Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot: 'Feminism is about freedom'

We spoke to the ex-soldier and former Miss Israel on her biggest role yet

Elizabeth Weinberg/The New York Times/Redux/Eyevine
'Where are you calling from? Are you English? Is it raining? I miss London so much.' I’m on the phone to the Israeli actress Gal Gadot (pronounced Gah-dote), who’s at home in LA, technically still on maternity leave after giving birth to her second daughter in March – in true superheroine style she filmed reshoots for Wonder Woman while five months pregnant. She grew up near Tel Aviv, and dreamt of becoming a lawyer, before entering Miss Israel. A career in modelling followed, interrupted to serve her mandatory two years in the Israeli army, which means she knows her way around a fight scene.

You nearly quit acting a couple of years ago. Why?
Being an actress is tough. The amount of rejection you get can be exhausting. It was literally right before I auditioned for Wonder Woman.


That turned out well. Is it right that you didn’t know what film you were going up for?
Exactly. It was all very secretive. But without ever knowing it, I think Wonder Woman was my dream role. I grew up watching women playing princesses or damsels in distress. You had Meryl Streep and Charlize Theron, but it wasn’t common to see great roles for women.

Did you have any worries that Wonder Woman’s skimpy costume is unfeminist?
No! I loved it. I think there is a misconception about what feminism is. For me feminism is about freedom. And Wonder Woman has no issue with her body. There is no reason for her to be covered at all times, especially coming from Themyscira, a warm, hot island. Also, it’s practical to fight in.

Wonder Woman is the first female-led superhero movie in a decade. Are you feeling the pressure?
No. I’m my biggest critic but I do believe we’ve got something right with the movie. Now, all I care about is that people like it.


What did your five-year-old daughter say when she saw you dressed up as Wonder Woman?
She asked me: ‘Mommy, why are you wearing a tiara? Does it mean that you are a queen? Am I a princess?’ She loved playing with my lasso.

You won Miss Israel, but you were a rebellious beauty queen. Is that right?
I was! And I am not a rebellious person. I entered for the experience, but I never expected to win. I was afraid the same thing would happen at Miss Universe, so I did everything I could to make sure I didn’t. They ask you to come down for breakfast in cocktail gown and make-up, and that’s not me.

In the army you were a bootcamp combat trainer. Were you tough?
No! I’m a nice girl.

By Cath Clarke