The Israeli model turned actress reprises her role as Wonder Woman in this month’s movie of the same name. In case you’re not familiar, let us introduce you.
Israeli actress Gal Gadot may not even have been on your radar until recently; that is, unless you are a Fast and the Furious devotee. Or you have an eagle eye for hot models: Gadot, a former law student, was also a model before she became an actress, winning a Miss Israel competition in 2004 at the age of 18 and subsequently competing in the Miss Universe pageant in Ecuador that same year. She was featured in a Maxim magazine photo shoot, “Women of the Israeli Army,” three years later, which resulted in her appearance on the cover of the New York Post. Since then, Gal Gadot has been on the rise.
She’s led international campaigns for Captain Morgan rum, Gucci fragrances and Vine Vera skincare ranges, and appeared in ads for Jaguar. She’s the face of Gucci’s Bamboo perfume, Huawei smartphones and the Miss Sixty clothing label. She has been featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Bride Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, UMM, Cleo, Fashion, Lucire and FHM. In 2013, she is estimated to have earned $2.4 million alone modeling—while in the meantime appearing in both Israeli and American movies, most famously the Fast and the Furious franchise, in which she performs all her own stunts. This month, Gadot will star as the title character in Wonder Woman, a two-hour, 21-minute action-adventure pic that marks the first time a female has been at the center of a superhero film.
Intrigued yet? We figured. So we decided to familiarize you with this amazingly complex woman even further. Here are 15 things to know about Gal Gadot:
1. In Hebrew, Gadot’s first name means “wave” and her surname means “riverbanks”. Her parents were both born in Israel, and they Hebraized their surname from “Greenstein” to “Gadot.” Her maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors.
2. She’s always loved to perform. “My mother always tells this story,” she says. “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. Very elegant, right? ‘It’s me! Look at me!’ I loved attention.”
3. She has said that growing up she was a dancer and wanted to be a choreographer.
4. From the age of 20, Gadot served for two years as an enlisted soldier of the Israeli military, excelling in a grueling three-month boot camp that prepared her to serve as a combat trainer. Of her time in the army, she says, “You give two or three years, and it’s not about you. You give your freedom away for a while. You learn discipline and respect. The things I’ve been through as a soldier prepared me to deal with career things as well.”
5. She auditioned for but didn’t win the part of Bond girl Camille Montes in the film Quantum of Solace, but the same casting director hired Gadot for the role of Gisele in Fast & Furious. “I think the main reason was that [the director] Justin Lin really liked that I was in the military,” Gadot has said, “and he wanted to use my knowledge of weapons.”
6. In 2016, Gadot played Wonder Woman in the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and signed for two future sequels, including the Justice League and this month’s Wonder Woman film.
7. Gadot received swordsmanship, Kung Fu kickboxing, capoeira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu training in preparation for the role.
8. She’s the first non-American to play Wonder Woman.
9. There was so much secrecy around the Batman v Superman movie, Gadot wasn’t told she was trying out for the role of a superhero at the time of her first audition—she found out when the director called her back in for a screen test with Ben Affleck.
10. Gadot married Israeli real estate developer Yaron Varsano in 2008. The couple owned a luxury hotel in the Neve Tzedek district of Tel Aviv, which they sold in 2015 for $26 million.
11. They have two daughters, one born in 2011 named Alma, the other, Maya—whose name is Latin for “great”—born in March 2017.
12. She is a motorcycle rider and owns a black 2008 Ducati Monster-S2R.
13. In 2016, Wonder Woman played by Gadot (along with Lynda Carter) was named an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women & Girls by the United Nations, and Gadot was invited to give a speech at the UN in New York City.
14. About Wonder Woman being a feminist icon, she says: “She doesn’t see the difference in any gender, it’s not even an issue. She comes from the point where men and women are equal and it’s not a ‘thing’ to be a man or a woman.”
15. The New York Times just ran a piece with the headline: “Can Gal Gadot Make Wonder Woman a Hero for Our Time?” We think yes.
Photo: © 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC