I've learned to value my family much more during the pandemic: Gal Gadot
'Wonder Woman 1984' is perfect for our times, writes Margaret Gardiner
"When I saw the opening sequence it caught me," says Gal Gadot about Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman 1984.
"I was incredibly emotional, crying. I didn't expect to have the reaction I had. Then I realised I'd never had the opportunity to see such a thing. It wasn't Gal the Wonder Woman actress. It was Gal the eight-year-old girl seeing another eight-year-old girl doing amazing, out-of-worldly things that I've never seen before - and also she did them the way girls do them. She didn't punch in the face, she wasn't aggressive - the way men fight. We're females. We have different anatomy, we move differently, we act differently and all of a sudden to see that - I was so happy that we could bring it to the world. I'm a big believer that if you see something - you can dream it, and then you can become it. In that sequence we laid the dream for girls - to know that they're capable, they can do things that are 'out-of-worldly'."
The movie is ostensibly about the excesses of greed and the question: "What do you wish for when all your wishes are fulfilled?" Wonder Woman's love interest, played by Chris Pine, is back and the superhero faces off against a Donald Trump-like Maxwell Lord - played by Pedro Pascal - and a villainess, Cheetah, played by Kristen Wiig. The franchise continues to be a call to arms for women.
A quick recap will remind you that until Jenkins directed Wonder Woman, no woman had ever been behind a summer blockbuster, superhero movie. That Wonder Woman wore granny panties and a bustier raised expectations very high. So the fact that it was a worldwide hit opened the door for others to follow — not only behind the camera but in challenging oppressive societies that still see women in terms of possessions and ownership to change.
If the first installment of Wonder Woman had failed, it would have doomed the women who are trying to make franchises like this one and supported the idea that the superhero genre should be dominated by men.
Two years ago I visited the Wonder Woman 1984 set in London while the film was being made. This year in February I wrote a story ahead of its scheduled release in the US summer. Then Covid hit and the film bounced - and then bounced again. Finally it released this month simultaneously in theatres and on streaming platforms.
Gadot, the former Israeli army combat trainer, sounds a little sheepish elucidating. "It's going to sound a bit spiritual, so bear with me, but I feel like the universe is, in a way, protecting Wonder Woman. The first one came out when the #MeToo movement started. It was the perfect time. With Wonder Woman 1984, after having the world turned upside down because of the pandemic and all of us around the world feeling such a range of emotions, this story, when people see it, is going to resonate loudly."
Gadot, who was Miss Israel in 2004, first came to global attention in Fast & Furious, in which she performed her own stunts. The mother of two reflects on the Covid-19 lockdown. "I've learned to value my family much more during the pandemic," she says from Los Angeles via Zoom.
"The simplicity, just being home, not having to be in a beautiful hotel, in a beautiful tropical location on the beach and being served, but just being home and cooking together, spending time together playing Monopoly is a reminder that the most magical moments are the simple ones. These are the moments when we're most present and balanced."
She confesses: "My biggest goal in life is for balance. Many people, especially working mothers, can relate. When you have kids you want to be with them and spend as much time as you can with them, but you have a career and you need to show up. People are waiting. We shot the movie for almost eight months. It was very extensive, exhausting and demanding."
Gadot is also a producer on the film.
"One morning my daughter had a concert and wanted me to come watch her perform. She said, 'Why can't you just come late like other moms do?' I said, 'Because there's going to be an entire crew and they're not going to have me there to film.'
WATCH | 'Wonder Woman 1984' trailer.
"There's a price to pay always. I try to keep it balanced. I always make sure to find time to spend quality time with my girls. I aspire to find balance between my life and my working life. I witness this with many women with whom I work. Fathers too."
It's the story of modern parenting, but she must be doing a good job because her husband Yaron proposed again on their 10th anniversary. "He surprised me. He took me out for a romantic evening and proposed again."
When Gadot smiles its like a blast of goodness. "I always made fun of him that he didn't kneel when he proposed, so this time he did. It's the small moments - seeing each other and feeling each other out and asking for real, 'How are you?' and 'How was your day?' Having good communication. I can give you stories about the stuff I've done for him and the stuff he's done for me but I think that essentially at the core of it, it's just like, I care about him so much and he cares about me."
She says she never dreamt of becoming a movie star. "I loved the performing arts but my father is an engineer and my mom is a teacher. Initially, I was going to go to university," she says. She was already in a relationship with Yaron when an opportunity to be in a Bond film came along. "My response was, 'I'm not an actress, it's all in English, I'm not going.'"
After several camera tests she realised, "Wow, there's an opportunity. I really enjoy it. My husband told me, 'Gal, you can always go back to school and study but this is an opportunity, see how it makes you feel and then decide.' So I did."
Yaron, a real estate developer, is "the wind beneath my wings", she says. "I think the universe has a way of making sure that we're on the right track - all we have to do is be open to it and be proactive when the opportunity arises."
She returns to the theme of the film. Packed with action and humour, it also makes us face the insatiable greed of the species. "We're animals that always want more, even when we get everything we want, the bar goes higher and then we want more. The question is, when do you stop? What we try to say with the movie is that sometimes you already have what you need and life shouldn't be about chasing more and more. You have to be happy and content and accept the truth as it is."
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