Before she became Wonder Woman, actress Gal Gadot wasn’t even sure she wanted to be in the entertainment industry. In fact, she avoided it for a very long time. “It wasn’t like I was growing up, dreaming of becoming an actress,” she told Today. Yet, casting directors continued to knock at her door, and she was quickly bitten by the acting bug.
Though actors usually have to get themselves into character, Gadot has practically lived what she’s portrayed on screen. She’s served in the military, has two daughters for whom she’s had to become a positive role model, and can even answer questions from the press like a pro because of her beauty pageant experience. Gadot really has done it all — and she’s not finished yet.
That’s not to say that her life has always been perfect, though. Just like anyone else jumping into showbiz, there have been some bumps along the way (and no, we’re not talking about her ill-received, celebrity-filled cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine”). At one point, Gadot almost walked away from acting altogether. “I was as close as it gets,” she even admitted. However, just like Wonder Woman herself, Gadot has always triumphed. This is the transformation of Gal Gadot.
Gal Gadot grew up as a tomboy
The Gal Gadot we now all know as Wonder Woman grew up pretty far from Themyscira. The actress who plays the fan-favorite superhero was born and raised in Israel. Yet very much like Wonder Woman, even from the get-go, Gadot wanted to keep up with the boys. “I was a tomboy,” she admitted to Rolling Stone. “Always with wounds and scratches on my knees.”
Crazily enough, this superhero-in-training had heard of Wonder Woman, but her parents never really allowed her to watch television. Yet, she still seemed enthralled with performing. Gadot gave dancing a try and kept up with her classes for 12 years (via Marie Claire). Even when she was just hanging out at home, she loved to entertain her family and friends. Once, when no one was paying attention to her, Gadot sprayed them all with a hose. “I loved the attention,” she revealed to Glamour. “But I never connected all the dots that maybe I should be an actress.”
On the other hand, there were many times Gadot ignored the opportunities she was given to shine in the spotlight. Throughout her teen years, she was offered multiple modeling gigs. Yet, she opted to pick up a job at Burger King instead. Standing around looking pretty didn’t seem like the ideal occupation to her. Little did she know, doing just that would soon change her life.
Gal Gadot was named Miss Israel
When Gal Gadot graduated from high school, the future actor decided to enlist in the military. Her mother, however, had a very different idea. She thought it would be great to sign Gadot up for a beauty pageant. It wasn’t just any other beauty pageant, either. It was the 2004 Miss Israel competition, of all things. “I never thought I would win,” the Wonder Woman star told W Magazine. “And then I won, and it scared me.”
The then-18-year-old went on that same year to compete in Miss Universe, and for fear of being crowned a second time, she decided to do everything she could to lose. “I was afraid I might get picked again,” Gadot explained to Glamour. “I showed up late. I came without gowns. They tell you to come to breakfast in a gown. I was like, ‘No way am I having breakfast in a gown!'” She even pretended she didn’t speak much English so she wouldn’t have to answer any questions from the judges. Needless to say, Gadot got her way. She didn’t end up winning — but it did set her up for a stable modeling gig.
Gal Gadot had set herself up for a modeling career
After becoming Miss Israel, Gal Gadot went on to fulfill her two-year requirement in the Israel Defense Forces. Her specialty was getting the other fighters fit by teaching gymnastics and calisthenics. Yet, once again, she was being noticed for her looks. In 2007, Maxim highlighted Gadot in a feature called “Women of the Israel Defense Forces.” She modeled for a few photos for the outlet, and everyone quickly began taking notice of this stunning Israeli.
While she would have never taken a modeling job as a teen, Gadot was now all about it. After all, she had unexpectedly been crowned the winner of a national beauty pageant and had landed a modeling gig at a major magazine, so why couldn’t she be great at it? “Because of Miss Israel, I started modeling and traveling,” Gadot explained to Glamour. “It opened my mind to different possibilities.”
Gal Gadot got married
Someone else who happened to take notice of Gal Gadot was a real estate developer named Jaron Varsano. The two met in 2006 while she was still serving in the Israel Defense Forces. They both had found themselves at a very interesting party out in the middle of the desert. “It was all about yoga, chakras, and eating healthy,” the future actress explained to Glamour. When she came across Varsano, they quickly realized they had quite a bit in common. For starters, neither one knew why they were at this unique get-together. “We didn’t exactly find ourselves there,” Gadot said. “But we found each other.”
By the time their second date rolled around, Varsano admitted that he was “glued” to Gadot. As she revealed to Vogue, “By the second date he told me, ‘I’m going to marry you. I’m going to wait for two years, but we’re going to get married'” — and he was right. In 2008, the two tied the knot at an intimate ceremony in Israel.
Gal Gadot was then in demand as an actress
After making her mark in the military, Gal Gadot decided she was going to sign herself up for something new — law school. “My parents were like, ‘You need to graduate university and get a degree,'” she explained to Vanity Fair. This meant that becoming anything other than a lawyer was the last thing the movie star ever expected.
However, someone came across Gadot’s modeling headshot. It was the casting director of the James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. When her agent asked her to audition, she didn’t take it seriously. “I’m in school. I’m not an actress. I’m not gonna go,” Gadot recalled telling him, per Rolling Stone. “And he was like, ‘Just show respect and go.'”
Though she lost out on the part to actress Olga Kurylenko, the acting bug seemed to have bitten Gadot. She told W Magazine she quickly realized “acting is so much more fun than going to law school,” so she immediately dropped out. Gadot hired her own acting coach, and in 2007 and 2008, she found herself starring in her first show — the Israeli television series, Bubot (via Insider).
Gal Gadot got her breakthrough role in Fast & Furious
When it came time for casting the fourth film in the Fast & Furious franchise, Gal Gadot got a call. Coincidentally enough, the one who had invited her to audition for Quantum of Solace was in charge of this new film, too. He had his eye on Gadot for the role of Gisele, and the director of the movie seemed to agree. She was officially offered a part in the action flick when they found out that she had real-life experience with military weapons (via Vogue).
Yet, that wasn’t all. Gadot’s time in the Israel Defense Forces had a lot more impact on her role than just that. “I did most of my own stunts — like jumping from a moving motorcycle onto a Jeep,” she revealed to Marie Claire. It was important for “my character to be as impressive as the boys,” the actress added.
The blockbuster hit was released in 2009, and its success earned her a role in the next three films in the franchise, too. “It was a very, very big thing for me,” Gadot told Vanity Fair. And it was still only just the beginning of her lifelong acting career.
Gal Gadot became a mom
Out of all the things Gal Gadot has done, her crowning achievement has to be becoming a mom. In 2011, she gave birth to her first child with husband Jaron Varsano, a daughter named Alma. Having a new baby can change anyone’s life, and hers was influencing all aspects of it — even the roles Gadot was getting herself involved with. “When I choose a role, I always think about whether my daughter can get something out of it when she watches the movie later after she’s grown up,” Gadot explained to Interview magazine.
At the same time she was expanding her family, this actress was still in high demand. Her life was quickly turning into a balancing act. Gadot was away from home for months at a time filming the next big movie, and she was constantly moving all over the world and away from her little one to make her big screen dreams come true. Yet, the star’s growing family was always in the back of her mind.
“I am a very, very happy woman who can hardly wait to come home to my family every time I finish work on a film,” Gadot told Baby magazine. And over the next few years, she began debating if she should keep it that way.
Gal Gadot almost quit acting
After baby Alma was born, Gal Gadot was starting to think acting wasn’t even worth it. “Once you become a mother, you always have a guilt trip,” she admitted to Interview magazine. And yet, that was still only part of the problem. Between constantly traveling and dealing with multiple callbacks that led to nothing, being an actress became frustrating. “There’s so much rejection in this profession, and it came to a point where I was just like, ‘Is it really worth it?'” Gadot told Access.
During one of her trips to Los Angeles in 2015, she even told her husband she didn’t want to come back. Instead of forcing her family, who mainly reside in Israel, to follow her all around the world for auditions — and constantly be told “no” — Gadot thought she should give law school a second try, she explained to Today. She didn’t want to drag her family down with her, and being a lawyer is something she could easily succeed at instead.
However, her husband wasn’t on board with that idea at all. “My husband told me, ‘What kind of role model do you want to be?'” Gadot revealed to Female First. “‘You love to work, you love to challenge yourself.’ That made me realize I want my daughter to believe everything is possible.” And it’s a good thing Gadot didn’t give up just yet: Two weeks later, she would get a call that would completely change her life.
Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman
Before Gal Gadot got a chance to leave Los Angeles forever, she was asked to audition for another action movie. Luckily, she tried out for the new role — whatever it was — and later got a call from the director to discuss the part in more detail. “He said, ‘Well, I’m not sure if you have her in Israel, but did you hear about Wonder Woman?'” Gadot explained to Rolling Stone. Turns out, they were searching for a superstar to play her. It was big shoes — er, boots? — to fill, and in the end, they decided to give them to Gadot.
What began as an appearance as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016, turned into a starring role in 2017. Wonder Woman brought in nearly $822 million dollars at the box office and became the highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time (via Forbes).
Just like the Fast & Furious films, Gadot told Vanity Fair she was determined to do her own stunts to play the superhero. During re-shoots for Wonder Woman, she even fought through morning sickness with her second daughter, Maya, to get everything just right. “We cut open the costume and had this green screen on my stomach,” Gadot told Rolling Stone. Needless to say, the Justice League star gave her all to playing the iconic superhero.
Looking back, she’s certainly happy she never left Hollywood. “It completely changed my life,” Gadot admitted to Vogue.
Gal Gadot was named an Honorary Ambassador for Women and Girls
Wonder Woman made such an impact that Gal Gadot received international recognition — before the movie even came out! In 2016, the United Nations made her an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Men and women alike were applauding seeing a strong female superhero, and they were all super excited to finally see her on the big screen.
All of the attention got Gadot thinking. As she told BBC News, playing Wonder Woman “has given me a chance to think about what kind of role models my daughter, and all of this coming generation of girls — and boys — will be exposed to.” Needless to say, she’s proud to portray such a strong woman on screen. “Wonder Woman is iconic,” Gadot added. “And she does bring responsibility.” Unfortunately, not everyone wanted Wonder Woman to take on this huge responsibility.
People immediately began protesting, and a petition was soon signed by hundreds of others demanding that Gadot’s title be taken away. Many claimed that Wonder Woman’s look was impossible to achieve, and set a poor example to young girls as being “the epitome of a ‘pinup’ girl” (via Time). Within two months, the award had been officially revoked, which Gadot couldn’t believe. “There is still a long way to go because there’s no true equality yet,” she later told Vanity Fair. “If we focus our resources on this type of thing, then real change would happen.”
These days, Gal Gadot is taking over entertainment
After taking over the world as Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot decided to take creative control into her own hands. “Yes, I am an actress, but at the same time, I have this appetite to do more — bigger, deeper, more interesting,” she admitted to Vogue. In 2019, she partnered with her biggest fan — her husband, Jaron Varsano — and they started up their own production company, Pilot Wave Motion Pictures, in order to tell their own stories.
Wonder Woman also has prevailed. By 2020, Gadot had gotten herself a second solo movie. Yet, very much like her award from the United Nations, it didn’t come easily. When it came to creating a sequel to the iconic superhero film, a worldwide pandemic had hit. Wonder Woman 1984 continued to be delayed, before being set for release on Christmas Day, almost as a gift to the world (via Variety).
Obviously at this point, regardless of all her struggles, it seems safe to say Gal Gadot isn’t going anywhere soon. Wonder Woman’s fight for female equality certainly won’t be going anywhere either. “It’s not about women versus men any longer, and who is better or stronger than who,” Gadot told BBC News. “There’s enough room for all of us — and boys and girls, women and men should remember that.”
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