Gadot does Wonder Woman justice
Ahead of new film, actress defends pay cheque and applauds those speaking up against sexual misconduct
Gal Gadot, mother of two and all-round Wonder Woman, said she had had only 40 minutes of sleep when she arrived at the Rosewood London hotel for our interview.
Despite her fatigue, the 32-year-old Israeli actress managed to look stunning in a bright red Alexander McQueen mini-dress. She was vivacious and chatty, though she constantly excused her English.
We were there to talk about her new superhero movie Justice League, opening here on Nov 16, where her Wonder Woman shares the screen with Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavill), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) as they save humanity once again.
The new threat is Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), an old alien nemesis that senses the world's vulnerability resulting from Superman's sacrifice at the end of last year's Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. It is up to Batman to recruit the Justice League to vanquish Steppenwolf and his superbot army.
Gadot and I had met earlier, a little over a month ago.
As part of my mandate as president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to equate it with the Golden Globes, our publicists had set up a "conversation" between Gadot and myself in New York. It touched on our journeys from other countries - hers from Israel, mine from India - to the United States, each of us today representing a well-known brand.
Gadot was self-deprecating, confessing to nerves, but there was no mistaking she is a movie star, from the paparazzi outside the venue to her entourage.
And she has earned such Hollywood status, with her solo outing Wonder Woman earlier this year earning US$821 million (S$1.1 billion) globally and a 2019 sequel on the way.
Gadot went straight into Justice League - the latest instalment of the DC Extended Universe - after finishing Wonder Woman, and her appearance in the testosterone-heavy flick will no doubt please fans who cannot get enough of Amazonian princess Diana Prince.
She said: "Wearing my costume seemed like the most normal thing because I had been doing it for six months before.
"I remember the first three days, I kept looking at all the guys and me in costume, and I just kept laughing because it felt so surreal."
And no, costume malfunctions "did not happen".
She said: "When we shot Wonder Woman in London, it was freezing because it was winter and we shot most of it out on location. When we shot Justice League, I was actually nice and warm because we shot everything on the (sound stage).
"Jason and Ben had the superhero suits, and they were all sweaty and had to put this funny (cooling) tube into their costumes. I was great. I was not cold and everything that needed to be covered was covered."
What feedback have you been getting for Wonder Woman?
Directors and actors I have never worked with reached out and said how much they enjoyed the movie. And there are the children. I went with my daughter to a gelato place, and this four-year-old girl started to go: "Diana! Diana! Diana!" (Laughs) I was like the real thing for her.
I was doing a Q&A a couple of weeks ago and one of the people there said his niece lost both her legs six months ago and she watches Wonder Woman every day and it was where she gained her strength from. We were all super emotional. That is why it is so overwhelming, because it touched many different people.
There is talk about how little you were paid - US$300,000 - for Wonder Woman.
I will say that (US film studio) Warner Bros has given me the opportunity to take this role and thrive. Without them, I would not be sitting here. Everything was under agreement and I was very satisfied and I would do it for free.
Having said that, of course there are more ways to make things better. I aspire to have everything fair, and with the success of the movie, I am sure the studio is going to do the right thing.
What are your thoughts on US film-maker James Cameron's remarks, that praise for Wonder Woman was "misguided" because it was not ground-breaking and you were overly sexualised?
Yes, (also) that a strong woman (needs to come) from a very broken background, which is odd. I thought about commenting, but I did not.
I do not know why it was so important for him to say that and I disagree with everything he said. I am a big fan of his work and I was surprised to read that. But I was like, so you are trying to use the publicity for your own movie now?
Are you surprised about the allegations in Hollywood about sexual misconduct?
Yes, I did not know. I never had such an experience. I am happy that there is this trend now, that women and men are speaking up about what they have been through, because I think that the whole mentality of using your power in order to gain something in a manipulative way is not okay.
You seem to be Wonder Woman in real life, juggling a career and (bringing up) two daughters aged six and eight months.
It is a constant battle. There is this guilt that you are not enough of a mum when you work, and you are not enough of an actress when you are home.
I remember working with (English actress) Kate Winslet, who has three kids from three different dads, and I was like: "How do you do that?" And she said: "Honestly, there is no one formula that works for everyone." She takes it one project at a time and that is what I do. And I try to be the best that I can in whatever I do.