Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman: A Hamas-Bashing, Ex-IDF Soldier and Former Miss Israel
Now that the first picture has been unveiled, get to know the new Wonder Woman inBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: an ex-Israel Defense Forces soldier/Miss Israel.
During Saturday’s Warner Bros. panel at San Diego Comic-Con, the annual gathering of the nerds, director Zack Snyder unveiled the first image of Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot. The photo, depicting a sword-wielding Xena-like warrior—or perhaps, something out of Sucker Punch—drew mostly cheers from the fanboy crowd.
But the day before, Gadot drew a far more mixed reception. On July 25, the actress posted the following message to her Facebook page in support of Israel and the IDF, while condemning Hamas as those “hiding like cowards behind women and children”:
Gadot’s Facebook post, posing with one of her daughters, received 5,600+ shares and 187,000+ likes, and has received comments ranging from support, e.g. “Hamas is using the people of Gaza as pawns, as shields,” to condemnation: “Considering Israel is bombing schools and hospitals I’d say it’s pretty bold saying such things about Hamas.”
The 29-year-old actress was born in Rosh HaAyin, Israel, a small city whose name translates to “fountainhead”—her first name, Gal, translates to “wave”—and grew up in a Jewish household.
“I definitely have a strong sense of my Jewish and Israeli identity,” she told the website Totally Jewish. “I was brought up in a very Jewish, Israeli family environment, so of course my heritage is very important to me. I want people to have a good impression of Israel.” She added, “I find that people in the U.S., especially in Hollywood, tend to have positive opinions on Israel—both Jewish and non-Jewish people alike.”
Gadot also served two years as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces—conscription is mandatory, making Israel the only nation that requires military enlistment of women. There, she was a physical fitness specialist. According to a2007 photo spread in Maxim dubbed, “The Chosen Ones: Israeli Defense Forces,” Gadot said of her time in the IDF, “I taught gymnastics and calisthenics. The soldiers loved me because I made them fit.”
Prior to that, she was a fashion model for various brands in Israel, and was crowned Miss Israel in 2004 before competing on behalf of Israel for 2004’s Miss Universe. Upon completing her mandatory military service, she enrolled at university where she studied law, but then through her Israeli modeling agent, was offered to audition for the role of Camille Montes, a Bond girl opposite Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace.
“I did not get the part at the end of it, but throughout this process I started to enjoy the acting,” she told the UK blog Bring the Noise. “It was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is so much more fun than Law School!’ I said to my agent, ‘Let’s give it a try!’ A month later I got the lead part for a show in Israel and three months later this lady called and said that they were looking for the new Fast and Furiousgirl… and I tested. I had a match with Vin Diesel and it went great and the rest is history.”
As for how she landed the role of Gisele Yashar, a carjacker/Mossad agent in Justin Lin’s 2009 film Fast & Furious, Gadot said, “I think the main reason was that Justin really liked that I was in the Israeli military, and he wanted to use my knowledge of weapons.”
Gadot is also no stranger to controversy. In 2012, she appeared nude—with parts blurred out—in a TV commercial for the Israeli clothing brand Castro (she’s the face of the company). The ad proved too racy for prude legislators, and nine members of the Knesset signed a letter of protest against what they called the “pornographic commercial.”