Gal Gadot’s latest movie might be crushing it with critics and fans alike, and her star has seemingly never been brighter in Hollywood circles. But that hasn’t stopped the actress from facing some backlash around other roles she’s taking. There’s a fair amount of criticism being leveled her way over possible whitewashing in a future movie she’s set to star in. But that hasn’t stopped the actress from both sticking with the role as well as standing her ground on the reasoning behind the decision.
The hullabaloo started when Gal Gadot was cast in the role of Cleopatra in an upcoming biopic about the Egyptian queen. While the movie itself doesn’t appear controversial in any way, Gadot taking the lead did have some critics lashing out about her ethnic background as compared to the titular character. Gal Gadot is of Israeli descent while Cleopatra was Macedonian. Courtesy of The Independent, here was Gadot’s response to the backlash:
“First of all, if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian. We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra. I have friends from across the globe, whether they’re Muslims or Christian or Catholic or atheist or Buddhist, or Jewish of course. People are people, and with me I want to celebrate the legacy of Cleopatra and honor this amazing historic icon that I admire so much. You know, anybody can make this movie and anybody can go ahead and do it. I’m very passionate that I’m going to do my own too.”
While it’s tough to speculate or even confirm how actively the studio worked to find an actual Macedonian actress to play the role of Cleopatra, this response appears both firm and resolute about Gal Gadot moving forward with the part. It’s clear this is a role she has wanted to play for some time and is rather unapologetic (for better or worse) about the casting. There’s a bit of standoffishness, in the end, challenging others to make their own movie about the subject, which is likely to rub some folks the wrong way. But in terms of clarity about her plan, this leaves little doubt about the movie’s direction.
That being said, considering the amount of negative press it’s received over the last few months since the casting announcement was first made, there’s some chance of real diminishing returns here. With the public consciousness around proper casting around race, ethnicity, gender and much more across a wide range of movies, it stands to reason this issue actually only ramps up in rhetoric as the movie gets closer to release. And based on Gal Gadot’s most recent comments, the studio is likely to get vetted in some way over just how hard they tried (and presumably failed) to find that Macedonian actress.
Cleopatra will reunite Gal Gadot with director Patty Jenkins who helmed both Wonder Woman and the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984. From the studio’s perspective putting this directorial and lead actress back together makes a lot of sense, so easy to see why Gadot was the choice here. The two have collaborated on one massive hit and another one that’s headed that way as well. Wonder Woman 1984 is earning five-star reviews prior to its Christmas Day release on HBO Max.
And Gal Gadot isn’t just playing Diane Prince or Cleopatra. She’s just signed a massive deal with Skydance to star in the Heart of Stone franchise as a super-spy type. Whether this latest controversy casts a pall on that or future roles remains to be seen. Rest assured, Gadot digging her heals in around the iconic queen’s casting isn’t likely to have those detractors back off. We are probably going to hear about this for some time.