero, arriving in time for a feminist wave (her first name, Gal, actually means wave in Hebrew), kicked off by the historic international Women’s March in January 2017.

Today, with Wonder Woman 1984 set to hit theaters in December, Gadot is excited for audiences to catch up with the next installment of Wonder Woman’s story. “I think the first film was the birth of a hero,” she says, talking to me on Zoom, “and this time around we wanted to go deeper in a way. It’s more about the danger in greed, and I think that it’s very relevant to the era that we’re living in nowadays. It feels like everyone is in a race for more, and when you get what you wanted there’s a new bar—and what’s the price? And do we lose ourselves in this crazy marathon?”

She’s wearing a sleeveless black Helmut Lang tank dress with an asymmetrical collar, diamond studs, no makeup. In a conversation touching on feminist themes, it’s hard to know how, or if, to say just how beautiful she is. She doesn’t seem that interested in it herself. In her teens, she worked at Burger King rather than take the modeling jobs she was being offered. She was shocked when she won the Miss Israel pageant in 2004 (her mother and a friend had entered her on a whim) and decided beauty pageants were not for her. She threw the 2004 Miss Universe pageant, she has said in interviews, by acting uncooperative and wearing terrible clothes.

“Oh, my God,” she says, laughing, when I bring it up. “Paula Abdul was one of the judges, and she asked me something and I was like”—intensifying her smoky Israeli accent—“ ‘Me no speak English, so sorry.’ I did everything to make sure it wasn’t gonna happen.”

In the opening scene of Wonder Woman 1984, the child version of the warrior princess Diana Prince (played by 12-year-old Lilly Aspell, a prize-winning show jumper in real life) engages in a lengthy physical contest, a sort of Amazonian Olympics. It takes place on Themyscira, the magical island and all-woman city-state that is her birthplace. It’s a dazzling sequence from a technical perspective, with many impossible-looking feats executed on a grand scale, but what stays with you is the sheer athleticism on the part of a very determined-looking little girl.

“Whenever I see this part of the movie, I always get teary—like good, excited tears,” says Gadot (pronounced “Ga-dot”), who is 35. “One of the biggest things that I believe is that you can only dream about becoming someone or something after you’ve seen it visually. And for boys—lucky them—they got to experience, since the beginning of the movies, that they were the protagonist, they were the strong ones, they saved the day.

“But we didn’t get this representation,” she says. “And I think it’s so important—and of course it’s ultra-important for me because I’m a mother of two girls—to show them the potential of what they can be. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be athletic or physically strong—that too—but that they can be bigger than life.”

She talks about the need for education; she tells me about “a horrible thing that happened to a 16-year-old girl that got raped by multiple men in Israel,” in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat in August. “How come there were multiple men in the room, and no one was like, Hey guys, this is wrong, stop, somebody call the police?” she asks. “We have to role-model ourselves to our children and we have to educate them for equality. There is still a long way to go because there’s no true equality yet. If we focus our resources on this type of thing, then real change would happen.”

She smiles. She smiles a lot. “I hope it wasn’t too big of a speech,” she adds.

“I’ve never met anyone who is so bestowed with gifts—of beauty and intelligence and strength—and is so good,” says Patty Jenkins, the director of Wonder Woman 1984 and 2017’s Wonder Woman, which was the highest-grossing movie by a solo woman director, earning more than $820 million worldwide.

The success of the first Wonder Woman film—for which Gadot was paid only $300,000, a figure that caused outrage in some circles as it paled in comparison to what many male action stars take home—helped catapult her onto the list of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood. For Wonder Woman 1984, she reportedly earned $10 million—a hefty sum that is still less than half of what some leading male action stars get, yet another sign that in Hollywood, as elsewhere, the gender pay gap still has a long way to go to close.

Woman like that in the role,” says Jenkins, who calls Gadot her best friend. “She’s not looking for glory or fame—she’s always asking, What can we do with this that will be good for the world?”

When I emailed Chris Pine, who plays Wonder Woman’s love interest, the intelligence officer Steve Trevor, in both films, asking him why he thought audiences so embraced Gadot in the role, he replies: “My understanding of Wonder Woman is that she is love incarnate: fierce, strong, compassionate, and uncompromising. That is Gal.”

Gadot grew up in Rosh Ha’ayin, a small city in central Israel which an Israeli friend of mine describes as being “like a typical middle-class California suburb.” Her father, Michael, was an engineer, and her mother, Irit, was a gym teacher who taught sports to Gadot and her younger sister, Dana, insisting that they run around outside rather than stay in and watch television.

You can imagine Gadot being very like that active little girl in the opening of Wonder Woman 1984, running, jumping, preparing physically and mentally for her future. Her own athleticism can be seen all over both Wonder Woman films, in which she famously performs many of her own stunts. “We try to avoid as much as possible using CGI in the fights,” she says. One of the more extraordinary moments in Wonder Woman 1984 involves a scene in which she fights off several bad guys with her golden lasso while doing a back-bending high kick, which manages to be both badass and elegant.

After high school, Gadot spent two years doing her mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces, where she was a fitness and combat readiness instructor, before entering college. (She has often been criticized for her service in the IDF, as well as a Facebook post supporting the troops during the Israeli army’s air strikes on Gaza in 2014.)

“I came from a home where being an actress wasn’t even an option,” she tells me. “I always loved the arts and I was a dancer and I loved the movies, but being an actress was never a discussion. My parents were like, You need to graduate university and get a degree.” She had planned on becoming a lawyer.

But “dadadada,” as she often says whenever glossing over complicated or unnecessary details (such as some stints on Israeli TV shows), she was cast as Gisele Yashar, the sultry weapons expert in 2009’s Fast & Furious, and so her career in Hollywood began.

“Jaron,” her husband, “was the one to say, You can do whatever you want to do,” she says. “He’s the one who really gave me the strength to follow this dream.”

Gadot met Varsano at a yoga retreat and “very strange party” in the Israeli desert in 2006, when she was 20 and he was 30; both had been invited by mutual friends. They hit it off immediately and started dating. “On our second date, he announced, I’m breaking it off with all the other girls that I used to date and I’m gonna ask you to marry me in two years, and he did—a man of his word,” Gadot says, smiling. In 2008, they married in a small ceremony in Tel Aviv.

Connecting with him proved to be a turning point in her personal life and, in a way, her nascent career. She had encountered a unicorn: a truly feminist man. “We are really, equally partners,” she says. “We have a group of friends here and all of the wives have careers, and we always joke that the husbands are the ‘new man’—very involved in the household and in taking care of the kids and everything. Jaron is literally the wind beneath my wings.”

You can forgive her, perhaps, for being gushy; after all, he’s the type of guy who honored International Women’s Day in 2018 by posting on Instagram: “I’m so lucky to be married to a strong independent woman. I learn from her on a daily basis, she empowers me and helps me become a better version of myself. Our relationship is based on equality and mutual respect. Her goals are as important as mine. Her dreams are as important as mine.”

But more importantly, according to Gadot, Varsano walks the talk. He supported her in pursuing her career as it grew bigger and increasingly demanding, she says, encouraging her to keep working through the raising of two daughters, even when she herself became unsure about how she would juggle being a mother and all her professional opportunities. When she grew anxious about traveling to movie sets with her firstborn, Alma, it was Varsano who reassured her they could make it work.

“We travel together,” says Gadot. “We’re the circus family. I love what I do, but first and foremost is my family and I won’t travel for long periods of time without them.”

She calls being a mother “the best thing I’ve ever done, the project of my life.” When I ask her what kind of mom she is, she smiles and says: “I’m all types of moms. It depends what days you’re asking. I’m very connected to them and I’m very warm, and I make sure to keep the channels of communication open and we always talk about feelings and stuff like that. And then sometimes I let go and don’t interrupt them because I’ve learned when you’re too involved you can actually create problems.

“I can be hysterical at times,” she says. “I can be goofy. We laugh a lot. I can have a lot of patience, but then when I lose it, it’s not great.” She laughs. “I think that every mom can relate to this, that once you have a baby, you get a huge sack of guilt, which is something that I’m dealing with all the time. But I realized I can only try and be the best version of a mom that I can be. So I just try to do my best and give them everything that I can.”

Her daughters know that she plays Wonder Woman, of course, but “it’s not like an issue in our house,” she says. “I’m the mom who bugs them and asks them to do things and wakes them up in the morning. Whenever I get a [Wonder Woman] Barbie, they get excited about that and they play with it a little bit, but they’re not obsessed with the idea that I’m Wonder Woman.”

In Wonder Woman 1984, which was shot in London, Washington, D.C., and parts of Spain, Wonder Woman does much, including battling her nemesis, Cheetah, played by Kristen Wiig. The characters start out as colleagues and friends, when Cheetah is still just the awkward geologist Barbara Minerva, having not yet transformed into her evil alter ego. The scene where they first meet, at the Smithsonian Institution, is notable for Diana Prince’s welcoming attitude toward her fellow female scientist; it feels like another girl power moment, showcasing Gadot’s openness and vulnerability onscreen.

“Gal was a tremendous talent from the start, but I have to say, her acting skills have exploded,” says Jenkins. “She’s just one of the best actresses working now. I remember when she rounded the corner [in that scene] and walked in, there was such a complexity of warmth and generosity on her face. I was looking at her and thinking, Wow, she’s so stunning—it’s like she came out of a comic book, right off the page, like you couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful—and yet she exudes this complex wisdom.”

Annette Bening, who costars with Gadot in the Kenneth Branagh-directed Death on the Nile, agrees that Gadot has acting talent that is both untapped and underdiscussed. “She’s become a star because of Wonder Woman but she is a very fine actress,” Bening says. “Of course Wonder Woman is so delightful, and she has all the strength, but Gal also has a lot of other things in her, and she’s capable of doing a lot of different roles, which I’m sure she will do. When someone is that good-looking, people often underestimate them, especially when it’s a woman; people can’t conceive that they could be as intelligent as all that and people get jealous and are competitive.”

In Death on the Nile, which comes out in December, Gadot plays Agatha Christie’s most glamorous femme fatale, Linnet Ridgeway Doyle. The film is a sumptuous escape, shot in England and Egypt. “They did such a good job of the sets and the costumes that you literally felt like you were a woman from the 1940s,” says Gadot, who appears in a succession of killer gowns, bedecked with jewelry.

“I’m a people person,” says Gadot. “I can talk to a wall. I wanna learn; I wanna hear stories. So for me, working with so many people”—the large ensemble cast includes Armie Hammer, Sophie Okonedo, and Russell Brand—“was delightful, and probably even more delightful because the people I got to work with are lovely and sweet and charming. And I had Annette [Bening] there with me, who I already knew. She was kind of the one to push me and Jaron to start our production company,” which is called Pilot Wave.

The company’s first project, a series for Apple about Hedy Lamarr, will star Gadot as the gorgeous Hollywood actress and a scientific genius who pioneered the technology that laid the foundation for WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth. “Ooh, Hedy Lamarr,” says Bening when I mention it to her. “Gal is perfect for that.”

Beautiful, talented, blessed with two children and a supportive husband—who partners with her on successful projects, like the development of Tel Aviv’s Varsano Hotel, which in 2015 Gadot and Varsano sold to Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich for $25 million—flying all over the world, making big films with other beautiful and talented people.… Gadot’s life looks beyond privileged. And so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the internet turned on her after she posted the now infamous video of herself and other celebrities singing John Lennon’s “Imagine,” in March, at a time when many people, including herself, had just started quarantining due to COVID.

It’s certainly hard to make it through the awful, off-key two-minute video, which features an array of head-scratching performances from the likes of Wiig, Sarah Silverman, Natalie Portman, and Will Ferrell, as well as a few real singers such as Sia and Norah Jones. And the timing was certainly off—people were feeling desperate, scared, and in need of resources, not celebrities cooing at them from their luxurious environs.

But was it really cause for the type of hate it received? Or was that just the internet doing what the internet does? Was it really deserving of the screed it got in the New York Times, in which music writer Jon Caramanica wrote: “It begins after a brief, platitudinous monologue from Gadot, who may be on lockdown, but whose mind has been freed, bro.”

When I bring it up with Gadot, she doesn’t apologize. “Sometimes, you know, you try and do a good deed and it’s just not the right good deed,” she says with a smile and a shrug. “I had nothing but good intentions and it came from the best place, and I just wanted to send light and love to the world.

“I started with a few friends, and then I spoke to Kristen [Wiig],” she says. “Kristen is like the mayor of Hollywood.” She laughs. “Everyone loves her, and she brought a bunch of people to the game. But yeah, I started it, and I can only say that I meant to do something good and pure, and it didn’t transcend.”

Her take-me-as-I-am attitude is refreshing, but I wonder how this goes over in Hollywood, which is notorious for being a place where people rarely say what they really think. “Sometimes it can get me in trouble,” she says. “There is something that I’ve learned to say, which is, ‘I don’t disagree with you, but’—so basically I’m disagreeing with you.” She smiles again. “So I adapted. I just came to the conclusion: I do me, you do you. I’d rather have you not liking me at this moment than not saying my truth.”

I take a picture of her on my screen so I can make sure I remember how she looked during our conversation. In this picture, she’s smiling the happiest smile I think I’ve seen on anyone since the start of the pandemic. I wonder about that smile, and how Gadot manages to stay so happy. I wonder if it’s because she seems so aware of how lucky she is.

The word lucky comes up again and again as we talk. Gadot feels lucky, she says, to be healthy and safe and with her children during COVID. She feels lucky to have been cast as Wonder Woman and to be part of that world, which she says feels “like you’re one big happy family living in a commune; it’s been an amazing, amazing ride.” She feels lucky to have Varsano as her partner.

“I am lucky,” she tells me. “I say thank you every morning. In the Jewish culture there’s a prayer that you’re supposed to say every time you wake up in the morning to thank God for, you know, keeping you alive and dadadada.

“You say ‘modeh ani,’ which means ‘I give thanks,’ ” she says. “So every morning I wake up and step out of bed and I say, ‘Thank you for everything, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.’ ” She closes her eyes a moment, as if saying the prayer all over again. “Nothing is to be taken for granted.”

Going There With Gal Gadot

Going There With Gal Gadot

Our February cover star talks childbirth, the Israeli army, and, yes, “Imagine.”
It would be easy to sum up Gal Gadot’s career with two words — Wonder Woman — but her journey to Hollywood is less simple than a twirl of a golden lasso. While she was cast to inspire young women’s dreams, Gadot’s dreams, originally, were rather different. Born in Israel, at 18 years old she entered beauty pageants (“going to be nice to tell my grandkids”), winning Miss Israel in 2004.

After that, she enlisted as a combat trainer in Israel’s mandatory military service; around this time, at 20, she met her husband, Jaron Varsano. She then studied law at university, but the call of the pretty business didn’t let up. Signing with an acting agent, she was cast in 2009’s Fast & Furious and began pinging between Tel Aviv and Los Angeles. In 2016 Gadot landed the role of Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the rest is box office history.

Starring in this month’s Kenneth Branagh murder mystery Death on the Nile, Gadot is also developing Wonder Woman 3 and a biopic of Cleopatra, in which she will star. She’s as no-bullshit as her roles are escapist — and yes, she’ll poke fun at “Imagine” too.

Laura Brown: We’ve not met before, but I’ve always felt you’re more subversive than you appear. For example, when you were a Miss Universe contestant [in 2004, after winning Miss Israel], you deliberately lost the pageant.
Gal Gadot: I’m not the type of girl to do beauty competitions. But I had some time before my military service, and I was like, “That’s going to be nice to tell my grandkids that Grandma competed in Miss Israel.” And then I won. I was like, “Holy shit. Now what?” I didn’t want to win. I never thought I would. I was so naive. I was only 18, and to become a celebrity and have paparazzi around, it was too much for me. When they sent me to Miss Universe, I said, “Never again. I’m not even taking chances.” And they go, “You have to wear evening gowns for breakfast.” It was so ridiculous; I didn’t play by the book. I just did my thing, and I didn’t try to impress them. I was like, “English, no. Me no speak. Very hard language.” And then I didn’t make the first cut. [laughs]

LB: Do you still pull that?
GG: Of course! I always blame the language. In Hebrew, I’m so eloquent with the way I speak and the words I choose. I love language, and sometimes it’s frustrating that I live my life in English now. I dream in English but still don’t have the language completely embedded within me. Whenever I get frustrated, I’m like, “I’m still an immigrant.”

LB: That said, do you think it’s better to work in Hollywood when you’re from somewhere else?
GG: I always look at the glass as half full, so I see it as an advantage, even though I’m sure there are many disadvantages. It took time to adjust to Hollywood — to understand the behavior, to read people, to be more polite and eloquent. I come from a culture where we don’t have filters. We say what we think, good and bad. My parents didn’t raise me to be the star of the family or to become famous. I didn’t think I was going to be an actress. That helped me keep my sanity.

LB: Yep, not every actress could have said, “I might as well do a beauty competition before my military service.”
GG: But you can only speak from the prism of your life and what you know. Everyone I know went to the army — my parents, my grandparents, my friends. It’s kind of in the DNA of being Israeli. It’s mandatory.

LB: You were a combat trainer. What does that entail?
GG: I did a boot camp. It was months of learning how to do Krav Maga and doing drills of push-ups, pull-ups, and running with sacks of sand on the beach. I wasn’t fighting on a field; I was just a gym instructor who prepped training programs for people in the army. It sounds exotic and exciting, but I’d just go to the gym at 5 a.m. and go back home at 4.

LB: Your combat training was in Lycra.
GG: Exactly. At the end of the day, I wore Alo Yoga.

LB: What were your first auditions like?
GG: After my service in the military and modeling, I started university and studied law. There was a casting director there looking for the new Bond girl, and she had seen my card at my modeling agency. I was like, “Listen, I’m not an actress. I’m here because my agent told me you really wanted to see me, but I don’t want to waste your time.” I didn’t get the part, but I started working with acting coaches and auditioning in Israel. I got my first role for a TV show, and that same casting director remembered me and hired me for Fast & Furious. Then I started my affair with acting.

LB: Is that when you moved to the U.S.?
GG: No. I didn’t want to move to the U.S. for a long time. My husband and I would come for three months a year. I’d do auditions and hate it. But it felt like the lighter side of life, and it was refreshing to try something different. Things really changed when I got Wonder Woman, obviously.

LB: Globally, in a second.
GG: By the time I got Wonder Woman, I was really big in Israel. So I was used to fame and knew what to expect. Maybe the scope was larger in the U.S., but really, it’s all the same swamps — just in different locations with different magnitudes.

LB: Is there something to being judged for your appearance early in life that when you get older you just go, “Fuck it, I’m going to talk now”?
GG: I was always, “Fuck it, I’m going to talk now.” I was never shy about my voice. That could have something to do with the culture I’m coming from, the directness and cut-the-bullshit.

LB: I had a friend at the Elle Women in Hollywood awards, and she said that when you received your award, you took the piss and started singing “Imagine.”
GG: Yeah. Might as well. They had a mic there.

LB: So many people just wouldn’t do that.
GG: It just felt right, and I don’t take myself too seriously. And with the whole “Imagine” controversy, it’s funny. [In March 2020 Gadot released a video of her and celebrity friends singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” that was branded as tone-deaf on social media.] I was calling Kristen [Wiig] and I was like, “Listen, I want to do this thing.” The pandemic was in Europe and Israel before it came here [to the U.S.] in the same way. I was seeing where everything was headed. But [the video] was premature. It wasn’t the right timing, and it wasn’t the right thing. It was in poor taste. All pure intentions, but sometimes you don’t hit the bull’s-eye, right? I felt like I wanted to take the air out of it, so that [event] was a delightful opportunity to do that.

LB: Many actresses can be self-conscious or self-censoring, so that was pretty punk, considering. What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
GG: I don’t feel like I have done anything risky on my end. I feel privileged and grateful and lucky, coming from a tiny place in the Middle East and getting to work with amazing people. I feel like, “Fuck that, just be grateful and shut up.” It takes a lot of hard work, which I’m happy to give. We’re very family-oriented, so being away from our families in Israel is a price you pay. You can’t eat the cake and leave it full, if you say that?

LB: You can’t have your cake and eat it too?
GG: Aha, yes.

LB: Tell me, how ambitious were you coming up?
GG: I’m hungry, and I’ve always been this way. My parents taught me, “Be like a horse.” Horses are only focusing on their lane, so they were like, “Just focus on your own path.”

LB: What are you ambitious for now?
GG: I think at the beginning of my career it was, “Get a job as an actress.” I got that in Israel; then it was, “Get a job as an actress in America.” Then, “Get a meaningful role.” Now it is to tell stories that are meaningful for me, but also to develop our own thing. I want our production company [Pilot Wave] to be solid, and to use that to control my career destiny as far as I can.

LB: Can I assume Pilot Wave doesn’t refer to Wonder Woman waving from the jet?
GG: It comes from quantum physics. It’s a theory that everything in reality is guided by this little “pilot wave” that shows particles exactly where to go; it leads things and opens the way for everything to happen just as it should.

LB: When did you first feel like you had power “in the room”?
GG: After the success of Wonder Woman. I could not believe that happened to me. When I was told that I was going to have my own solo movie, I was like, “Holy shit. They’re going to find out I’m not a real actress.” You know the imposter syndrome? I was just like, “Fake it until you make it.” Then I was blessed to work with an amazing partner, [director] Patty Jenkins. We were literally arm to arm, shoulder to shoulder. We did it together. After we proved to the studio that we could bring people to the theaters and make it work, something really shifted.

LB: With the pay disparity in Hollywood, did other actresses come to you after that success and go, “Shit. Finally. I’ve been over here making one-tenth of Jack’s money”?
GG: Yes, multiple actresses reached out. There was a big sense of camaraderie. People love to portray women as if we cat fight and we’re jealous, but there was so much love and support, and like, “Yes! Finally!” I got that from amazing women around the world — big actresses too. I thought, “Oh my god, I can’t believe she just thanked me.” It was interesting timing, because as the movie was coming out, the #MeToo movement really started to take off. It was as if the stars had aligned.

LB: So Wonder Woman 3 is happening, right?
GG: We’re developing the script right now. We’ll probably start in a year and a half or so.

LB: How does it feel to have your life mapped out?
GG: I love it. If there’s one thing I don’t like about this business, it’s that usually you don’t know when or where the next project will be. Once you’re a mother and you have kids, you need to plan and figure out your life.

LB: You have three daughters [Alma, 10; Maya, 4; and Daniella, 8 months]. How protective are you?
GG: They’re the only thing I make sure to keep as private as possible. I want them to be naive and safe and protected. I share a lot — I believe that if I went through experiences that people can relate to or learn from, great. But as far as my family goes, I’m very protective.

LB: What does the word “badass” mean to you?
GG: Strong, confident, sexy, smart.

LB: Who would you say is badass?
GG: Patty Jenkins, Halle Berry, Kari Skogland, and, of course, Chloé Zhao. All of them are filmmakers.

LB: Kari is directing your Cleopatra film. I assume it will be different from the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton version, but how do you see it?
GG: I can’t reveal a lot, but I can tell you that we’re going to celebrate the Cleopatra story. We’re going to show not just how sexy and appealing she was, but how strategic and smart, and how much impact she had and still has on the world we’re living in today. I’ve watched all the Cleopatra movies throughout history, but I feel like we’re telling the story the world needs to hear now.

LB: How do you personally avoid snakes in your life?
GG: You try to choose the right people.

LB: Have you always had a good bullshit detector?
GG: I think so. As a kid, my mom told me, “Don’t be friends with her.” You have the senses for it.

LB: What’s the most badass thing you’ve ever done?
GG: Shooting a movie while being pregnant, or when you have a baby. When you’re on set, you’re like a kite. You can fly so high and try to catch the air. Then you go back home to do your main shift as being a mother. It’s not about me, it’s, “OK, now I need to bathe Maya, feed Alma, put Daniella to bed.” That is the badass thing I do: the juggling between my family life and my acting career.

LB: One of the girls is screaming and you’re like, “Christ, I was a kite earlier today.”
GG: It’s true. I was shooting a scene in London on a gimbal of an airplane, and I was stuck there. Alma had a show at school that I couldn’t go to, and I spoke to her afterward and asked, “How was it?” She was crying, asking me why I wasn’t there. Then I started to cry, but I was trying not to show Alma that I was crying.

LB: Hold on. Were you crying in the Invisible Jet?
GG: Yes, I was!

LB: No one can see you.
GG: Aha, everyone could see me. There was a camera in front of me, one on my side, and one from Chris [Pine]’s side. There’s no privacy whatsoever.

LB: That’s what I attempt to do with the magazine. It’s like, “Yeah, here are these ladies and they have money and nice dresses, but the pressure on them and the violation of their privacy is bigger.” Don’t envy anyone.
GG: The bigger the success, the bigger the price.

LB: What does money mean to you?
GG: It’s important for me. I always cared about being independent and working. I started working when I was 12, babysitting and doing camps for little ones.

LB: A lot of women still shy away from talking about money.
GG: Sometimes it’s not about the money, but more about what the money symbolizes. I’m a pleaser, and when I was little, I used to double-book playdates because I felt bad saying no. My mom told me, “When you say no, people respect you more.” I have a fight within me — the pleaser and the girl who wants to be assertive. So, with money, it’s not always about the sum, but if my fellows left and right are making this and I’m bringing the same value, I would love to be equal. I don’t like the word “respect,” because it has ego elements, but people take you more seriously when you treat yourself seriously.

LB: It means equity. It means freedom. This is a blunt question: How vain are you?
GG: With fashion? I’m awful. At work they put makeup on me, but I don’t like to wear makeup day-to-day. I hate fittings. If you ever speak to Elizabeth [Stewart, Gadot’s stylist], ask her how much she enjoys our time together. I’m like, “Things to do, places to go. Let’s find the best dress that I love, and done.” I was a model, so I can do the on-and-off thing quickly. I’m not really vain, because I don’t spend a lot of time indulging myself with those type of things. However, I am a sucker for spa and body treatments. I love those.

LB: Your red Loewe dress for the Red Notice premiere was perfect. You’re like,” OK, you want a glamorous movie star? I’m going to give you one.”
GG: It was my first carpet since I had Daniella. I was like, “I want to feel like I’m back in the game, because I’ve been pregnant for almost a year. I want to feel like a woman.” By the way, I was working out, getting ready for it. I was watching what I was eating and all of that.

LB: Three children ain’t nothing.
GG: Yes, but I started young. I was 25 when I was pregnant with Alma. I always wanted to be a young mother. Yeah, three kids. No joke, woman. God bless them, but it’s so much work.

LB: Did you feel good through your third pregnancy and after?
GG: I love giving birth. I would do it once a week if I could. It’s so magical. And I always take epidurals, to be fair, so it’s not so painful. Just the moment you feel like you’re creating life, it’s incredible. But the pregnancies are hard for me — I feel sick and have migraines. I’m not in my element.

LB: You’ve been married 13 years. I know your husband, Jaron, is now producing with you. What insurance is it to have someone who’s been there since the before times?
GG: It’s huge. We’ve grown together. I know he’s not with me because I’m a “movie star.” He’s with me because he loves me. The connection was there from the beginning before everything, so it always felt very real and very good. I’m super grateful that I got to meet him when I was 20. I was a baby

LB: Were you in combat training?
GG: I was still in the army, yes. He met me in uniform. [laughs] He loved it. I still had one year left in my service.

LB: What do you think he’s proudest of you for?
GG: That I stayed the same. I maybe evolved, but I didn’t change. [Jaron walks into the room.]

GG: [to Jaron] Come say hi to Laura.

Jaron Varsano: Hi, Laura from InStyle.

LB: I was just asking, in what ways are you proud of Gal?
JV: That’s easy. In the roller-coaster life that we’re living, she manages to keep a very balanced family life and work, and everything is just smooth. That’s a very impressive thing, to juggle everything at the same time and stay normal.

GG: I said he’d probably say I didn’t change; I might have evolved, but I never changed. The “normal” kind of gives that.

JV: Exactly.

LB: Ten points for Jaron!
GG: Awesome. We did it.

Gal Gadot Is Unafraid to Face Industry Injustice

Gal Gadot Is Unafraid to Face Industry Injustice

She’s best known for playing a heroine who can teleport and fly. But the star’s biggest superpower is her willingness to stand up—for herself and others
Gal Gadot insists she doesn’t like conflict. Hates it, in fact. While she once harbored fantasies of becoming a “full-blown Ally McBeal type,” she left law school after only a year. “The thought now of me being a lawyer,” she says, her head filled with visions of courtroom soliloquies and miniskirt suits, “dealing with conflict all the time, it’s not for me.”

It’s hard to square that with her image as Hollywood’s go-to action heroine. Whether she’s lassoing bad guys as Wonder Woman or, in her new movie Red Notice, wielding an electrocution device as casually as a Jacquemus minibag, she doesn’t exactly seem to dread onscreen contretemps. (Stunt-wise, she says, “I do whatever the insurance allows me to do.”) But offscreen, Gadot does come across as almost preternaturally low-key, mimicking her wide-eyed observation in her early acting days: “ ‘And you get paid for it? Ooh, I’m in. Sign me up.’ ”

If only it were all that easy. After being cast in 2009’s Fast & Furious, she kept auditioning until “I got tired of trying,” she says. Just when she’d almost given up, she landed the part of Wonder Woman. As a kid in Israel, Gadot was too young to watch the Lynda Carter TV version; she describes her young self as“[not] a big fan of comic books.” But she knew that a female-fronted superhero movie would be a watershed moment. A blockbuster centered on the character was “overdue,” she says. “People were craving her story.” For the first film, her salary was a mere (by Hollywood standards) $300,000. At the time, “I was extremely grateful. That was my big break.” Then the movie made over $800 million. When the sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, came along, “if you look at it like a card game, my hand got better. I was willing to drop the ball and not do it if I wasn’t paid fairly.” She made a reported 30-plus times that salary for the follow-up. Given her aversion to conflict, was she scared about playing hardball? “No, because when I’m righteous, I’m also right.”

Another instance of her righteousness, and rightness: speaking up about mistreatment by Joss Whedon on the set of Justice League. (A Hollywood Reporter story alleged that Whedon verbally abused Gadot when she shared concerns about her character and dialogue. Whedon declined to comment for that story. While his on-set remarks haven’t been made public, Gadot said on Israeli TV in May that Whedon “kind of threatened my career and said if I did something, he would make my career miserable.”) Asked about her initial reaction to those comments, she says, “Oh, I was shaking trees as soon as it happened. And I must say that the heads of Warner Brothers, they took care of it…. Going back to the sense of righteousness that I have…you’re dizzy because you can’t believe this was just said to you. And if he says it to me, then obviously he says it to many other people. I just did what I felt like I had to do. And it was to tell people that it’s not okay.

“I would’ve done the same thing, I think, if I was a man. Would he tell me what he told me had I been a man? I don’t know. We’ll never know. But my sense of justice is very strong. I was shocked by the way that he spoke to me. But whatever, it’s done. Water under the bridge.” Her friend and Wonder Woman 1984 co-star Kristen Wiig observes that Gadot is unafraid to advocate for herself. “When she needs to wear that hat, she is very clear on what is right. People who think she’s just a pretty face are dead wrong.”

In Red Notice, she takes a break from the heroine template to play an art thief who is “not a goody two-shoes. Her agenda is not pure like some other characters I play.” The part required her to face off with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. (“He’s a gigantic rock with the softest, sweet heart,” she coos. “It’s like butter from within.”) Their costar Ryan Reynolds confirms, “She can go toe to toe with pretty much anybody, even a skin-covered mountain like Dwayne Johnson.” The role affords her some comedic moments, too. “Gal is incredibly adept at comedy,” Reynolds says. “She can go big when she needs to; she can reel it in when she needs to.” She’s also stretching her period-drama muscles with Kenneth Branagh’s latest Agatha Christie adaptation, Death on the Nile. (Fun Gal Gadot data point: She’s a huge Christie fan.)

Now that she’s lassoed Hollywood, Gadot is focused on her passion projects. Through her production company, Pilot Wave (which she cofounded with her husband, Jaron Varsano), she’s developing a Cleopatra film. The famed ruler was an “icon” for her when she was a child growing up in the Middle East. While it’s hardly Hollywood’s first attempt at depicting Cleopatra, “her story needs to be told in a different way, in the real way, where it celebrates who she was.” She’s also producing and starring in a Hedy Lamarr limited series for AppleTV+ that will explore the Old Hollywood star’s lesser-known role as an inventor. In an era when “women weren’t really allowed to wear pants…she not only wore pants, but she invented things.” Beautiful, brilliant, underestimated at one’s peril? Sounds like the ultimate Gal Gadot heroine.

Gal Gadot Opens Up About Wonder Woman 1984

Gal Gadot Opens Up About Wonder Woman 1984

Gal Gadot is waiting for the boosh. Eyes narrowed, bouncing lightly on her toes — float like a butterfly, sting like an Amazonian queen — she moves soundlessly through the chilled air of cavernous studio outside London, her shoulder blades blooming into a set of molten-gold wings.

When the explosion comes, it’s muffled, but the soldiers who emerge from the blast in full combat gear don’t look like they’re here to make friends. As she dispatches them one by one, it’s impossible not to imagine how many of them are experiencing the highlight of their working lives in this very moment: men who will spend the next 40 years telling every first date and airplane seatmate about that one time they were annihilated by the warrior princess of Themyscira.

“Ahhh, so uncomfortable!” Gadot says with a good-naturedly grimace after the scene finally wraps, shrugging off her shiny albatross and slipping into the plush gray robe and Ugg boots that wait for her just off stage. It’s the closest the 34-year-old onetime Miss Israel will come to uttering an uncheerful word, even after long hours spent in a wingspan that defies the natural laws of both orthopedics and most actual birds.

Endurance, though, is built into the brand: A months-long shoot has already hopscotched from the sunbaked Spanish cliffs of Tenerife to suburban Virginia and now back to the bone-chilling damp of England in early winter. On the set of 2017’s Wonder Woman, Gadot remembers, she and costar Chris Pine would sing Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” to each other between takes to stay warm; in the follow-up, due June 5, the action moves from the grim grayscale battlefields of World War I to the neon era that birthed many a hair band — and the movie’s titular star, too.

“I was born in ’85, but it’s funny, I really do remember,” Gadot says in her lightly accented English, settling into a canvas-back chair steps from where she just brought a battalion to its knees. “Probably more so because of my parents, but it was a such a standout decade as much as it goes with fashion, music, politics. And the look of everything! The colors.”

If you had to pick just one from the palette, you might want to start with green: the color of money, of course, but envy, too. “In 1984, America was at the peak of its power and its pride,” says associate producer Anna Obropta. “Apple computers and parachute pants, wealth, commercialism, glamour, even violence — everything was larger than life. It was a decade of greed and desire, a time of ‘Me, me, more more more.'”

Returning director Patty Jenkins, whose sure hand helped guide the first film to near-universal acclaim and more than $800 million at the box office, elaborates: “It was a time where no cost had shown up yet. There was the fear of the Cold War,” she concedes. “But it really was like, ‘This is gonna go on forever!’ The feeling that the world was this cornucopia that would never stop giving was so enormous.”

Not so much, maybe, for Gadot’s Diana, a woman forged in the last movie’s era of scarcity and sacrifice. Now working at the Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., she lives quietly, still mourning the loves she’s left behind. “She has not only had the loss of [Chris Pine’s] Steve Trevor,” explains producer Charles Roven (American Hustle, the Dark Knight trilogy). “She’s lost nearly all the people that are important to her because they’re not immortal, and her life is actually quite lonely and spartan. In fact, the only joy that she gets out of it is when she’s actually doing something for people, if she can help those in need.”

In this go-go decade, though, the line between want and need is easily blurred. Enter Maxwell Lord, a self-made mogul-slash-guru played as a sort of insidious mix of ’80s icons both fictional (Gordon Gekko) and real (Tony Robbins) by Pedro Pascal. “Max is a dream-seller,” says the 44-year-old actor, best known for his turns on Narcos, The Mandalorian, and Game of Thrones. “It’s this character who encompasses a component of the era which is, you know, ‘Get whatever want, however you can. You’re entitled to it!’ And at any cost, ultimately, which represents a huge part of our culture and this kind of unabashed — it’s greed,” he breaks off, laughing. “It’s f—ing greed, of course. But it’s also about ‘How do you be your best self? How do you win?’ So he’s definitely the face of that version of success.”

If Diana is immune to Lord’s charms, her new co-worker Barbara Minerva — a shy, socially awkward gemologist played with stumbling-foal charm and a frizzled perm by Kristen Wiig — is not. The comic-book faithful will know what’s coming: a transformation that turns a rare friend into one of Wonder Woman’s most formidable nemeses. It was less familiar, though, to the actress portraying her: “I did not really know so much about Cheetah,” the longtime SNL star, 46, admits. “Before I even talked to Patty [Jenkins], there was an idea that maybe it might be about being a villain for the movie, so I went online and looked at all the villains of Wonder Woman to try to figure out which one, because I was so excited,” she laughs. “And I was really, really happy to find out it was her.”

That meant doing serious stunt and wirework for the first time in her career (“I mean, I was sore for about eight months. A lot of ice baths”) and also taking on what is essentially two separate roles: “I’ve never really played someone who walks into the room and owns it — especially when she starts out so insecure and self-deprecating,” she confesses. “We didn’t want to see Barbara in Cheetah, and I didn’t want to see Kristen in Cheetah, either.”

Jenkins never had any doubt that Wiig was right for the part. “In the lore, Cheetah is often someone who’s friends with Diana but jealous of her,” she says. “And I feel like Kristen’s playing a character who’s both ends of the spectrum — she’s your warm, funny friend who’s kind and interesting and then can transform into something completely different. Yes, she happens to be a woman, but she’s straight out of the Gene Hackman Superman school of great, funny, tremendous actors. I don’t think of her being a female villain, although she is. I feel that way about Wonder Woman, too. The female component of it is huge, but she’s also just a hero, a universal hero.”

And if Diana has to face not one formidable villain but two, doesn’t a demigoddess deserve a little backup? Pine’s Steve Trevor will be returning, though there is not a Lasso of Truth on this planet that will get anyone in the cast or crew to reveal exactly how. Just know that her fighter-pilot paramour has somehow made the journey through space and time to find himself by her side once again — and if he has to strap on a fanny pack to do it, well, that’s just what a real man does. “In the first movie, I played the world-weary soldier who has seen all the depravity that humankind is capable of displaying,” says the Outlaw King star, 39. “And in this one I get to be much more wide-eyed and joyful. My role is really just as a friend, lover, boyfriend-cum-bodyguard who’s trying his best to help Diana on her mission. I’m like the Watson to her Holmes.”

Though there’s much more than tweedy repartee in the playful romantic chemistry between Pine and Gadot that marked the first film, and set it apart from so many of its action-focused peers. That connection — and the easy, equal give-and-take of their onscreen banter — is owed at least in part to plain luck: “There was no chemistry test!” says Gadot. “Honestly, we just had it…. And where other men could be intimidated by the fact that they’re not, you know, the hero hero that men usually are, with Chris he enjoys it, and it challenges him in a way that is so much fun and so funny.”

That, says Jenkins, is exactly why she chose him: “He’s not beta at all. He’s a super alpha who can absolutely wear his discomfort on his sleeve. So, from day one, I was always saying that it should almost be like Wonder Woman meets Indiana Jones, where Indiana would never be emasculated. Chris just very naturally has that quality. You can tell by meeting him that he’s warm and he’s chill and he truly appreciates women.”

Pine appreciates, too, that the movie’s take on romance isn’t exactly typical of the genre. “I think sometimes superhero films may feel they have to fit in a love story just to tick that box,” he says. “Whereas in this, it’s part and parcel of the spine of the lead character. And that is Wonder Woman — she leads with love and compassion and protectiveness, and these qualities that I think are nurtured by a good strong relationship.”

But even love, of course, can’t conquer all — at least not without a little heavy metal. Cue the Golden Warrior Armor made iconic in the comic books, which makes its first big-screen appearance here: Jenkins found a reference of soldiers in ancient Rome to help solidify the look of the shield; Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming (a veteran of many Bonds and Batmans) spent long hours working with designers and artisans to nail down multiple iterations of the famous wings.

Some are made from a spine-straining carbon fiber weighing upwards of 44 pounds; one set, destined to be CG’ed later, looks almost tablet-like, a sort of platinum-dipped Ten Commandments; another like an extremely blingy set of Venetian blinds. But most important, Hemming says, was to make sure that “in the light it’s always liquid, moving. There’s a feeling of non-flatness…. Because in the comics, she does fight her mightiest battles in the golden suit.”

Even when the stakes are high, though, certain occasions still call for the classic red and blue. One of the movie’s earliest scenes finds Diana coming to the rescue in the fairest ’80s destination of them all, the mall. Award-winning production designer Aline Bonetto, who oversaw the sets on the last film (she’s also responsible for the signature look of 2001’s Amélie) took over a recently closed shopping center in Alexandria, Va., and built out 65 storefronts, including a number of dearly departed brands (rest in peace, WaldenBooks). “Seeing the old round letters on the Gap logo!” Wiig sighs happily. “It was like I had stepped back into my childhood. I was such a mall girl.”

There’s a major set piece too, in the only place in America that may be more exalted than a good galleria: the White House. At the time of EW’s visit, a partial replica of America’s First Home had just withstood a major showdown between Wonder Woman and Lord. Paintings hang askew, marble columns are toppled, and drywall litters the marble floors; it looks like either a frat party or a roving pack of gremlins came for the Lincoln Bedroom. “It’s funny,” Gadot says of shooting scenes like these with her costars, “when we do the fight stuff, we go full-blown and we’re like, super badass. But then when they cut we go, ‘Oh my God, are you okay, Booby? Oh no! Did I scratch you, sister?'”

Things are much calmer on the museum set, a sleek modern structure that contains Barbara and Diana’s offices, and in the latter’s apartment, a sparsely decorated space that bears the tidy but faintly depressing traces of a lonely life: clean lines, bare kitchen, neat wardrobe; its only real personal touch, tellingly, are the handful of black-and-white photos perched on a side table; it’s clear that in this space, she’s thousands of literal and figurative miles from home. Though fans will get a chance to see their warrior princess back on the turquoise shores of Themyscira, at least in the form of a flashback — reunited with her mother (Connie Nielsen), and aunt (Robin Wright) for what might best be described as a sort of Amazon Olympics.

The competition is equally fierce if a lot less friendly later in the film, during an explosive high-speed chase through a Mad Max-style desert. (If it’s not exactly Fury Road, it definitely doesn’t look like a breezy one.) But for Gadot, who gave birth to her second daughter just weeks before Wonder Woman’s release — her five-months-pregnant belly, famously, had to be greenscreened out in reshoots — the long months of training and bruisingly elaborate fight sequences are worth the personal costs.

“I think that when I just started, I didn’t understand the magnitude and how much this character means to people,” she says. “I was feeling like the little girl who’s supposed to climb the Kilimanjaro mountain, scratching my head and thinking, ‘How the hell am I going to do this?’ But now I feel like I know where I’m going and I know what we’re doing. If in the first movie Diana didn’t understand the complexities of mankind, now she completely understands it…. She loves people, and I think that’s the key to this character, you know? She has the powers of a goddess, but she has the heart of a human.” And the wings, too, to make it fly.

The Gal Gadot Next Door

The Gal Gadot Next Door

Wonder Woman has been with us for decades, but 2017 was the year she finally got the blockbuster she deserved—and now Gal Gadot, the actual ex–Israeli soldier who played her, is Wonder Woman forever. Caity Weaver hits the beaches of Tel Aviv with Gadot and her many (many) fans.
The day I meet Wonder Woman by the seaside is a perfect beach day, bounded on each side by unbroken chains of perfect beach days. The sun is splendidious. The sky is a show-off blue. The people of Israel are wearing white sneakers and performing vigorous calisthenics in the free fitness parks that stipple the Tel Aviv shoreline in primary colors. The water is as warm and as salty as a basin of tears. The egg sandwich is unexpected.

Wonder Woman has brought me the egg sandwich wrapped in cellophane, and when she arrives, she delivers it to me as confidently as if I had specifically requested it. She also packed me a fluffy white bath towel from her own home. Wonder Woman is used to taking care of everything because she is the protector of mankind.

Here in the real world, Wonder Woman is Gal Gadot, and off-camera Gal Gadot’s personal style is like that of a desert-island inhabitant who receives regular airdrops of au courant garments from the world’s top luxury fashion houses. She arrives at the beach with her hair in a bun, wearing old rubber flip-flops, denim cut-offs so distressed as to be inconsolable, and a couture black swimsuit boasting cap sleeves; leather; a deep, plunging bustier neckline; and a field’s worth of laser-cut and embroidered flowers and leaves. It’s a bathing costume designed to be worn more in theory than in practice, yet it also seems to function as Gadot’s casual swimwear for bumming around. I recognize it from a recent Instagram post of Gadot in a pool with friends. When I mention this, she contorts her face in mock misery: “I cannot believe I wore the same swimsuit twice!” I express my concern she’ll be spotted by fans, because she has essentially arrived at the beach wearing a Gal Gadot costume. She laughs and flops down under the shade of a public cabana.

The most beautiful thing about Gal Gadot is her smile—a real one, devastating, whipped out frequently to the peril of those around her—but the other stuff is very good, too. She has features that make the notion of cosmetics seem garish, like using Hi-Liter to trace over a butterfly’s wings. Her height—she’s just over 5’10″—and her leanness behave like complementary colors, her stature emphasizing her slenderness and vice versa. Gadot’s thinness doesn’t make her seem small, though. She has the bone structure of a delicately carved statue, but her physical presence is more akin to the rod that runs up the statue’s back to absorb lightning strikes.

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She is spotted. She is spotted over and over again, probably a dozen times before we leave. She obliges virtually everyone, perhaps calculating that it will take longer to disappoint a fan than to smile and pose. Her trick is to offer an immediate “Thanks!” the instant a photo has been taken—her polite signal the interaction has concluded.

It’s already as hot as a charcoal grill in an attic on the sun, but at 10 A.M., there are few enough people at this beach on the far outskirts of Tel Aviv that everyone can fit within the cool, gray squares of shade provided by a smattering of tented canopies. The catch is that you have to share your square with strangers, which is why Gadot and I are joined first by an old man and, a little later, by a woman in her late 50s, who sits behind Gadot and faces the sea. How do the logistics of personal safety change when you abruptly become a global public figure?

“I’m much more aware and alert,” Gadot says, stretching out on the sand. “I don’t want to seclude myself from society. I want to be part of everyone, and I enjoy talking to random people sometimes. It’s easier for me here [in Israel], ’cause profiling people is really easy for me.” She gestures toward a group of about 20 young people in a neighboring cabana, many of whom have already asked her for photos.

“Like, I can tell you that this group—they’re good people. They’re calm, nice. They’re gonna clean after themselves when they leave. They don’t look for trouble.” She jerks her head back. “This woman,” she says in the same breezy tone, “is probably from Russia.”

The sea-facing woman, who has been out of Gadot’s line of sight since she sat down—I’m not even sure when Gadot saw her—has short blonde hair and a blue bathing suit. Nothing about her demeanor brings visions of the Bolshoi to mind.

“Why do you think that?” I ask.

“I just know,” Gadot says with a shrug. “I just know.”

The truth is that Gadot is not just alert but hyper-alert. Her relaxed, casual manner belies a sharp awareness of strangers’ proximity in public. Often during conversation, Gadot’s head whips quickly around, seeking out the source of intruding sounds or movement. The demeanor is not skittish but vigilant. Whenever she senses someone approaching—a detection she can perform even from yards away—she falls still and quiet, like a swimmer bracing for a wave. At one point during our conversation, she abruptly wheels around, catching off guard both myself and two women slowly picking their way through the sand to approach her from behind. “Wow, girls!” she calls out, beaming brightly. “I’m just in the middle of an interview, could you come back?” They smile, and back away.

I ask Gadot if she is the most famous person in Israel who is not currently running Israel.

She considers the question for a moment, then answers in an even tone. “Probably.”

When Wonder Woman made her debut in 2016’s critically abhorred Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, she vivified scenes as if she had defibrillator paddles strapped to her high heels. Based on fewer than ten minutes of screen time, Gal Gadot was hailed as the savior of the DC cinematic universe, and so it was a rare instance of the best-laid plans actually turning out to be the best-laid plans when Wonder Woman’s standalone film—a prequel set during World War I, a century before the events of Batman v. Superman—began annihilating box-office records this past summer: highest-grossing superhero movie led by a female character; highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman; highest-grossing fantasy that also educates teens about the horrifying realities of trench warfare.

The reviews for Wonder Woman glowed with the blinding luminosity of a CGI Lasso of Truth. Audiences were delighted that a story about chemical weapons had so much heart. Because Wonder Woman is a girl, Girl Scouts of America bragged about the movie’s success on the organization’s official Facebook page. The film was a swirling vortex of goodwill.

The most obvious change from antecedent underperforming comic-book movies was the insertion of an armor-clad female into a landscape populated almost exclusively by spandex-clad males. (Fine, Wonder Woman’s costume was actually rubber, but it looked approximately like armor.) The result, crafted by director Patty Jenkins, was a high-octane, estrogen-fueled thrill ride. The timing also helped, coming as it did on the heels of a female presidential candidate’s staggering loss to a hectoring sexist. Studio projections suggested the film would gross $65 million in its opening weekend in the U.S. Instead, it earned $103 million, as female moviegoers turned out in record numbers for the chance to see even a fictional woman who was not at the mercy of men; many reported tearing up during Wonder Woman’s battle scenes. (Kids, too. In a video that went viral weeks after the film’s release, Gadot consoled a sobbing, deliriously happy girl dressed as Wonder Woman at a fan convention. “There’s no reason to cry, all right?” Gadot said generously. “Here we are together.”)

Yet despite its favorable circumstances, it must be said that the actress herself carried Wonder Woman. Prior to the film’s release, hands were wrung into mangled mounds as people worried that men might not like a superhero if she wasn’t also a man. Gadot’s Wonder Woman was brutal with Germans and gentle with babies. She was dignified and occasionally deadpan funny. She was capable of delight (rare in the era of emotionally tortured superheroes) and compassionate beyond human capacity. She was relentlessly, mercilessly charming. It turns out men like that stuff, too.

Although Gadot was the face of the summer’s biggest movie, relatively little is known about the woman behind Wonder Woman, apart from a small collection of facts repeatedly re-examined like treasured exotic curios on the late-night-talk-show circuit: Gal Gadot won the Miss Israel beauty pageant in 2004. Gal Gadot completed two years of service in the Israeli Defense Forces (mandatory for Israeli citizens). Gal Gadot went to law school for one year. (A beauty-pageant soldier with a cunning legal mind? Kind of sounds like Wonder Woman.)

“It’s funny,” says Gadot, “’cause I feel like I’m just in my beginning. After ten years [of acting], now I’m starting.”

Gadot’s first mission was to propel Wonder Woman to box-office glory through the sheer force of her charisma. Her new challenge is trickier: making sure she doesn’t get swallowed up by the superheroine she’ll be playing on screen, virtually uninterrupted, for at least the next 24 months. She’ll reprise the role next in November’s Justice League, again in her 2019 standalone sequel, and possibly again in 2020, in a movie centered on The Flash. If she’s worried about being locked into a comic-book-movie carousel for the foreseeable future, she doesn’t show it. “As long as the story’s good,” she says, “every genre is legit.” All the same, she would prefer to move on from this job eventually.

“It’s not that all I want to do for the rest of my life is Wonder Woman,” Gadot says. “Obviously no.”

Gadot grew up in the water—gal is the Hebrew word for “wave”—and after an hour of talking on the beach, she suggests we go for a swim. A few moments later, there is Gal Gadot, in black couture leather-flower Gottex, floating in the lapis-blue Mediterranean, eyes closed, with her face turned up to the dazzling noon sun, and also, uh, me. She chose this floating spot scrupulously, picking her way around underwater rocks until there was only soft sand beneath her feet. Little fish flick silently around her body. “Tell me what you like to eat,” she purrs, breaking the calm quiet of passing swells. Then she springs her observation trap: “BECAUSE I NOTICE YOU DID NOT EAT THE EGG SANDWICH THAT I BROUGHT YOU.”

I am dumbstruck. I have been pretending, I thought convincingly, to eat the egg sandwich since we unfurled our towels.

Back on dry land, the air is so warm that it towels you off. Once out of the water, I have a request: Wonder Woman is the strongest, bad-guy-tackling-est, most confident female combatant in pop culture, and I want to learn how to fight from her. I ask Gadot to put her six months of Wonder Woman defense training to use by taking me down on the sand. She enumerates all the ways it can go wrong. She’s worried I’ll get hurt—”I put you down, you’re like, ‘Oh, my back! Oh, my God!’ ” She insists that I won’t know how to fall properly. She doesn’t want people to think she is prone to random acts of violence. No, no, she won’t do it.

I propose we ease into the prospect of a full-blown attack by having her teach me a different move: the slow-motion power saunter Wonder Woman unleashes when singlehandedly taking on a German platoon in order to save some members of the Belgian peasant class. It comes at almost the exact middle of the movie and is, in many ways, the film’s defining shot. It’s the first time viewers see Wonder Woman in full battle regalia, and it kicks off a sequence that lays bare the essence of her character: She’s alone, fearlessly charging a line of men with weapons, deflecting their stupid bullets with her bracelets, and risking her life to help hapless strangers. Fans refer to this moment reverently as “the No-Man’s Land scene.”

Gadot scrunches up her face, as though the idea of sand strutting pains her. “Okay,” she agrees. “But you have to write in the article that”—here Gal switches to my perspective, dictating my entire paragraph, so I’ll just give you what she tells me to write: “Gal felt really awkward being pushed to teaching me how to walk the walk of the no-man’s-man—no-man’s-man? Haha!—no-man’s-land. And she was really, really, really feeling awkward doing it, but since she was the hostess, she figured she’ll cut me some slack and da da da.”

She rises up on her tiptoes in the hot sand (Wonder Woman wears wedge sandals, she explains) and strides slowly forward, shoulders back, deliberately shifting her weight from hip to hip, ready to take on a German platoon, ready to march all the way to the beach parking lot if she has to, until she is interrupted by a man who would like a photo, please.

Gadot’s grasp of English is strong, if not quite a death grip. Her words often come out sounding faintly connected, like they’re all coated with honey and sticking together. (One of the top five best sounds on Earth is Gal Gadot saying “Leonard Cohen,” which she says like this: leh-ow-hu-narhd cuh’wen.) Her first language is Hebrew, and because she speaks English with an Israeli Hebrew accent, all the women from Wonder Woman’s mythical island home of Themyscira speak English with an Israeli Hebrew accent—even Robin Wright. Gadot’s school instruction in English began in third grade, but she didn’t really focus on mastering it until she wanted to watch Seinfeld and Friends. In speech, she sometimes translates Hebrew idioms into English ones that don’t exist, which gives her conversation a poetic flair. (Her description of acting: “It’s going with but feeling without. Do you have this term?” We should.) American English has more vowel phonemes than Hebrew, which means lines sometimes require Gadot to produce sounds that simply don’t exist in her native language. This can lead to confusion, as when, at the emotional climax of Wonder Woman, our heroine unleashes an anguished cry of “Stiv!” to the heavens while witnessing an incident that imperils her boyfriend, Steve.

“I fought my accent for so long,” she says. “Like, I gotta sound more American. I was a little bit shy about my accent. Until I let it go. My dialect coach told me, ‘Just own your accent. As long as you’re clear and understood, own it.’ And since I’ve started to own it, I feel free. It’s funny, ’cause language is about communication, and if you don’t feel comfortable with your accent, you don’t feel comfortable to communicate. If you learn that you’re different and it’s okay and you feel comfortable with it, then slowly other people start to feel comfortable with it.

“I like it that it’s a vulnerable place, and I expose it because I learn more [from] it. I wouldn’t want to be in a place where I say wrong things and people are afraid to correct me… [Sometimes] I feel so stupid. Because in Hebrew, whenever I take interviews, whenever I speak to anyone—I read a lot growing up, and it’s important for me to sound eloquent and have good vocabulary, and be really precise with what I intend to say—I have the grammar. But in English, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ll read—you know, I’ll make a list of words that I like to use—it’s just not in my DNA yet.”

In other words, she speaks English not well enough to avoid occasionally mangling colloquialisms, but well enough to say, “It’s just not in my DNA yet.”

A native grasp of English is not a requirement in Hollywood—Sofía Vergara is the highest-paid actress on TV—but having a foreign accent limits the roles you’ll be offered. In her pre–Wonder Woman American film career, Gadot played a spy, a former spy, the wife of a spy, a henchwoman, a member of a Jewish Mob family, and a sexy woman who, in the words of another character, “is Israeli” and “doesn’t speak much English.”

The most distinctive characteristic of Gadot’s voice, however, is not her accent but its perpetual deep raspiness—a mesmerizing quality that makes it sound like she’s just rolled out of bed at all times.

“When I was a girl,” she says in between sips of coffee with extra sugar syrup, “I went to speech therapy because I had a rusty voice. I used to lose my voice very easily. They taught me how to breathe, ’cause I was not breathing right.”

“It’s funny to imagine a little kid with such a husky, sensual voice,” I say.

She cocks an eyebrow and playfully lowers her voice until it is practically dragging on the ground: “Do you want to play hide and seek?” I dissolve in laughter. She leans in close to whisper in my ear. “Come find me.”

There comes a point, in every expository piece of writing about Gal Gadot, when an attempt must be made to explain the correct pronunciation of her name. If you think you already know how to pronounce her name, you likely don’t, and if you know you don’t know how to pronounce her name, you will never get it exactly right.

“I’m, probably 60 percent of the time, still Gadoh,” says Gadot. It is not Gadoh. But it’s also not quite Gah-DOTT. Her confusing advice is that the T is pronounced as “a lighter T…a softer T.” She appreciates that everyone is trying their best.

As we’re packing up to leave the beach, the possibly-Russian woman in the blue swimsuit behind us makes a call on her cellphone, giving us a chance to test Gadot’s powers of observation.

“What language is she speaking?” she asks me under her breath, rhetorically, as she folds her towel. She knows the answer—she just wants me to notice: The woman is speaking Russian.

Gal Gadot is very hands-on. As in: When you meet her, she will put her hands on you many times, in many different places. Israeli culture is so touch-oriented that guides for Americans traveling there warn they may feel their personal space is constantly being violated in formal settings. Gadot might wordlessly reach out to brush a crumb off your face while you are eating, or lightly rest her palm on your thigh for half a minute while she tells you a story. She might scrunch up her hands into little claws and tickle you with quick finger flexes, the way you would a baby’s tummy, if something about your demeanor suggests to her that you need to be tickled in that moment. Even as Wonder Woman sequels and spin-offs propel Gadot to new heights of global stardom, she probably will not lose this habit of touching, because she is a charming, beautiful woman, and it will never occur to people to shrink away from her. In speech, too, Gadot has a compulsive tendency to create intimacy, like when, the morning after the beach, she smiles conspiratorially and tells me she is taking me to a little place near her house that she loves, and it turns out to be a small store where she buys laundry detergent.

At her neighborhood bakery, Gadot patiently translates literally the entire menu for me, without skipping or summarizing any items. “This is mushroom quiche, sweet-potato quiche, tomato-and-olives quiche, pretzel, cinnamon pretzel, pistachio-chocolate Danish, raspberry Danish, vanilla-and-raisins Danish, chocolate brioche, almond-chocolate brioche, just almond brioche, chocolate croissant, butter croissant, chocolate-and-almond croissant, which is wow…” It takes a few minutes. She knows every employee of the bakery, as well as many of the patrons, and just about everyone in Israel comes up to say hello. The employees talk to her about yeast. Her hot husband swings by and kisses her on the lips. She has a long conversation with the son of a neighbor, regarding a fish recipe.

“I’m sorry!” she groans in between catch-ups. We haven’t had more than two minutes of uninterrupted talking time since entering the shop, and she’s beginning to worry that coming to the most popular bakery in her neighborhood that all her friends and family love was a bad idea.

“It’s like your Cheers,” I tell her. Everybody here does know her name.

She bursts out laughing and corrects me: “It’s L’Chaim!”

We depart before any more people she loves can show up and, rounding a corner onto her gently sloping home street, run smack into a gaggle of tourists from Miami. Gadot raises a hand to her forehead, as if to shield her eyes from the sun, and leaves it there to obscure her face as she walks. It’s not until she reaches her own stone threshold that someone gasps, “Gal Gadot!” Gal turns and waves before ducking inside her front gate.

“If you turn around when you hear your name, they’re gonna know it’s you,” I say.

“But this is my house,” she explains. She mimes disappearing through a doorway: “See ya!”

In Gadot’s small courtyard, we encounter her dog, Lola, who is ambling around on her hind legs in a bid for attention. It’s time for Gal and me to part, but I have a lingering regret from yesterday: I never got to take on Wonder Woman in hand-to-hand combat. I make a final plea.

“You’re very embarrassing,” she says, smiling.

“We have total privacy.”

“I knew it was a mistake.” Gadot raises her eyes dramatically to the heavens, but she is already flip-flop-walking to the center of the courtyard, and bracing for my attack.

This is what happens when you attempt to ambush Wonder Woman: The instant your hands fall upon her, she’s already holding them—your hands are her hands now. The next second is a blur, with several feats occurring in such breakneck succession they seem simultaneous: Wonder Woman swaps places with you, your body goes earthward, and your arms get trapped by hers, forcing you to crumple over. You can’t see what she’s doing because, somehow, inexplicably, your glasses are no longer on your face and have resurfaced in Wonder Woman’s hands. Wonder Woman’s poodle mix regards you in mute horror. You are at Wonder Woman’s mercy.

“Then,” she coos, in a rasping sing-song, pulling you backward into a cuddle, cradling you as gently as a dove she wishes to immobilize, “I give her…a huuuug!”

Gal Gadot on Becoming Wonder Woman, the Biggest Action Hero of the Year

Gal Gadot on Becoming Wonder Woman, the Biggest Action Hero of the Year

The former Israeli combat instructor and ex-pageant queen had given up on acting when she landed the role of a lifetime
WONDER WOMAN HERSELF is about to bless my unborn child. “Can I?” she asks, before spreading her long fingers around my pregnant belly. Her hands feel warm and maternal. She holds my gaze, unwavering. “Girl or boy?” she asks. “Girl,” I tell her. Her smile widens. “Being a woman is a strength,” she says. “In so many ways.”

Oddly, this is not a dream; it’s a lunch at the Chateau Marmont. Gal Gadot is ostensibly here to talk about her rise from almost total unknown to an iconic, worldwide symbol of all that is good and powerful as the first-ever feature-film incarnation of Wonder Woman. But it’s hard not to see elements of the superheroic in the way she just is. Never mind that she was up at 5 a.m. with a four-month-old (“Dude, it’s exhausting, but it’s the best”); in person, her aura hovers somewhere between Earth mother and glamazon. Her accent is Bond-worthy and cloaked in the smokiness of her voice. Her Wonder Woman performance so convincingly embodies both the badassness and the overwhelming decency of the character that she may as well be a walking, talking rebuff to the misogyny of the Trump era – so much so that it was reportedly not uncommon to see women weeping openly in theaters as they watched her onscreen. Most of the world may not yet know how to pronounce her name (it’s “gadott,” not “gadoh”), but Gadot can hardly bother herself with such frivolous concerns. “I like it when it’s calm and there’s a harmonic type of atmosphere,” she tells me. And later: “You should find your neutral place with yourself.” In her presence, these things seem possible, even probable.

Or, at least possible, if you’re her. Take the way she brushes off the naysayers who took issue with Wonder Woman, a national treasure (lauded by the Smithsonian as one of the “101 Objects That Made America”), being portrayed by an Israeli: “Oh, my God, seriously, you guys?” (The movie was banned in several Arab countries for the same reason.) Or how she dispelled interweb gripes about the size of her bust with the pointed knowledge that, rather than having pinup proportions, Wonder Woman would historically have lopped off one of her breasts anyway: “I told them, ‘Listen, if you want to be for real, then the Amazons, they had only one boob. Exactly one boob. So what are you talking about here? Me having small boobs and small ass? That will make all the difference.’ ” Or the way she braved a London winter, shooting 12 hours a day, six days a week, in not much more than a leotard and metal wristlets. Or, most impressively, the way she filmed Wonder Woman reshoots and the next installment of the DC Comics franchise (Justice League, out this fall) while pregnant with her second child, morning sickness be damned. “We cut open the costume and had this green screen on my stomach,” she says. “It was funny as hell – Wonder Woman with a bump.”

In fact, Gadot’s bump was just one of the complications visited upon the Justice League production team. After a family tragedy, director Zack Snyder stepped down, leaving the movie in the hands of The Avengers’ Joss Whedon, and rumors of a vast overhaul were all but confirmed when co-star Ben Affleck described the result as “an interesting product of two directors.” But, true to form, Gadot doesn’t buy in to the controversy. “Look,” she says. “Joss, to my understanding, was Zack’s choice to finish the movie. And the tone can’t be completely different because the movie was already shot. Joss is just fine-tuning.”

It is, in part, Gadot’s innate unflappability that helped Wonder Woman not just vastly outperform anyone’s wildest expectations, but also almost singlehandedly save the floundering DC Comics universe. To date, the movie has earned more than $400 million domestically and close to $800 million worldwide. It is currently the highest-grossing live-action film ever directed by a woman. In other words, the film has kicked ass, Wonder Woman-style. “It just shows that the world was ready for a female-driven action movie,” says Gadot. Or even if it wasn’t then, she’s made sure that it is now.

Landing a lead in a tent-pole franchise would have been a coup for any young actor, of course. “When you’re a beginner, you get excited about having a job,” says Gadot. “That’s where I was.” But Wonder Woman wasn’t just any leading role. It was a role that feminists had long been jones-ing for – as every major male superhero got trotted out in big-screen prequels and sequels galore – and one with a history that extended far beyond the mere symbolism of a female superhero. After being cast, Gadot turned to the Warner Bros. archives to read the original comics, and she soon learned that Wonder Woman was the brainchild of William Marston, a psychologist who not only helped invent the lie detector and lived in a polyamorous household with his wife (whom he’d met in middle school), his girlfriend (who’d been his student) and their four children (two per woman), but who also believed that women were not only equal to men, but probably superior. “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,” he is noted as saying in Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman. And as Lepore points out, “In the first story, Wonder Woman comes to the United States to fight for women’s rights, because this is the last bastion of possibility of equal rights for women.”

None of this history was lost on Gadot. “People always ask me, ‘Are you a feminist?’ And I find the question surprising, because I think, ‘Yes, of course. Every woman, every man, everyone should be a feminist. Because whoever is not a feminist is a sexist.’ ” She maintains that she and her younger sister were taught “to believe that we’re capable, to value ourselves” as they grew up in Rosh Ha’ayin, a small city in the center of Israel, where their dad worked as an engineer and their mom was a phys-ed teacher. “I had a very sheltered kind of life,” Gadot says. “There was no TV-watching. It was always ‘Take a ball and go play.’ ” Which suited her just fine. “In general, I was a good girl, a good student, a pleaser, and I was a tomboy. Always with wounds and scratches on my knees.”

Despite these blemishes, Gadot had gotten offers to model, but opted instead to work for Burger King. “I was like, ‘Posing for money? Ugh, it’s not for me.’ ” But in the few months she had off between graduating from high school and serving her two mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces, her mom and a friend applied on her behalf for the Miss Israel pageant. When she found out she’d gotten in, “I told myself, ‘I’m just gonna do this. They’re gonna fly us to Europe, and I’m gonna get to tell my grandchildren that Grandmom did the Miss Israel thing.’ Little did I know that I would win.” Or that winning would land her in the Miss Universe pageant (“It’s funny now that I say it. It sounds so bizarre, like a different life”), which totally freaked her out. “I knew that I did not want to win Miss Universe. It wasn’t my thing. For an 18-year-old, it looked like too much responsibility.” So she decided to deliberately tank in the competition, pretending she didn’t speak English, wearing the wrong things. She didn’t make the top 20. “I lost majorly,” she happily declares. “I victoriously lost.”

When her unexpected reign as Miss Israel ended, she was assigned to be a combat trainer in the IDF, reporting daily at 5 a.m. to put soldiers through a sort of boot camp. While still serving, she met real-estate developer Yaron Versano at “this party in the desert that was all about chakras, blah, blah, blah,” then married him, went to law school (“Because I’m so deep, and I loved Ally McBeal“), and thought she was done with a career path that relied on her looks, when a casting director asked her to audition to be a Bond girl. “I told my agent, ‘What are you talking about? I’m in school. I’m not an actress. I’m not gonna go.’ And he was like, ‘Just show respect and go.’ ” That audition eventually led to her role in The Fast and the Furious, which led to Wonder Woman, though in her first audition for the film, she wasn’t even told what part she was trying to get. “Zack [Snyder] called me and was like, ‘So do you know what you’re testing for?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Well, I’m not sure if you have her in Israel, but did you hear about Wonder Woman?’ ”

Turns out they did have her in Israel, and Gadot immediately realized the opportunity she was being handed, both as an actor and as a feminist. “I’ve had my moments where I’ve felt like men were misbehaving – nothing sexual, but inappropriate in a sexist way. Dismissive. Life wasn’t always rosy and peachy for me as a woman in the world.” Even after she landed the role, she was worried about being thought weak, so she waited to tell her Justice League co-stars that she was pregnant. “I didn’t want attention,” she says. “The default should be that women get the job done, but there’s a long way to go and a lot of reprogramming that needs to be done to both genders.”

Nor was it immaterial that Wonder Woman – who, Gadot says, “stands for love and hope and acceptance and fighting evil” – debuted in 1941, the year America entered World War II. While Gadot’s father is a sixth-generation Israeli, her mother’s mother escaped Europe just before the war. Her mother’s father, who was 13 when the Nazis came to his native Czechoslovakia, was not so lucky. His father died in the army. The rest of his family was sent to Auschwitz, where his mother and brother died in the gas chambers. After the war, he made his way to Israel alone. “His entire family was murdered – it’s unthinkable,” says Gadot. “He affected me a lot. After all the horrors he’d seen, he was like this damaged bird, but he was always hopeful and positive and full of love. If I was raised in a place where these values were not so strong, things would be different. But it was very easy for me to relate to everything that Wonder Woman stands for.”

Now, Wonder Woman was Gadot’s story to tell, and she and director Patty Jenkins were obsessive about getting it right. “It was almost emotional, because we were so united in our desire to make something so delightful that people didn’t mind also talking about this deeper issue,” says Jenkins. Gadot had trained for eight months to put on muscle – “Strength is not something you can fake” – but she also felt that the most feminist approach would be for Wonder Woman to remain feminine, to be strong because of, rather in spite of, being a woman. “I didn’t want to play the cold-hearted warrior. We didn’t want to fall into the clichés.” Instead, she and Jenkins thought long and hard about how a woman raised only by women would respond when plunked into a world dominated by men.

The result is a kind of guileless feminism that feels accidental exactly because it’s anything but. “We didn’t want to treat the misogyny in a preaching way,” says Gadot. “We wanted to surprise the audience.” So when Wonder Woman isn’t allowed in a war-council meeting that’s essentially the Edwardian version of a sausagefest, she doesn’t bristle; she’s merely baffled. Likewise, when she sees a baby on the street, she doesn’t hesitate to fawn (“A baby!“). “We wanted to bring some naiveté,” Gadot says. “Being the mother of two girls, I’m like, ‘We need more naiveté. Everyone is too in their head.’ ” The result is the portrayal of a woman onscreen without a shred of insecurity, a woman who never questions her own impulses, “gendered” or not.

What neither Gadot nor Jenkins could have foreseen is how their careful deliberations would resonate. “Even at some early test screenings, women were coming to me afterward and saying, ‘I feel like you made a movie for me!’ ” says Jenkins. “But it wasn’t until the second week that the movement started, people going multiple times and taking girlfriends and grandmothers, and pictures sent to me from 90-year-old women who were wheeled in. All of that was absolutely stunning to see.” Gadot agrees. “I definitely think that 75 years is a long time for this character to not have a movie, but it’s craaaaaaaazy,” she says of the film’s reception, of the all-female viewings held around the country, of the grade-school boys coming to class with Wonder Woman swag, and of her role in all that.

And now, as the crazy snowballs around her and Wonder Woman 2 no doubt looms on the horizon, Gadot uses her formidable powers to keep things Zen. She and her family recently moved to L.A., where her five-year-old is starting school. “I’m gonna go pick her up,” Gadot says of her afternoon plans. “Then I’m gonna go back home to the baby, have a relaxing day.” Maybe she’ll make a little dinner (“I love cooking Italian. It’s easy”), put on a little music (“Zero 7 because it’s superchill”), revel in the “really simple moments” she says are her thing. In pursuit of all that, she gathers her five-foot-10 frame and stands to leave. Then she pauses. “It’s gonna be great,” she says, gazing at my stomach. And in that moment, yes, it all seems like it wondrously will.

Gal Gadot on Life, Love, Wonder Woman 1984—And How She and Her Family Are Coping With Crisis

Gal Gadot on Life, Love, Wonder Woman 1984—And How She and Her Family Are Coping With Crisis

SPENDING TIME WITH GAL GADOT is an exercise in nonchalance. She is the coolest of customers, so unperturbed that you get a kind of contact high: Anxieties dissipate, defenses drop, tensions drain. Even as she goes about the business of a hectic, two-kid, big-career life—maneuvering her sleek Tesla (toys on the floor, half–eaten sandwich on the seat) through the precincts of show business (Hollywood to Burbank to Beverly Hills and back again)—she manages to make it seem like she’s just meandering on a Sunday afternoon. Indeed, it feels wrong to impose any sort of agenda, anything so uptight as an interview. It’s a hang, really.

Part of this is nature—born that way—but Gadot is fundamentally a creature of her environment. She grew up in Rosh Haayin, a city near Tel Aviv, but lived most of her adult life with her husband among friends and family, just a couple of blocks from the beach. She speaks Hebrew to them, English to most everyone else. Her English is not perfect, but close, her fluency such that you can see the wheels turning as she searches for the right words—and discovers new ones before your eyes. She will sometimes stumble on a phrase or an idiom, question it, then either commit or find the right one.

Which is why spending time with her feels like picking your way through a new world looking at all the pretty flowers. One morning after a workout, still in Capri tights and a loose tank, she’s driving from her gym to a photo shoot at the Montage Beverly Hills. “I will always feel foreign in L.A.,” she tells me, and I nod in agreement, though distracted by the novel experience of gliding noiselessly along the surface streets of Los Angeles in her Tesla. There’s a screen in the middle of the dash the size of a television, which feels like an extension of the windshield that disappears somewhere behind your head, all of which conspires to create the sensation that we’re levitating.

“I love this car,” she says. “It’s like driving an iPhone.” Suddenly, a deep, otherworldly sound—boop…boop…boop. She looks at the screen. “Just a second—that’s my mom in Israel, where it’s 8 p.m., and this is literally the only window I have to talk to her.” She touches the screen and speaks in Hebrew—one mother to another. Are you okay? How was yesterday? Don’t work too hard. Take it easy next week! “Okay, Ema,” she says, and they blow kisses to each other. This is what she misses. In many ways, the success of Wonder Woman has stranded Gadot in Los Angeles, a 15-hour flight from home. “You can’t walk anywhere here,” she says, but that is the only complaint she will lodge because complaining is not her style. But she does relate this story, about how she came back from Israel recently and on the endless drive from LAX to her house in the Hollywood Hills, her eight-year-old daughter, Alma, said, “You know what I like about home in Israel? Everything is five minutes away. Five minutes walking to the gelato place, five minutes to the beach, five minutes to our cousins’ house. And all of our neighbors are our friends.” Gadot sighs wistfully. “But there’s always give-and-take. How do you say in English? Eat the cake and leave it whole? Eat the cake and…. There’s something with a cake.”

You can’t have your cake and eat it too, I say.


LIFE IN L.A. before you find your tribe and your rhythm—even (especially) for a newly minted movie star—can be alienating. You live at the top of one of those famous hills with a view of the world—a dream come true—but driving all the way down and back up for a carton of milk can take an hour. Everything must be planned, strategized, and for a spontaneous creature like Gadot, it can be constraining. And then sometimes it’s just surreal. Leaving the gym earlier, Gadot stopped to talk to a woman with long blonde hair who looked like she’d just woken up and was slowly getting her 10 minutes of cardio in before the real workout began. It was the newly slender Adele, whom I didn’t recognize until she let loose with one of those honking laughs. I’d interviewed her several years ago, and once we figured it all out, Gadot and I stood next to her while she pedaled away, talking about the Vogue cover-story treatment.

The Adele encounter is a reminder: This is, in point of fact, not a hang with some cool Israeli chick. Gal Gadot is an international superstar. Though it may have seemed like she appeared out of nowhere, fully formed, in the summer of 2017 as the star of Wonder Woman, an instant hit and box-office juggernaut that grossed over $800 million worldwide, Gadot has been making movies for more than a decade, most notably as the character Gisele in four films from the Fast & Furious franchise. And yet her entire career trajectory has been one of almost-didn’t-happen serendipity. At 18, she won the 2004 Miss Israel pageant, competed in Miss Universe that year in Ecuador, and then fulfilled two years of mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces as a combat fitness instructor. While still a soldier, she met Jaron Varsano, a real estate developer 10 years her senior whom she married in 2008. Her military service complete and at loose ends, she enrolled in law school in Tel Aviv and started modeling. One day, a casting director contacted her agent and asked her to audition for the Bond-girl role in Quantum of Solace. She didn’t get the part, but the casting director remembered her, which is how she wound up auditioning for 2009’s Fast & Furious. She got that part because the director, Justin Lin, was taken by the fact that she knew her way around a military weapon.

Riding along in her car, I say that I’d read that just before Wonder Woman came along, Gadot was so unhappy with her career that she was on the verge of quitting and never coming back to Los Angeles. (Doing press for Wonder Woman, she told one reporter, “You go to the audition and you have a callback, then another callback and then a camera setup, and people are telling you your life will change if you get this part. And then you don’t get it. I reached a place where I didn’t want to do that anymore.”) So now you’re an actor living in L.A., I say, how do you feel about it?

“Just . . . inertia.” She laughs. “You know, one of the people I really admire is Charlie Kaufman,” she says of the celebrated screenwriter, director, and novelist. “He rarely gives interviews. But there’s a video of him giving a BAFTA speech a few years ago, and I don’t remember it exactly, but the vibe is, You know, I’m here, but I don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m a writer, I guess. But I never refer to myself as a writer, except when I’m filling out my tax forms. But you know, I want you to care about what I do; I just don’t want to care about what you think. And I thought, That’s so interesting! We’re living in a world where everything is by titles: You are a writer; I am an actress. I don’t want to sound too New Age–y . . . but we’re always evolving and changing, and life happens and takes us in different directions. Yes, I am an actress, but at the same time, I have this appetite to do more—bigger, deeper, more interesting.”

Do you think of yourself as an ambitious person?

“Yeah, I’m pretty ambitious.” She pauses. “I’m not elbowy . . . if you say that here. But I’m a big believer in karma, and if it’s mine it’s mine, and if it’s not it’s not. I’m not fighting for things. But when I’m there, when I’m facing the opportunity, I’m completely onboard. I definitely make sure to be prepared, to do the work, to come in 100 percent and go for it.”

That sounds more like conscientiousness than ambition, I say. She thinks for a few seconds as we sit at a red light and then finds another way to explain. “When I was told I got the part in Wonder Woman, I had just landed in New York, and I was at the airport. And the first phone call I made was to Jaron. And we were both super happy and shouting and screaming, and then I told him toward the end of the conversation, ‘After I shoot the movie? I want us to have another baby.’ And then when I got home to L.A. he said, ‘That was such an interesting comment.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘You’re funny because, like, the higher you get, the more. . . .’ If you imagine a kite, right? If it flows really well? My instinct is to tie the string to the ground. It’s hard for me to translate because we were having that conversation in Hebrew. But it’s like the more successful I get, the more I want to plant my roots in and make sure everything is balanced and still focused on the important things in life, which, for me, is family.”

THE NEXT MORNING, I meet Gadot at her daughter Maya’s school. As I am looking for a parking spot on a side street, I spot Gadot on foot and roll down the window. “Perfect timing!” she says. Even among the stylish L.A. mommies and daddies, she cuts a glamorous figure in her skintight jeans, camel coat, and enormous sunglasses. The elementary school is in one of those midcentury institutional buildings common to L.A.—it’s hard to tell where the outside ends and the inside begins. We find ourselves in a covered, open-air parking structure, with a series of couches and a coffee station that seems to be a spot for nannies and parents to congregate while dropping off the kids. Gadot is here to read to Maya’s class of three-year-olds and, with the help of Maya’s sister, Alma, decorate cupcakes. “Sheesh, what a morning!” she says as she grabs a coffee and we sit on one of the couches. “I left the book I’m supposed to read at the house, so Jaron is bringing it.”

Lest you think that those scenes in Big Little Lies of California elementary school drop-off culture veer toward parody, I’m here to tell you just the opposite: They’re closer to documentary footage. Heading inside to Maya’s Butterfly classroom, we pass through an open-air hallway with jungle gyms and play areas that look like art installations. In the classroom, there are a dozen kids and a startlingly exuberant teacher wearing a Frozen T-shirt, a blue sequined jacket, bright-pink sneakers, and a mouse-ears headband, who never breaks character, even while speaking with the adults. At one point, a mom and dad in high-strung-showrunner casual arrive late with their son. The mother gets into a conversation with Gadot about the terrifying possibility of same-day birthday parties. “His birthday is actually on the 22nd,” she says. “We’re doing it on that afternoon. But our times don’t conflict so I think we’ll have good Butterfly turnout.”

It’s saying something that Gadot—soldier/model/movie star from Tel Aviv—is the most regular-seeming person in the room. When she pulls off her jacket and sits down to read her book to the kids, I notice for the first time that her hair is in a tangled ponytail and that her sapphire-blue cashmere sweater looks like it got pulled out of the hamper just before she ran out the door this morning. The teacher herds the children into formation, and everyone sits on the floor, including Gadot. The book she has chosen is about kindness, and as she starts to read—fully committed, acting out every part—the kids, to a one, slip into that contented, enchanted, glazed stupor, hanging on every word. Too young to understand who she is—other than Maya’s mom—they nevertheless succumb to the magic of transference that great movie stars inspire. A thing to behold!

Adults from all walks of life have been falling under Gal Gadot’s spell for years. Kristen Wiig, Gadot’s costar in Wonder Woman 1984, met her at the Governors Ball in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. “She walks into a room and you’re like, ‘Um, is that person real?’ But she’s such a weirdo in the best way. And so kind, such a loyal, beautiful friend. I mean, the text and voice messages she sends make me laugh so hard. They’re the highlight of my day.”

Patty Jenkins, who directed both Wonder Woman movies, tells me that men, women, and children approach her with what they think is their little secret: I am in love with Gal. “So charmed by her,” she says. “Smitten from a distance. And I constantly say to all of them, ‘Here’s the shocking thing: It only gets stronger when you get to know her.’ You forget completely that she’s a movie star.”

One afternoon, I got on the phone with two of Gal’s best friends in Tel Aviv: Yael Goldman, model and TV host, mother of three, and Meital Weinberg Adar, who has two kids and owns a creative branding agency. “I was modeling and she was modeling,” says Yael, “and she had just done the first Fast & Furious. I was standing in the street; she stopped her car and beeped and said, ‘Hey, Yael! Give me your number!’ Actually, she just hit on me. That’s the truth.”

“She hit on me, too!” say Meital. “That’s her thing. I’m her girlfriend,” and they both laugh. “When I met her,” she continues, “I was still trying to be a grown-up—I’m so sophisticated, blah, blah, blah. All my barriers up. And Gal just came in and melted it all away. Normally you grow up and slowly realize that you just have to be good and nice and comfortable with people and the whole world opens up to you, but it takes time to learn that. But somehow Gal just has it inside her. She’s very pure and clear with her intentions. She loves you without waiting for a sign that you love her.”

As we are zooming around Los Angeles in Gadot’s Hovercraft, she gets a call—this one from her husband, Jaron. She answers with the common Israeli term of endearment that has no English translation but sounds like Mommy. They speak to each other warmly in Hebrew about their schedules, and afterward I ask how the two of them met.

“In the desert at this chakra/yoga retreat type of party. And he was too cool for school. Like, we were in the same group of friends, but I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. And something happened kind of from the first moment we started talking. When we got home, I was like, ‘Is this too early to call you? I want to have a date.’ Then we go out, and by the second date he told me, ‘I’m going to marry you. I’m going to wait for two years, but we’re going to get married.’ I was like, ‘Fine.’ ”

Jaron remembers it in a bit more detail. “We were in a very unique laboratory—a desert retreat in the south of Israel. And both she and I were at a stage in our lives where we were thinking about what is love and what is a relationship. We started talking at 10 p.m., and we kissed at sunrise, and we held hands on the drive back to Tel Aviv. At that moment, we were just glued together. It was beautiful.”

Gadot says she always knew she wanted to be a young mother—and where she goes, so goes the family. Alma is also enrolled at a school in London because Gadot has shot three films there in as many years, including Death on the Nile, which is due to come out later this year. The director, Kenneth Branagh, says, “I get the sense that she feels very secure in her family life: She knows what they are, who they are, and that they are with her. And I think that lets her be adventurous in her work and also at ease in her work. She’s a serious person, so she knows the world is a tricky and challenging place from time to time, but there is this ongoing sense of fun about her, and it seems to come out of the wellspring of family. She is determined to smell the roses along the way, and it makes her an exceptionally sort of effortlessly positive energy to be around.”

AFTER THE VISIT TO her daughter’s school, Gadot drives us to the San Vicente Bungalows, Hollywood’s newest members-only clubhouse. There are a lot of silly rules here, including a ban on camera phones, which requires an elaborate ritual of temporary confiscation of nonmember phones so that they may be covered in cute little stickers, which are meant to disable the camera and microphone.

Luckily, the place is like a dream, achingly romantic, with flowers and climbing vines and green-and-white striped umbrellas. Indeed, it looks like the kind of spot you might find along the beach in Tel Aviv. “You see?” she says when we sit down. “It’s like we’re having a date. And it’s Valentine!”

I had heard from a friend that Gadot, her husband, and his brother, Guy, owned the chicest hotel in Tel Aviv and that they recently sold it to the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. Yes, says Gadot. “When I met Jaron, he and Guy were living in the first house that was built in Tel Aviv. It’s a huge beautiful mansion with, like, painted floors and archways and high, high ceilings, but it was in a shitty state.” It became the Varsano Hotel. “Literally a 30-second walk from where Jaron and I were living,” she says. “We were going to the hotel all the time. It was…fun.”

Three years ago, Jaron sold his entire real estate portfolio, including the hotel, and he and Gadot moved to L.A. when she was five months pregnant with Maya. Jaron was now the one at loose ends, and Gal said to him, “You’re a developer. Develop movies.” And then one night they had dinner with Annette Bening, who encouraged them both. “You two think and talk so beautifully about making movies,” she said. “Go and find amazing projects.” Now they are partners in an ambitious production company, Pilot Wave, with 14 of those projects in various stages of development.

Most intriguing (and first up) is a series based on the book Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film, about a star from a more glamorous era that this place throws back to, with its Tommy Dorsey soundtrack and starchy table service. Lamarr was born in Austria and had a brief career in Czechoslovakia before fleeing to Paris and then London, where she was discovered by Louis B. Mayer, who gave her a movie contract in Hollywood. Gadot, whose mother’s family is Czech and Polish, her father’s Austrian, Russian, and German, would seem to be just about the perfect person to play Lamarr.

So it won’t be long now before Gal Gadot gets sprung, at long last, from the constraints and the limited range of car-chase franchises and comic-book tentpoles. But first, Wonder Woman 1984, which I see about a half hour of, under supervision at the Warner Bros. lot. Other than to tell you that it is an all-encompassing and visually stunning (and quite loud) experience, I will admit I have absolutely no idea what it’s about, except to say that it’s set in 1984 (the year before Gadot was born), has an exhilarating New Wave soundtrack, and features an oleaginous guy who may remind you of Donald Trump in his much more harmless ’80s salad days. Neither Jenkins nor Gadot would reveal a single plot point. “No one really knows that much about the movie,” says Wiig, “which is crazy in this day and age. It’s amazing that nothing’s leaked. Everything you get from Warner Bros. is sort of encrypted, like, your computer will explode if you open this.”

Part of the reason for the top-level security clearance on the project is that the Wonder Woman effect has been enormous—especially for Jenkins and Gadot.“It completely changed my life,” says Gadot. “Somehow it came out at a point in time where people were really craving it. It made an impact. And Patty and I were very lucky, I would say, that the movie was received the way it was and that it came out in the era it did, and I think we just, without even knowing consciously, ticked a lot of the right boxes. Because it was in our DNA—we didn’t have to think about it too much. We were two women who cared about something, and that wound up in the DNA of the movie.”

“I miss great, grand, blockbuster films that have all of the things that you go to the movie theaters for,” says Jenkins. “Like humor and drama and romance . . . but also weight and significance of narrative. So it’s that. I was aiming to make something big and grand but very detailed and thorough. But I also think Wonder Woman stands for something pretty incredible in the world, so I won’t say anything about the plot, but she is a god who believes in the betterment of mankind. She’s not just defeating bad guys—and that has a lot of resonance with the times we’re living in right now.”

As Gadot and I are finishing our egg sandwiches, the place begins to fill up with the lunch crowd, and I start looking around to see if there is anyone of note. We get to talking about the fine line between admiring someone from afar and being starstruck. Oddly enough we agree that we would both be nervously excited if Barbra Streisand walked in. You must get a lot of young girls who go a little Wonder Woman gaga over you, I say.

“Yeah, it happens a lot,” she says. “Pretty much constantly. My friends ask me, ‘Don’t you get tired of it? That’s your time and space and privacy. You’re not the character.’ ” It is true: At the moment, Wonder Woman is more famous than the actress who plays her. And young girls, at least for now, are starstruck not because they have met Gadot but because they have bumped into Diana Prince, the Amazonian-Olympic demigoddess. “They care,” says Gadot. “It had an effect on them; it meant something to them. And just because of that, I care for them, and I want to hear what they have to say. Often it’s about a profound effect that it’s had on their life. Usually it’s that it triggered them to make a change, to do something they would never do, to be courageous.”

A MONTH LATER, on an afternoon in mid-March, Gadot calls me to talk about the new reality we’re living in. Practically everyone is at home; Gadot’s upcoming Netflix movie, Red Notice, which she had been filming in L.A. with Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson, has been put on hiatus. Her parents in Israel have canceled their long-planned Passover visit, which was also meant to be a celebration of their 60th birthdays. “Yes, of course I miss my family,” she tells me, “but the biggest priority for all of us is to stay home, not get it, and not give it to other people. With all the sadness and all the big . . . missing that I feel, that’s the only thing we can do right now.”

Maya, her three-year-old, doesn’t understand what’s happening. “As far as she’s concerned, she’s on a vacation from preschool.” Her older daughter, Alma, is more aware. “But we talk about it in a PG way,” Gadot says. “We try to avoid watching the news when they’re around. So right now that’s the situation. We’re trying to enjoy the quality time that we have. The girls are not worried. They feel safe. I think the girls are going to grow up being able to tell their kids that they lived through the corona times. But we’re really trying to…how do you call it? Um…there’s a saying. Let me see if I can get it…Um…It’s like…something in disguise?” She pauses for a moment, and just as I’m about to prompt her, she finds the right words on her own: “Blessing in disguise.”

Gal Gadot Is Ready to Fly Again

Gal Gadot Is Ready to Fly Again

In 2017, Wonder Woman not only smashed box office records for a female-directed, female-fronted superhero film, it solidified its director, Patty Jenkins, and star, Gal Gadot, as a powerhouse duo as formidable as Scorsese and De Niro or Spielberg and Hanks. The December 2020 premiere of Wonder Woman 1984 proved yet again just how lucrative the two women are for Hollywood. When it opened on Christmas Day, the sequel became the highest-grossing film to open domestically since the pandemic began, and was streamed by millions on HBO Max. Gadot has already signed on for the franchise’s third installment and is working with Jenkins on an upcoming Cleopatra project, in which she’ll play the legendary Egyptian queen. For W’s annual Best Performances issue, the 35-year-old Israeli actress discusses her life on- and off-screen.

In the first installment of Wonder Woman, your character, Diana, is almost like an innocent child. In Wonder Woman 1984, she is much more world-weary and lonely. Was that intentional?
Absolutely. We wanted to show the price of her life—the fact that she was very isolated. She looks like a person who has it all, but everything has a price. We also wanted to set her melancholy next to the brightness and candy colors of the 1980s. And we wanted to give a nod to the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman show. But what we could not have anticipated was that Diana’s solitary life would have so much relevance in 2020. In the film, the world seems to be crashing to pieces. And now, who knows when the world is going to be healthy again.

Was it hard to fly in the film?
It was! Everything in the film was challenging, but the flying part was particularly difficult. You’re hanging on wires, and they are blowing wind at you. Stones and dirt hit you as you try to make it look effortless and fun. But we are women—we all play through pain. We do what we have to do. And then we do it again.

Did you develop any new hobbies during lockdown?
We actually bought a bread-making machine! I started spending way too much time in the kitchen. And I started having terrible accidents. I burned myself very badly, and cut my finger making a cabbage salad. So I’m now keeping away from the kitchen.

Gal Gadot on How Being Wonder Woman Has Changed Her Perspective

Gal Gadot on How Being Wonder Woman Has Changed Her Perspective

“Growing up as a woman, as girls we didn’t have this image of ourselves, a version of ourselves that is so strong, and mighty, and capable. And all of the sudden, I saw it, and it threw me off.”
From the inauguration of Donald Trump to the horrifying revelations about Harvey Weinstein and other alleged sexual predators, Hollywood, like the rest of the world, could not escape the barrage of often shocking daily news. In the midst of all that noise, some strong, positive voices emerged, and, happily, many of those voices were female. Last June, Wonder Woman, starring the glorious Gal Gadot, broke worldwide box office records. The film, which was directed by Patty Jenkins, brought women, young and old, to tears when Wonder Woman takes over the battlefield. As 7-year-old Brooklynn Prince, the irresistible star of The Florida Project, a gritty look at the dark side of the American dream, told me, “I started crying because Wonder Woman shows that you don’t need help from a man to be who you want to be or do what you want to do.” It was a message that echoed throughout the year’s best performances.

Here, Gadot talks about how playing Wonder Woman has changed her perspective, and what it was like to see people dressed like her character on Halloween.

I always ask people what movie made them cry y, and recently everyone has been saying the scene in Wonder Woman where you say, “I can do it.” What was the most emotional scene for you to film?
That’s the thing with this movie, and the mere fact that we didn’t have it growing up. I remember so many movies when men are like super leading, and confident, and they know what to do, and they can, and I remember when I was watching the movie, I got so emotional on the battlefield scene, when you see all the women ride the horses, and twirling the-their swords, and looking so strong, and beautiful, and royal, and capable. And I got so emotional, and I didn’t understand why. It was the beginning of the movie, I know where it’s going, and then I was talking about it with my husband when we got back home, and I was like, “You know, what’s the thing is that you can never understand, ’cause you’re a man. But when I was growing up as a woman, as girls we didn’t have this image of ourselves, a version of ourselves that is so strong, and mighty, and capable.” And all of the sudden, I saw it, and it threw me off.

What was the moment that you knew you made it?
I think that my moment was actually when we went to New York, and we saw Times Square and it was covered with posters of Wonder Woman. I could not believe [it]. I’ve been to New York so many times before, and I’ve been to Times Square so many times before, and all of a sudden, to be on Times Square, that was a moment.

Did you go trick-or-treating on Halloween? How many Wonder Woman costumes did you see this year?
Wow, a lot. We went for the trick-or-treating, and I had this huge mask, so I could see everyone, and just walk normally. I was fanning over them. You know what I mean? Whenever we saw a Wonder Woman costume, girl, woman, boys, it was so cool. I was like, “Oh my god, did you see?” And my daughter ran to me, and she kept on pointing out Wonder girls and Wonder Women, it was really, really exciting.

What did your daughter go as?
She was a unicorn zombie. Talk about really good costumes. [Laughs]

Did you make her costume?
No, we bought the unicorn one, and then I wrapped her up with gauze. I did the makeup, and everything. It was fun.

What was your favorite Halloween costume that you’ve ever worn?

The queen of night, the night queen. It was a black princess-y dress with tons of stickers that I glued all over m-myself of stars and moons, and stuff like that. I was seven.

What was your very first red carpet outfit?
Ugh, it was awful. Um, a purple, literally napkin, a purple, squared, um, uh, strapless dress, awful. It was for Fast & Furious 4. Awful. Awful. Really, ugh.

What’s the best advice your mother gave you?
When I was pregnant with my older daughter, from doing so many auditions, and not getting anything, I got pregnant and all of the sudden, got offers. And I got this audition, and that audition, and work started to come my way. But I couldn’t do any of it, ’cause I was very pregnant. And I remember talking to my mom, and she said, “This is just the way of the universe to show you that this is more important than anything else,” which is very true.

Gal Gadot Breaks Into Hollywood’s Major Leagues

Gal Gadot Breaks Into Hollywood’s Major Leagues

From a mere mortal’s perspective, it looks like the best gig in a gig economy: superpowers, supergadgets, and a supersecret lifestyle. Caught up in all the sexy superlatives, it’s easy to overlook the downsides of the job: constant death threats, battling evil 24/7…and the dress code? A onesie in latex or stretch polyester, which means zero carbs. And unless your superpower is bladder control—hey, have fun going to the bathroom.

These are the burdens the Justice League must bear, and with them comes an array of mental health issues, ranging from PTSD (Batman) to depression (Superman) to ADHD (The Flash) to anxiety (Cyborg) to identity crisis (Aquaman). Add an addiction (plus box-office–induced anxiety—the new Justice League film is out this month) and you’d have a codependent’s dream team.

Then there’s Wonder Woman—Diana, princess of the Amazons, she of Themyscira, an island of women living in a bliss bubble unseen by the modern warring world, which may or may not explain why she’s the only super who doesn’t need a psychiatrist.

“There’s been a fear for years of her being ‘clean’ and yet still tough,” says Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who, three-quarters of a century after Wonder Woman made her DC Comics debut, brought the superheroine’s story to big-screen life last year, starring Gal Gadot. “So many people’s assumptions about what would make a tough woman is actually a damaged woman. People were confusing strength with defensiveness, and I was like, ‘Why would she be defensive? She totally trusts people! Why would she be angry? She assumes that she’s going to be treated well. She has no chip on her shoulder!’”

Wait until she finds out she’s getting paid 80 cents on the dollar.

Unlike her colleagues, Diana is sunny-side up and gets to wear couture straight from Themyscira Fashion Week: a Roman armor-influenced, molded-resin minidress lined with faux fur, with matching over-the-knee greaves, wedge ankle boots, a flowing cape, and one-of-a-kind accessories—a magic tiara, bullet-bouncing bracelets, an heirloom sword and shield, and a golden lasso of truth.

Today being Casual Wednesday in Los Angeles, Gadot emerges, unadorned and unarmed, from a black chauffeured SUV, wearing a black button-down shirt, sky-high cutoffs, and black Gucci loafers. Her shiny black hair is in a ponytail; a tiny diamond hoop earring sparkles in the sunlight. Makeup-free, with a heart-shaped face, Cupid’s bow lips, and smiley, almond-shaped eyes, the Israeli actress looks much younger than 32. When Jon Hamm first met “this bouncy girl in a baseball cap” on the set of 2016’s Keeping Up With the Joneses, he says, “I thought she was a production assistant.”

Gadot (pronounced Guh-dote) insisted that we meet at this strip-mall hole-in-the-wall, asking that the name of the place stay off the record. “Because, as you can see, it’s small, only eight chairs. It’s amazing.”

Suffice it to say we’re at a sushi joint, and given the prices on the menu, the fish were hand-caught by Aquaman this morning. Gadot orders a beer and the omakase (chef’s choice), telling the waiter, “No salmon eggs, no sea urchin, no clams.” Same here.

“You’re gonna love it,” she says. “They take the temperature of the fish, cut the fish a certain way…remember Soup Nazi on Seinfeld? ‘No soup for you!’ It’s like that—they say, ‘No wasabi! No soy sauce!’ They manage your mouth.” She arches an eyebrow, snaps her chopsticks apart, and leans in. “Do not—do not—talk about this place.”

The accent is definitely working for her. Deep and exotic, it makes whatever Gadot happens to say funnier, or sadder, or sillier, or more serious, and overall extra-charming. Even more so when she transposes words or drops one from a sentence, or furrows her brow while struggling with a definition: “What does this mean, resolute?

“When I was based in Israel, way before Wonder Woman, way before anything, I went to my dialogue coach and I told her, ‘My objective is within a year to speak completely American English.’ She said, ‘Gal, dear’— she’s like sixtysomething years old, adorable, full of compassion—she said, ‘Gal, it won’t happen.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? I’m gonna come for three days a week for a few hours, like we make a boot camp out of it!’ She said, ‘But why would you want to do it?’ I said, ‘I’m such a niche, with my accent. I have to play the international girl. There’s no international girl in every movie! This narrows my opportunity.’

“She said, ‘Yes, but you know what? You’re special like this. Do you have any idea how many Americans there are in Los Angeles, looking for roles, who look more American than you, sound more American than you? Just be you.’”

The advice turned out to be prophetic. In 2013, Warner Bros. execs and the director Zack Snyder were screen-testing callbacks to play Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The role was small, an intro of sorts. They needed a certain someone who was loaded with charisma, beauty, strength, and grace, and who appealed to all genders—someone with chutzpah—to front a potential franchise.

“This was the very first time we put her on-camera,” Snyder recalls. “It was a chemistry test with Gal and Ben [Affleck], shooting a scene I’d scripted to see how Batman and Wonder Woman—as Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince—would look and feel when they were together. It was an intense scene, a moment where they were having a discussion about his plans and whether she would come and join him or not. The tension builds, and at the very end she says, ‘I’m not the one in trouble here, Bruce; you are.’ You really saw how she could go toe-to-toe with Ben. He was supposed to watch her go and then walk off-camera. Instead, he watched her go, slowly turned, looked directly into the camera, and made a face, a ‘Whoof, she’s awesome!’ We all knew she was the one.”

“I hadn’t seen any of her other work,” Affleck admits. “But it was clear that not only could she do it, but we really needed to have her; that she could make something great out of this character that is actually a lot harder to play than it looks. Not veering into camp or overly serious—it’s a really fine line to draw. And she’s also breaking ground as a female superhero carrying a movie. There was a lot of pressure on her.”

You’d never know it. After Batman v Superman, Gadot was in Atlanta filming the underrated spy comedy Keeping Up With the Joneses, costarring Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, and Isla Fisher. “I knew what she was about to get into with Wonder Woman and Justice League and everything else,” Hamm says. “And I just thought, Oh God, you’re about to go on the, like, 100-mile-per-hour, round-the-world rocket-ship trip. But she was so sanguine about it, and mellow. A lot of people, if they’ve got a lot going on, it leads into acting out and behaving badly. Gal, never.”

When last we left our three Batman v Superman superheroes, they’d saved mankind but were down a player, as the self-sacrificing Superman took a Kryptonite spear for the team. In the new Justice League film, the entire planet is yet again under threat, and not just from North Korea.

Duty calls, and Batman and Wonder Woman team up once more, drafting other heroes from the DC pantheon into the fight. “There’s kind of a Magnificent Seven aspect to the forming of the group,” Affleck says. And between the two lead characters, a resuming of the chemistry question: Will they, won’t they, why don’t they? Fun!

A waiter sets down two plates, each with a slice of translucent something, and barks, “No soy sauce!” “Oh, it’s so tiny and cute!” Gadot says. She pops it in her mouth, makes a big show of savoring it. “Look at us! You’re from Oklahoma!” (Actually, South Dakota.) “I’m from the Middle East. And we’re here and the sun is shining and we’re eating great food. We should be grateful.”

It was in a sushi restaurant in Atlanta that Gadot and Jenkins first met in 2015 to discuss their vision for Wonder Woman. Jenkins had been hired in a hurry after Wonder Woman’s original director, Michelle MacLaren, dropped out over creative differences. (It’s been reported that MacLaren, known for some of the most amped episodes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead, had a more badass Wonder Woman in mind.)

“Patty said, ‘What do we want this movie to be?’” Gadot says. “We agreed we had to aspire to have it be a masterpiece with a profound message—not in a heavy way, but in a fun way, an interesting way.”

No problem. Jenkins, best known for 2003’s Monster, a critically acclaimed indie biopic about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, knew the exact tack to take on the superhero project. As she’d done in humanizing Wuornos, she saw her subject Diana Prince from the inside out. “I was interested in taking a journey from her point of view,” Jenkins says. “I was just a person looking at another person and telling a story of what it feels like to be her.”

Take the emotional sequence in which Wonder Woman walks, then runs, alone across a WWI battlefield—no-man’s-land—to liberate a small town from German soldiers. She doesn’t know she’s not going to die—it’s only while fighting to survive the distance that she discovers the true strength of her superpowers. “That scene is my pride and joy,” Jenkins says. “Because it’s about her transformation into Wonder Woman, rather than us watching Wonder Woman show up.” Right there is the reason the $149 million movie grossed $820 million worldwide.

For Gadot, the scene is especially weighted. Her grandfather Abraham Weiss was 13 when the Nazis invaded his village of Munkács in Czechoslovakia. His father died fighting in the army. Weiss and his mother and brother were sent to Auschwitz; he was the only one in his family to survive the camp. Weiss passed away in 2014. “One of the stories I’m developing is about the Holocaust from a women’s perspective,” Gadot says. “I feel like this is part of my mission, to tell the story, because it was such a horror, and he always told me if you forget about your history, the history will repeat itself—especially now, with everything that’s going on.”

“Gal was perfectly cast at a time when the news is about equality and justice for females, equality and justice around the world,” says Robin Wright, who plays Diana’s aunt, Antiope, a fierce Themysciran general, in the film. “That she embodied the female superhero who represents that? That’s why it became global. It was synchronicity.”

Can you imagine Wonder Woman with an American accent? No way.

Not to be the bearer of fake news, but it’s highly likely that Gadot is an agent of the Mossad, here on a mission to recruit an all-girl Justice League. From the sketchy intelligence gleaned so far, other members probably include:

Penélope Cruz: Her favorite actress.

Wright: The star of her favorite film, The Princess Bride, had just dined with Gadot and Jenkins when she called me for our phone interview. “We said, ‘We have to do this once a month!'”

And Gadot’s Batman v Superman and Justice League costar Amy Adams? Definitely in, whether she knows it or not. “Oddly enough, I’m actually with Gal now,” Adams says, giggling on the phone as the two stars’ kids play in the background. Gadot says something, and Adams yells, “No, come on! I’m going to gush about you!

“In the first film, we only had one scene together— when Superman dies—so everything I know of her is outside of work,” Adams continues. “I’m a little shy, and Gal said, ‘I don’t care if I have to pursue you! You will text me back, and we will be friends.’ And you know what? It’s hard to say you feel flattered by someone pursuing a friendship, but I was really flattered because she’s such an interesting, well-rounded person. I’m actually holding back because she’s right here. She’s definitely girl-crush material.”

Fast & Furious director Justin Lin sensed something mysterious about Gadot from the get-go. “I still remember her audition tape,” says Lin, who gave the actress her big Hollywood break in 2009. “A lot of other actresses were playing the scene. But Gal made me feel like, I want to really get to know more about her. There was so much depth, like a life prior. There’s an unknown about her.” He chuckles, perhaps privy to the fake breaking news. “Every time I sat with her at a meal, I’d find something out: ‘Yeah, I was in the military.…’”

This much about Gal Gadot is for certain, according to the Department of Justice League dossier: She grew up with her younger sister, Dana, just outside Tel Aviv, in Rosh Ha’ayin, a small city where her father, Michael, worked as a mechanical engineer and her mother, Irit, as a phys ed teacher.

It was, by Gadot’s account, a happy childhood: “Sport was a big thing—boredom is the biggest enemy of youth. When teenagers are busy, especially with sports, they get to release all these endorphins, all the frustration or whatever you feel.” That said, she also exercised an early talent for the clandestine. “I was a really good hider! You know, skipping school; you go out and tell your parents you’re going out with the girlfriend, and you go to the boyfriend…”

A soccer-team cheerleader, basketball player, and hip-hop dancer, Gadot graduated from high school and was crowned Miss Israel 2004, before serving the mandatory two years in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a combat instructor.

Her obligation fulfilled, Gadot—at warp speed— entered law school, began modeling, left law school, and was cast in Bubot (“Babes”), a short-lived Israeli scripted series following the lives of models.

Within two years, she landed Fast & Furious. Between reprising her role in three of the franchise’s films, one small babe part led to another: Entourage, Date Night, Knight and Day, Criminal, and before you can say “Red leather, never yellow leather” five times fast—her dialogue exercise—Gadot became the most powerful movie star in Hollywood.

“My agent met her and said, ‘You and Gal have to do a comedy together,’” Adams says. “So now I’m writing a comedy for us. I’m not kidding. We’re going to pull Isla [Fisher] in, too.”

Meanwhile, back in our secret L.A. sushi location, every time Gadot tilts her head and touches that tiny diamond hoop in her upper left ear, like some agreed-upon signal, the angry waiter shows up. “No wasabi!”

Gadot got the cartilage piercing on her birthday. “I turned 28, and I felt, My God, this is a serious number— everyone has their number. I said, I’ve gotta do something to make myself feel young again. I’m too coward to do a tattoo.”

She leaves tattoos to her husband, 42-year-old multimillionaire real-estate developer Jaron Varsano. “But,” she says coyly, “I cannot tell you what they are.”

The two met at a desert retreat where Gadot, then 20, had gone to heal multiple breaks of the heart. “The boyfriend in high school I had been with for four years, we went our separate ways, and I was fine with that,” she says. “But then I had another relationship and another relationship, and they were all older than me, and they kept on breaking up with me! And I’m like a Labrador puppy—I just need to be with someone, be loved and hugged. I love to laugh. I don’t like to be by myself.

“So as a kicked puppy, I went to the desert, and I took Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose, a university psychology book. It talks about what triggers us as people, what we’re affected by, the fact that there’s no such thing as falling in love. You don’t fall in the net of love.

“Then Jaron got there with mutual friends, and we all stayed in the same area on the dune in tents. And he came, and he didn’t look at me twice. And that annoyed me”—she looks the other way. “What’s with the overconfidence?

“The food was so bad there, like super not-attractive food,” Gadot continues. “So Jaron drove to this French restaurant an hour and a half from there, and he bought the entire menu and brought it back to everyone. So we were sitting in a circle, and I’m like Mama Goose serving food for everyone and bringing them the plate; and he’s sitting next to me, and I just put my hand on his thigh, and that was it for him. We started talking until the sun set and the sun rose. The entire night.”

They have two daughters—Alma, five, and Maya, nine months—and after nine years of marriage, Gadot is still a goner. “He’s my superman, the love of my life…how far can I go with this?” Quite far.

The bill paid, Gadot winks good-bye to the chef behind the sushi bar and, in a perfect American accent, says, “Awesome, man! I loved it, dude!” She points to a sign: NO SPICY TUNA ROLL. NO CALIFORNIA ROLL. “See, I told you,” she says.

Outside, the black SUV is idling. Gadot, in a generous kidnapping attempt, offers me a lift to the hotel. Inside the car, she introduces her friend Noa Dolev, who rides shotgun, next to the chauffeur. The two women have known each other since they were eight. Dolev, 32, works for a peacekeeping organization that focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Noa was a newcomer” to their school, Gadot says. “The teacher told Noa’s mother that she should call my mother, and we should have a playdate, and that was it!”

“Yeah, and then we fell in love!” Dolev laughs.

I ask Dolev what her best friend was like growing up, and she turns to Gadot. “Can I say?”

They break into rapid Hebrew, two giggling girls.

“In school, Gal was the most friendly, very popular girl,” Dolev says. “I was the trouble one.”

“Noa is very loyal,” Gadot says, smiling at her.

As we turn the corner onto Sunset Boulevard, a 40-foot Justice League billboard looms into view. There she is, Wonder Woman, front and center. Just the kind of superhero this crazy, uncertain, perilous, spinning planet needs.

Gal Gadot Is Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot Is Wonder Woman

This is not a drill, people. More than 70 years after she made her comic book debut, and 40 years after she dazzled on TV, Wonder Woman is—at last—coming off the cinema sidelines. The anticipation among fans is palpable: At Comic-Con last July, nearly 7,000 people (myself included) were visibly restless, waiting to get a glimpse of the woman who would bring their beloved Amazon princess to celluloid life. Then Gal Gadot strode onstage to take her place alongside director Zack Snyder and castmates Ben Affleck (Batman), Henry Cavill (Superman), and Amy Adams (Lois Lane) in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. “I feel like I’ve been given such a huge opportunity to show the strong, beautiful side of women,” she said. “Finally.” The room roared. And on March 25, the revered comic book heroine will take to theaters.

It’s a career-making role for actress Gal Gadot (that’s “Gah-dote”), 30, a move she could never have imagined for herself as a kid from small-town Israel. She first dreamed of being a choreographer, then of studying law. Life took an unexpected turn when a pageant scout convinced her to compete in the 2004 Miss Israel contest, which she won and which launched a modeling career. But she slowed down on that in order to serve her two years in the Israeli army, earning a spot as a combat trainer after excelling in a grueling three-month boot camp. That physical prowess helped her portray the badass Gisele in Fast & Furious, her first Hollywood gig; she even did some of her own stunts in Furious 6. She’ll rely on that fierce strength again as Wonder Woman, a part she will inhabit for the foreseeable future. After Batman v Superman she’ll star in next year’s Wonder Woman—”Wonder Woman is getting the respect of having her own movie!” Gadot says—followed by (at least) two more spin-offs scheduled through 2019.

On an increasingly rare day off this winter, Gadot met me at a cafe in London, where she lives with her husband, businessman Yaron Versano, and their daughter, Alma, age four. It seems her days of showing up quietly to cafes are over: “Oh, my, it’s you,” our waiter stammers, as he trips over himself to bring Gadot a coffee and slice of carrot cake. In person she’s exceedingly open and warm (not many starlets offer to give you a lift back to your hotel or start scheming to set you up on a date), and she’s charmingly superstitious, knocking on wood repeatedly as she stresses how grateful she is for the twists and turns of fate that have brought her here. All right, Gal, let’s start from the very beginning.

GLAMOUR: We know so little about you. What kind of kid were you?
GAL GADOT: I really liked to perform. My mother always tells this story: I was five. They had a party, and they’d put me to bed. I heard everyone on the rooftop, and I went upstairs. No one paid any attention to me, so I took a hose and sprayed everyone. [Laughs.] Very elegant, right? “It’s meeeee! Look at me!” I loved the attention. But I never connected all the dots that maybe I should be an actress.

GLAMOUR: And yet here we are.
GG: If things had gone according to my plans, I’d be a lawyer. I never dreamt of being an actress. My mother was a teacher; my dad is an engineer. But at 18 I was approached to compete in Miss Israel. I thought, That would be a nice experience. I never thought I would win! I was shocked when they crowned me; when I went to Miss Universe, I rebelled. I was afraid I might get picked again. [Laughs.] I showed up late. I came without gowns. They tell you to come to breakfast in a gown. I was like, “No way am I having breakfast in a gown!” Who needs to wear an evening gown at 10:30 A.M.?

GLAMOUR: Did the other women hate you?
GG: No, they loved me because I wasn’t a threat. [Laughs.] I made friends with women from all over the world! And because of Miss Israel, I started modeling and traveling. It opened my mind to different possibilities.

GLAMOUR: Like all Israelis, you served two years in the Israeli army, the IDF. What was that like for you?
GG: Let me start by saying, I wish no country had the need for an army. But in Israel serving is part of being an Israeli. You’ve got to give back to the state. You give two or three years, and it’s not about you. You give your freedom away. You learn discipline and respect. [After the army] I started studying law at university. While I was there, a casting director for Quantum of Solace saw my modeling card on my agency’s wall, and I auditioned to be a Bond Girl.

GLAMOUR: You got pretty close to getting the part that ended up being played by Olga Kurylenko.
GG: It was always Olga’s. But I started going to an acting coach, then I got my first role, in an Israeli TV series. I had finished my first year in school, and I decided to stop working toward my degree when I got that project. Then that same Bond casting director cast me as Gisele in Fast & Furious—my first movie. Crazy! Whenever I met with producers, writers, or directors, I said I wanted to portray a strong, independent woman. Cut to Wonder Woman. [Laughs.]

GLAMOUR: What was your audition to play Wonder Woman like?
GG: I was in this weird career phase, going back and forth from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles for auditions. I kept getting pretty far—multiple callbacks, camera tests—then it would be a no. Over and over. I was like, “God, Yaron, maybe I should quit.” Then my agent called and said Warner Brothers wanted to audition me for something.

GLAMOUR: When did you learn it was for Batman v Superman?
GG: Zack [Snyder, the director] called before I met with Ben Affleck. He said, “I don’t know if you have this in Tel Aviv, but…have you ever heard of Wonder Woman?” My jaw dropped. I tried to sound nonchalant, like, “Oh yeah, Wonder Woman, sure.” [Laughs.]

GLAMOUR: Were there certain things that you felt were particularly important in portraying Wonder Woman?
GG: For BvS it was important for me that we show how independent she is. She is not relying on a man, and she’s not there because of a love story. She’s not there to serve someone else.

GLAMOUR: It’s pretty clear she doesn’t need help from anybody!
GG: She has so many strengths and powers, but at the end of the day she’s a woman with a lot of emotional intelligence. She’s loving.

GLAMOUR: We don’t really tend to think about superheroes’ hearts.
GG: And it’s all her heart—that’s her strength. I think women are amazing for being able to show what they feel. I admire women who do. I think it’s a mistake when women cover their emotions to look tough. I say let’s own who we are and use it as a strength.

GLAMOUR: Amy Adams seems like she’d be a good woman to have on set with you.
GG: We became friends. Real friends. All the Fast movies, I was surrounded by so many men—

GLAMOUR: Not men, dudes.
GG: Yes, dudes, exactly. I love them all. Vin [Diesel] is a great friend. But working with women is just good, you know? Both Amy and I are mothers; we went through similar things.

GLAMOUR: Does your daughter have any idea what’s happening?
GG: A little bit. If you ask her, “Where’s Mommy?” she’ll cross her wrists and say, “Wonder Woman!” And she’s seen the costume. She wanted to know why I wear a tiara and what it means for her: “Mommy, am I a princess?” [Laughs.]

GLAMOUR: What changed for you when you had Alma?
GG: Priorities. I started to choose my battles better. The Jewish guilt I feel about being a working mom is the hardest thing.

GLAMOUR: Is that something you still struggle with?
GG: I’ve gotten better. When Alma was around two, I was really anxious about how to travel with a child, moving her from one country to the other, all the different languages. It was my husband who told me: “Gal, think about what kind of a role model you want to be. If you want to show Alma that she can follow her dreams, that’s what you should do, and we will figure out the logistics.”

GLAMOUR: You married well.
GG: Oh, he’s the best man. [Knocks on wood.] We met nearly 10 years ago through mutual friends at this very strange party in the Israeli desert. It was all about yoga, chakras, and eating healthy—we didn’t exactly find ourselves there, but we found each other.

GLAMOUR: Did you know he was the one right away?
GG: I think I did, but I was too young to get it. He did! He’s 10 years older than me. He told me on our second date he was serious and wasn’t going to wait more than two years to ask me to marry him. Fast-forward two years; he proposed. We were married in 2008.

GLAMOUR: It should always be so easy.
GG: Both of us said, “No games. Let’s just be honest and keep it simple.” I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without him. Family still has to be the first priority. I have to do what’s good for my child.

GLAMOUR: And your daughter is going to grow up thinking, My mom is actually Wonder Woman!
GG: I can’t even think about it. When I saw myself in the mirror wearing the Wonder Woman costume for the first time, I was like, Oh my God. Who would have thought me, Gal, from this tiny part of the world, would be here in this room in the States in this role?

GLAMOUR: Wonder Woman fights and rides horses and wields swords and shields. What did you do to train for the role?
GG: A lot. Since I’ve started, I’ve gained about 17 pounds, and it’s all muscle. I feel so much better now. When you feel strong, it changes everything—your posture, the way you walk. I look at photos from five years ago and think, Whoa, I was too skinny. It’s not cool.

GLAMOUR: Fans are paying close attention to every detail about the movie. Do you read their Internet comments or try to shut that out?
GG: I did in the beginning. You want people to be happy! There were a lot of comments about the size of my breasts.

GLAMOUR: Did they want them bigger or smaller?
GG: Uh, what do you think? [Laughs.] I realized we can’t please everyone. In one interview I did say, “If you want it to really be true to the origin story, the [myth goes that] Amazons had only one breast; otherwise it would get in the way of the bow and arrow.” So!

GLAMOUR: Good for you! Does portraying one of the most iconic feminist figures change your own personal feelings on feminism?
GG: There are such misconceptions as to what a feminist is. Feminism is about equality. I want all people to have the same opportunities and to get the same salaries for the same jobs. I realize I’m doing what I want to do because of the women before me who laid the groundwork. Without them I wouldn’t be an educated working mother who is following her dreams; I wouldn’t be here.

GLAMOUR: At Comic-Con we both saw this traditionally male fan base embrace a female superhero, which is great.
GG: Amen! It should have happened a long time ago! Now people are looking for [a superheroine], waiting for one, and I’m so happy and grateful to be the one who is actually doing it.

GLAMOUR: Do you feel those expectations?
GG: I do. I do. But not in a bad way. I feel like, Yes, I can do it—like any man can do Superman or Captain America.

GLAMOUR: It’s pretty far from where you thought you’d be.
GG: Nothing I planned happened. But whenever opportunity arose, I was prepared and positive. And all those things I didn’t get, all those “almosts”—if I got them, I wouldn’t be Wonder Woman. What’s mine is mine, and what’s not mine was never meant to be.

Gal Gadot

Gal Gadot

I’m kind of sarcastic. Not cynical but sarcastic. I’m a goofy girl. I like to laugh and I like to make other people laugh. Gal Gadot

She may currently be best known as Gisele in the Fast & Furious franchise, but next year Gal Gadot will reincarnate Lynda Carter’s famous role in multiplexes as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Despite its title and Gadot’s one year of law study in her native Israel, the film is not, it turns out, an intimate courtroom drama concerning a property dispute between Messrs. Wayne and Kent, but rather a superhero-laden -extravaganza featuring Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill in the title roles alongside several other A-listers, purportedly including Vermont senator and noted comic-book fan Patrick Leahy.

But, as it turns out, that’s just a warm-up for the actress. In 2017, the world will be waiting for Gadot to reprise her part in a long-gestating Wonder Woman movie, the first superhero film directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins) and the first female-led entry in the genre since 2005’s Elektra (with Jennifer Garner).

All that high-flying action is no sweat for the 30-year-old actress who served her mandatory two years in the Israel Defense Forces back in the ’00s. But she also plays earthbound characters once in a while, with upcoming high-profile turns in the Ryan Reynolds-Kevin Costner action thriller Criminal (January 2016); the heist drama Triple Nine (March 2016), with Kate Winslet and Chiwetel Ejiofor; and next April as a suburban spy in the comedy Keeping up With the Joneses opposite Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, and Isla Fisher. A longtime model and Miss Israel 2004, she’s the new face of Gucci Bamboo fragrance, too.

Clearly, she has a demanding schedule. When I talked to Gadot, it was during her on-set lunch break for Keeping Up With the Joneses—at the very late hour of 6:30 p.m. Unfailingly polite, she was quick to laugh despite the seriousness with which she takes the responsibility of being a cinematic superheroine and role model around the world. We discussed how raising her 3-year-old daughter has influenced the kinds of parts she wants to play, why she prefers acting to law school, and how she nearly turned down James Bond.

TEDDY WAYNE: You’re in Atlanta now, filming. Can you describe your role in this movie?
GAL GADOT: This is the first major comedy role that I’ve done; I had a small role in Date Night [2010]. But it’s going great. I’m playing Natalie Jones, who’s married to Tim Jones [played by Jon Hamm], and they’re spies who work for the agency and are sent to suburbia for a mission. Their cover is blown by another suburban couple, Isla Fisher and Zach Galifianakis. And then everything goes wrong and it’s extremely, extremely funny.

WAYNE: So, a bit like The Americans, but comedic?
GADOT: Exactly.

WAYNE: How are you approaching comedy as opposed to the action and dramatic roles you’ve mostly done in the past?
GADOT: I love comedy. In real life I’m the type of girl who doesn’t take herself too seriously. I’m very serious when it comes to work, but I like to make jokes and have a good laugh and make fun of myself. I get to work with amazing people who are so talented and bright—Jon and Isla and Zach. And we have so much fun on set. There’s a very different vibe. This one is more about who’s going to give the best punch line, who’s going to make us laugh first.

WAYNE: How would you characterize your own sense of humor? Just about every Israeli I’ve met has a very sharp, often dry sense of humor.
GADOT: Yeah, I’m kind of sarcastic. Not cynical but sarcastic. I’m a goofy girl. I like to laugh and I like to make other people laugh.

WAYNE: Coming out next year as well is Triple Nine. That’s not a comedic film.
GADOT: Oh, not at all. I play opposite Kate Winslet and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Both are so talented. That film was also shot in Atlanta. Different vibe, very serious and dark. Kate and I had a very good bond. I’m used to shooting movies that are male-dominated …

WAYNE: The Fast & Furious films and Batman v Superman.
GADOT: Yeah. So working with Kate was basically the first time I got the opportunity to work with an actress who’s a mother, too. We had so much in common. Once you’re a parent, you already have that in common. Now I have the same thing with Isla. We always talk about the kids and how to manage working with motherhood.

WAYNE: What sort of things do you talk about?
GADOT: A baby comes with such responsibility. Once you become a mother, you always have a guilt trip. You always try to do the best, but you feel you can always be better. At the end of the day, I always tell myself that it is very, very important for me to be a good role model for Alma, my daughter. As long as she’s the first priority, which she is and always will be, it’s okay if Mommy goes to work and has a busy period, as long as I balance everything. The good thing about being an actress is that it’s very children-friendly. I can work for three months and then I can have six months off. And then I can work for six months and have six months off. It’s up to me. It’s not like being a lawyer, for example, going to work in a law firm every day, nine-to-five for years and years. When I choose a role, I always think about whether my daughter can get something out of it when she watches the movie later after she’s grown up. Or even just show her that Mommy’s doing what Mommy loves to do. And therefore, she can do what she loves to do and have a family at the same time. As long as you have your priorities figured out in a healthy way. And it also has a lot to do with my husband, who is really supportive and makes everything so much easier.

WAYNE: Are you raising your daughter in Israel?
GADOT: We’re based in Israel, but we’ve been traveling a lot. We always travel together. My daughter is always with me. My husband goes back and forth, but we spend most of the time together. And I look at that as something unique. Alma is bilingual; she understands and speaks Hebrew and English. She’s very outgoing. Going through all of these experiences and meeting new people and going to different countries and cultures, you can only gain from it.

WAYNE: Picking movies that she’ll someday be able to watch with you and from which she can learn or look up to—is that something you think about with every role? I’m sure you must get offered a lot of roles that you turn down.

Eventually, the universe will knock on your door and tell you, ‘You don’t need to be here; you need to be over there doing something else.’ That’s what happened to me. I fell in love with it and gave it my all. Gal Gadot
GADOT: Now I do. Before, I didn’t have the privilege to choose what I wanted to do. I just wanted to work. But now I’m in a position where I can actually choose. When I just started as an actress, you go to L.A. and the managers and the agency set up general meetings with directors and writers. They always ask you the same questions: “What are you looking for? What types of movie would you like to do?” And I always said, “I’m open.” I’m very open to all different genres because I’m a very open-minded girl. But eventually, I told them that I wanted to be able to show the stronger side of women. I didn’t want to do the obvious role that you see in Hollywood most of the time, which is the heartbroken girl who’s waiting to be rescued by the guy, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to do something different. Little did I know that I would land Wonder Woman not long after.

WAYNE: That is clearly a case where you can have a very strong role, not just for your daughter but for women around the world, since this will be the first female-carried superhero movie in more than a decade. You’ll become something of an emblem, I would imagine, of cinematic feminism. Do you see this as a big opportunity to advance how we portray women on the screen?
GADOT: Oh, my God, I’m so excited about this role. I feel like I’ve been given a huge opportunity to inspire people, not only women. And not because of me but because of who Wonder Woman is and what she stands for. There’s a lot of responsibility. But I have the best team and the best people to work with. It’s going to be an amazing ride, knock on wood.

WAYNE: Can you talk a little bit about what you brought to the role?
GADOT: Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to say much about Wonder Woman at the moment. But I promise we’ll do another interview later so I can talk about it.

WAYNE: Okay, I’ll use the Lasso of Truth on you. You’ll have to tell me.
GADOT: [laughs] Exactly.

WAYNE: Have you encountered much sexism in Hollywood compared to in the fashion industry? Or have you found it less difficult to navigate than you expected?
GADOT: I found it easier to navigate than the fashion industry, to be honest. Not that I’m belittling models or anything like that; it’s hard work, and it takes a lot to be a model. But at the end of the day, when you do modeling, it’s more about the story or the collection or the outfit and less about you. When you play a character, you bring yourself into the character. You get a chance to shine and show your translation for the character and her state of mind. I still enjoy doing modeling because I feel like I’m acting in some way. But I’m much more intrigued by acting. I was lucky because I had good experiences modeling. I’m a person who loves people. It’s all about the vibe of the environment I’m working in. And the people who work in the fashion industry and the people who work in the film industry have a lot in common. They’re very creative. Their eye is very aesthetic. And they all try to tell a story in what they capture, whether it’s films or campaigns or just an editorial shoot. But I just feel like acting has so much more to it. I’ve never experienced a bad situation with men being sexist with me. I’ve been very lucky—even when I was just starting and modeling in Milan and Paris. I think it was my state of mind, because I never planned on being an actress, just as I never planned on being a model. I went to law and international-relations school. It wasn’t my direction. It kind of happened to me. And because it wasn’t my dream when I started, I wasn’t starstruck.

WAYNE: How did you get started?
GADOT: I was Miss Israel in 2004. That’s how I started modeling. And then I had to quit modeling to do my service in the army for two years. Then I went to law and international-relations school. And everything went great until this casting director flew in from England looking for the new Bond girl. She saw my card on the board and she wanted to see me. My agent called me and said, “You have an audition for James Bond. They’re looking for the girl.” And I told him, “Listen, it’s all in English. I’m not an actress. I’m not going to go.” He thought I was kidding with him, because who would say no to—

WAYNE: James Bond.
GADOT: The day of the audition, he called me and asked where I was. And I told him, “I’m in school. I told you I’m not going to go.” And he was like, “What? I can’t believe you meant it, because the casting director is waiting for you. Please, you’ve got to go. Just out of respect, go.” I didn’t learn the scenes. And then I got to the room and I told the casting director, “I’m not an actress. I wasn’t planning on coming here. I apologize for not coming prepared because I’m very professional no matter what I do.” She said, “Well, I’m going to be here for four more hours. Just go through the scenes, and I’ll guide you through it.” Two hours later I got back into the room and we had very good chemistry, the casting director and I. Then I had a callback and another callback and another callback and a match. And throughout this whole process, I realized it takes a lot to act, and it’s so much more interesting than going to law school. I didn’t get the part eventually, but I told my agent, “If anything else comes up, let me know. I’m intrigued.” A month later, I landed the lead role for a TV series in Israel. And two months later, the same casting director cast me for Fast & Furious [2009]. The rest is history.

WAYNE: Did you drop out of school at that point?
GADOT: Yeah. I didn’t finish my degree.

WAYNE: How many years had you studied for?
GADOT: Just one. [laughs]

WAYNE: Any plans on going back at some point?
GADOT: I always think about that. Right now, my schedule doesn’t allow me. But I would love to go back to school and maybe study film or art history or something more in that direction. It’s not for me to be a lawyer, because I don’t like conflict. I just went back then because it felt like the right decision. I hope it’s not going to sound too spiritual, but when you’re proactive and you’re good to the world and your surroundings and people, it’s karma, and good things happen to you. Eventually, the universe will knock on your door and tell you, “You don’t need to be here; you need to be over there doing something else.” That’s what happened to me. I fell in love with it and gave it my all.

I wanted to be able to show the stronger side of women. I didn’t want to do the obvious role that you see in Hollywood most of the time, which is the heartbroken girl who’s waiting to be rescued by the guy, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to do something different. Gal Gadot

WAYNE: You said you like to avoid conflict. As you know, superhero-movie fans are notoriously finicky. They’re hard to please. Every time a big movie comes out, they quibble and grumble about certain things. I’m sure they’ll do it for Wonder Woman. Do you feel like you have a duty to respond to that?
GADOT: No matter what you do, you can never please them all. People will always have something to say because that’s the way people are. And it’s okay. But for me, it’s my job. It’s my career. It’s my art. Whatever I do, I take it very seriously and I do my research and I give it my best. I just want to be able to shine and inspire people. And it’s not just about me. It’s the script and the story and the acting. I hope people are going to love it.

WAYNE: You were in the Israel Defense Forces for two years. How did that training physically prepare you for an acting career, especially in action movies?
GADOT: Well, it’s not only the IDF. I come from a very sporty background because my mom is a gymnastics teacher. So growing up I was never sitting watching TV in the afternoons. I always played ball outside in the backyard. I was a dancer for 12 years. I did tennis, basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, you name it. I was such a tomboy. I loved sports. Now, as a parent, I feel it’s so important that we get our children into an active routine. I was a good girl because I got all of my aggression out while I did sports, so the rest of the time, you’re just relaxed and can focus. I hope I’ll be able to raise my daughter in an active, sporty world, rather than having her sitting watching TV or playing Nintendo.

WAYNE: Do you feel the military instilled discipline in you, too?
GADOT: Yeah. To begin with, I hope that no country in this world will need an army. But, unfortunately, having the reality we have in Israel, it’s a mandatory thing and you have this service for at least two years. It gives you values, like giving something of yourself, your time, your energy. It gives you good discipline, because it’s not about you; it’s about the system. And it’s not easy, either. [laughs] You don’t have your freedom and you can’t go and do what you want to do. [sings] “You’re in the army now.” But it was good. It made me more responsible and mature.

WAYNE: What was your role there?
GADOT: I was a gym trainer on one of the bases in Israel. So my boot camp was longer than other boot camps. It was four months and all about sports, waking up at 6:30 a.m. and going for a run, doing push-ups …

WAYNE: Did you receive weapons training that you could use for any of your roles?
GADOT: When I did my camera test for Fast & Furious, I had a conversation with Justin Lin and he was talking about weapons, that he wants this girl to be a pro at weapons, and asked if I ever had any experience with weapons. I told him that I used them in boot camp, so I came prepared. [laughs]

WAYNE: Do you find in the U.S., especially when you’re working on film sets, that people tend to avoid discussions of the Middle East with you?
GADOT: No. I find they’re very interested in everything that’s going on in the Middle East. It’s a very complicated situation, and I leave the politicians to do what they need to do. It’s their responsibility. But I feel like at the end of the day, we’re all people and we all have the same aspirations. We all want to be able to lead a quiet life, a good life with prosperity, and raise our children the best we can and give them everything we can. I really hope that one day soon, all sides will reach an agreement where everyone can coexist. But it’s complicated. That’s why I didn’t go to school to be a politician. [laughs]

WAYNE: On to less complicated matters, you own a hotel in Israel with your husband.
GADOT: We just sold it.

WAYNE: Did you play a role in the business when it was still going?
GADOT: At the beginning, I was very involved in the design and everything. But later on, I got too busy.

WAYNE: You’re also a motorcycle enthusiast. Do you still ride a lot, or have you cut back?
GADOT: No, not at all.

WAYNE: Because you’ve got a daughter now?
GADOT: Exactly.

WAYNE: Done forever now?
GADOT: Done.

WAYNE: I saw you posted a couple of very nice things on the internet about Paul Walker after he died.
GADOT: I did three movies with him. Every time we shot a movie, we had a break for a year or two, and then we got together again and saw everyone on the set—it was one big, happy family. It’s still hard for me to acknowledge that it’s real. I’m still expecting to do another Fast & Furious sequel. It came as a huge shock. Because who would think that it would happen the way it did? It’s just unbelievable, really. It’s so sad, and when I talk about it, I still get tears in my eyes, because he was a great man. He was an angel in life. He was so down-to-earth, so interested in everyone. He was a rare person. I still miss him and will miss him forever.

TIME’s Most Influential People 2018

TIME’s Most Influential People 2018

Gal Gadot brought Wonder Woman to millions of new fans. Her portrayal was magnificent and powerful, capturing everything that Wonder Woman represents.

She and I are lucky to be members of this small sisterhood, living and breathing this uniquely strong, smart and charming superhero. I know that as a person, Gal embodies all of these traits. She is a wife and mother; she has served her country, traveled the world, and is hardworking, loving, wise, goofy and full of humanity.

Wonder Woman has helped transform how women and girls see themselves since she emerged on a TV show in 1975. She represents what we know is inside every one of us: fierce strength, a kind heart and incredible valor. Gal understood and captured the spirit of this complex, independent, fully feminine persona. I applaud her for all of her success.