Gal Gadot Is Unafraid to Face Industry Injustice

She’s best known for playing a heroine who can teleport and fly. But the star’s biggest superpower is her willingness to stand up—for herself and othersBy Véronique Hyland and Photographed by Greg Williams. Styled by Elizabeth Stewart.Published: Oct 18, 2021 8:00 AM EDT

Greg Williams

Cardigan, $1,790, bodysuit, $2,490, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello. Tights, Falke, $35. Hoop earrings, Tiffany & Co., $650. Pumps, Jimmy Choo, $595.

Gal Gadot insists she doesn’t like conflict. Hates it, in fact. While she once harbored fantasies of becoming a “full-blown Ally McBeal type,” she left law school after only a year. “The thought now of me being a lawyer,” she says, her head filled with visions of courtroom soliloquies and miniskirt suits, “dealing with conflict all the time, it’s not for me.”

It’s hard to square that with her image as Hollywood’s go-to action heroine. Whether she’s lassoing bad guys as Wonder Woman or, in her new movie Red Notice, wielding an electrocution device as casually as a Jacquemus minibag, she doesn’t exactly seem to dread onscreen contretemps. (Stunt-wise, she says, “I do whatever the insurance allows me to do.”) But offscreen, Gadot does come across as almost preternaturally low-key, mimicking her wide-eyed observation in her early acting days: “ ‘And you get paid for it? Ooh, I’m in. Sign me up.’ ”

If only it were all that easy. After being cast in 2009’s Fast & Furious, she kept auditioning until “I got tired of trying,” she says. Just when she’d almost given up, she landed the part of Wonder Woman. As a kid in Israel, Gadot was too young to watch the Lynda Carter TV version; she describes her young self as“[not] a big fan of comic books.” But she knew that a female-fronted superhero movie would be a watershed moment. A blockbuster centered on the character was “overdue,” she says. “People were craving her story.” For the first film, her salary was a mere (by Hollywood standards) $300,000. At the time, “I was extremely grateful. That was my big break.” Then the movie made over $800 million. When the sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, came along, “if you look at it like a card game, my hand got better. I was willing to drop the ball and not do it if I wasn’t paid fairly.” She made a reported 30-plus times that salary for the follow-up. Given her aversion to conflict, was she scared about playing hardball? “No, because when I’m righteous, I’m also right.”

Another instance of her righteousness, and rightness: speaking up about mistreatment by Joss Whedon on the set of Justice League. (A Hollywood Reporter story alleged that Whedon verbally abused Gadot when she shared concerns about her character and dialogue. Whedon declined to comment for that story. While his on-set remarks haven’t been made public, Gadot said on Israeli TV in May that Whedon “kind of threatened my career and said if I did something, he would make my career miserable.”) Asked about her initial reaction to those comments, she says, “Oh, I was shaking trees as soon as it happened. And I must say that the heads of Warner Brothers, they took care of it…. Going back to the sense of righteousness that I have…you’re dizzy because you can’t believe this was just said to you. And if he says it to me, then obviously he says it to many other people. I just did what I felt like I had to do. And it was to tell people that it’s not okay.

Greg Williams

Coat, Ralph Lauren Collection, $2,490. Bodysuit, Wolford, $195. Tights, Falke, $35. Earrings, Tiffany & Co., $1,200.

BEAUTY TIP: Heat protection is no laughing matter—try Fekkai Brilliant Gloss Multi-Tasker Perfecting Crème to not only shield your strands from styling damage but boost shine.

“I would’ve done the same thing, I think, if I was a man. Would he tell me what he told me had I been a man? I don’t know. We’ll never know. But my sense of justice is very strong. I was shocked by the way that he spoke to me. But whatever, it’s done. Water under the bridge.” Her friend and Wonder Woman 1984 co-star Kristen Wiig observes that Gadot is unafraid to advocate for herself. “When she needs to wear that hat, she is very clear on what is right. People who think she’s just a pretty face are dead wrong.”

In Red Notice, she takes a break from the heroine template to play an art thief who is “not a goody two-shoes. Her agenda is not pure like some other characters I play.” The part required her to face off with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. (“He’s a gigantic rock with the softest, sweet heart,” she coos. “It’s like butter from within.”) Their costar Ryan Reynolds confirms, “She can go toe to toe with pretty much anybody, even a skin-covered mountain like Dwayne Johnson.” The role affords her some comedic moments, too. “Gal is incredibly adept at comedy,” Reynolds says. “She can go big when she needs to; she can reel it in when she needs to.” She’s also stretching her period-drama muscles with Kenneth Branagh’s latest Agatha Christie adaptation, Death on the Nile. (Fun Gal Gadot data point: She’s a huge Christie fan.)

Now that she’s lassoed Hollywood, Gadot is focused on her passion projects. Through her production company, Pilot Wave (which she cofounded with her husband, Jaron Varsano), she’s developing a Cleopatra film. The famed ruler was an “icon” for her when she was a child growing up in the Middle East. While it’s hardly Hollywood’s first attempt at depicting Cleopatra, “her story needs to be told in a different way, in the real way, where it celebrates who she was.” She’s also producing and starring in a Hedy Lamarr limited series for AppleTV+ that will explore the Old Hollywood star’s lesser-known role as an inventor. In an era when “women weren’t really allowed to wear pants…she not only wore pants, but she invented things.” Beautiful, brilliant, underestimated at one’s peril? Sounds like the ultimate Gal Gadot heroine.

Greg Williams

Hair by Renato Campora for Fekkai; Makeup by Sabrina Bedrani for Dior Beauty; Manicure by Shigeko Taylor for Dior Vernis; Produced by Jonathan Bossle at Tightrope Production.

Scroll to Top