Many attribute the success of Wonder Woman’s debut to both director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot, but what if Jenkins cast someone else in the role?
Gal Gadot — previously, many of us associated this name with Fast and Furious. In that franchise, she played Gisele, the perfect mixture of Michelle Rodriguez’s tough Letty and Jordana Brewster’s sidelined housewife Mia, from 2009-2013. However, thanks to last weekend’s stellar debut of Wonder Woman, Gadot will forever be known as Diana Prince as she joins Lynda Carter on the throne of Themyscira forever.
Now that we’ve seen it (if you haven’t, why? Also, spoilers!), it’s hard to imagine anyone else standing outside of the Imperial War Cabinet and saying, “You mean you were lying?!” in a face that only Gadot can pull off. I mean, everyone’s praising what she brought to the table and how she elevated the character. But despite the fact that Gadot seemed destined for the role, there are some that take issue with her Israeli background. Fox News pointed it out and debated it, Lebanon and Tunisia won’t show the film, and people were initially really mad at Zack Snyder for casting her. Just for reasons.
Even people including Patty Jenkins, who directed Wonder Woman and is clearly as infatuated with Gadot as everyone else, admitted to being slightly disappointed by the news.
While speaking with Playboy, she discussed her initial reaction and how her search would’ve differed from Warner Bros. and Snyder’s. I included the entire quote, because there’s no need to trim down what she said and it provides context:
"I wouldn’t have done the project if I had even the slightest problem with it. That’s how important casting is. I remember when I read in the news that Wonder Woman had been cast and my heart sank. I had been talking to the studio for so long about doing it and I was like well “that’s that.” I’m sure we wouldn’t have made the same choice. And then I started paying attention to her, and watching her and looking at her and it was just unbelievable.Frankly, I think they did a better job than I could have because I don’t know that I would have scoured the earth as hard to find her. I don’t know that I would’ve looked internationally. I would have just looked for an American girl. The fact that they found Gal and chose her is a magical gift to me. They’re incredibly intelligent people and they were looking for all the same things I would have looked for—all the values that Wonder Woman stands for exuding from someone in an honest way, and boy did they find it. She’s the greatest."
Not only does Jenkins agree that Gadot’s casting was for the best, but it’s not like the financial success of the film influenced what she says. Because afterward, she heaps praise on Gadot for what she embodies as a real person. Once she started “paying attention to her,” Jenkins understood the decision:
"She’s brave, strong, kind, loving, badass—every adjective you can think of for Wonder Woman, Gal is. Lynda and all of the world is like “Oh wonderful, carry on,” because it’s the real thing. It’s a gauntlet pass from one Wonder Woman to another."
Furthermore, below she describes how she felt the first time she saw Gadot in costume and surprise, surprise, she felt the same exact way we all did when we saw Wonder Woman on screen for the first time.
"I remember it incredibly clearly. It was the photo shoot for costuming and it was the end of pre-production, which is the ugliest time for making a movie because all hell is breaking loose. You’re just like “Fine, fine, fine go to that stage, just get this over with, I have 15 minutes…” and she walks onto the stage in the Wonder Woman outfit, and I just became 7 years-old again in two seconds. I just wanted to go up and pet her arm and touch her hair, and that was the coolest thing. That would periodically happen throughout the course of making this movie. The child in me was so there."
If you don’t dream of one day petting Gadot’s arm, you’re wrong. And while her emotions, energy, physicality and face acting really (really) sell the character, what I love most about Gadot and what made her performance so personal for me was the accent.
You can’t hear comics. Obviously, there are plenty of people who have lent their voice to the character, whether in movies, TV or games, but when I read a Wonder Woman comic, she sounds however I want her to sound. Like me, she speaks with an accent. So I’m so happy that “American” wasn’t a make or break qualifier. Plus, everyone sees her differently, and in the end, Gadot gave us the best representation of the character across the board because of her warmth, hope and compassion.
Wonder Woman faces its second weekend at the box office and stars Gal Gadot as the titular Amazonian princess.