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Q&A

Gal Gadot brings Wonder Woman to life in 'Batman v Superman'

This weekend's blockbuster hopeful "Batman v Superman" may be centered on a comic-book prizefight between two men in capes, but all the world will also be waiting for the debut of Wonder Woman.

Zack Snyder's superhero slug fest will introduce moviegoers to Princess Diana, (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) the Amazonian demigod, who was created by William Moulton Marston in 1941.

Played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman is set to star in her own spinoff movie (helmed by "Monster" director Patty Jenkins), but today she's fighting side-by-side with Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill).

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Before she was wielding the lasso of truth, Gadot served two years in the Israel Defense Forces. While studying to be a lawyer, she auditioned for a Bond girl part in "Quantum of Solace." Gadot didn't land the role, but found a place in the lucrative "Fast and Furious" franchise as former Mossad agent Gisele. "Batman v Superman" will no doubt prepare her for the spotlight to come in the 2017 standalone film "Wonder Woman."

Gadot realizes the place this role occupies as a lead female presence in an overly male superhero landscape.

"I know how many people care for this character," she said in an interview with The Times. This is such an iconic character. It's as big as it gets for a woman."

What did Zack Snyder tell you he was looking for in casting Wonder Woman?

They set the ground for Wonder Woman even before they cast me. They knew who they were looking for, they knew what story they wanted to tell, and how they wanted to tell it. All I had to do was embody everything and then give my own notes and input. Working with them is such an amazing experience because Zack is the type of director who allows you to be free and give what you think is right for the character.

What did he want you to embody as Wonder Woman for "Batman v Superman"?

In this movie you get a glimpse of who Wonder Woman is — she's being introduced into this DC Comics universe. But we were talking about her strengths, her facade, her attitude. Why is she acting the way she is? He was very allowing in that he let me color her in with the colors that I thought were right for her.

So what were those "colors"?

You know Wonder Woman, she's amazing. I love everything that she represents and everything that she stands for. She's all about love and compassion and truth and justice and equality and she's a whole lot of woman. For me, it was important that people can relate to her. Being all that, I wanted her not to be too, ah, "goody two shoes." I wanted her to have this attitude. I wanted her to have a smirk when she fights Doomsday. I didn't want her to be too polished. I wanted to make her a little bit darker, a little bit dirtier. In the sense that, yes, she's still all of these amazing things. But she's been around, she's very experienced and she has her own fight.

That scene where she smiles in the battle is great, where did that come from?

I did that. I remember after we did that take, Zack came to me and he said, "Did you just have a smirk?" I said "Yeah." And he asked, "Why? I think I like it, but why?" "Well if he's gonna mess with her, then she's gonna mess with him. And she knows she's gonna win." At the end of the day Wonder Woman is a peace seeker. But when fight arrives, she can fight. She's a warrior and she enjoys the adrenaline of the fight.

What was it like putting on the Wonder Woman costume for the first time?

Tight. First time I tried on the costume was two days after they cast me. I stepped into a huge room filled with images of me as Wonder Woman, it blew my mind. But then they got me into the fitting room and we tried on the costume and it was so small, I could not breathe. I was doing my best not to pass out. Because I didn't want to ruin the moment. It was such a … but then they noticed it was too small and they adjusted it, of course, and it was great.

How does Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman differ from Zack Snyder's?

There's only so much I can say. But ... the Wonder Woman you're going to see in "Batman v Superman" is a very different Wonder Woman that you will see in the standalone movie. The Wonder Woman that you see in "Batman v Superman" is a woman who has been around, and she's very experienced. She understands a lot about man. Whereas in the standalone movie we are telling the grown-up story. Diana becoming Wonder Woman, and this was a story that was never told before. When she starts this journey, she's very pure. She's more naive, she's this young idealist who does not really understand the complexities of life and the complexities of men.

Do you feel the responsibility of this character?

Yes I do. I certainly feel the responsibility. I'm very happy and grateful for being the one who got this opportunity to tell her story. I think it's also super important that we're bringing such an inspiring, strong female role model for girls and boys to look up to. The more strong female role models we have, the better.

Everyone loves Wonder Woman, she's a superhero icon, but when did you personally fall in love with this character?

I'm so in love with her. The first time that I fell in love with her would be the scene with Bruce Wayne at the gala. That was the first time that I really felt like, "This is it. This is me bringing her back to life." And it was great.

That scene was shot a long time ago — what have you learned about Wonder Woman since then?

I've learned a lot. It's funny because I'm going through an opposite process. Usually when you work on a character you start at the beginning and then you go to the end. I started at the end and then I went to the beginning [in] shooting the solo movie. I learned a lot about her. I think that she's such a unique superhero. She has the strength of a goddess and the heart of a man. That makes her so special and relatable.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 28, 2016, in the Arts + Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Wonder Woman takes the stage - Israeli actress Gal Gadot steps into iconic role in male superheroes movie `Batman v Superman'" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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