A relative unknown just a few years ago, Gal Gadot is now a household name thanks to her star turn as DC Comics’ ultimate heroine. However, her intriguing back story suggests that she’s no regular Hollywood star. Here are 20 things you may not know about the Israeli-born actress.
20. Her grandfather was a Holocaust survivor
In 2017 Gadot paid tribute to her late grandfather on Instagram in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Abraham Weiss, who was born in a small Czech village in 1928, tragically lost his whole family at Auschwitz. Gadot credited him with teaching her to “love all people for what their heart is.”
19. She served in the Israel Defense Forces
Not many Hollywood actresses have served as an enlisted soldier before making it big. However, conscription still exists in her native Israel and consequently Gadot spent two years in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a combat trainer in her early 20s. The star credits her time in the military with teaching her about respect and discipline.
18. She still supports the IDF
Gadot continued to support the Israel Defense Forces as she climbed up the Hollywood ladder. Shortly after being announced as the new Wonder Woman, she posted a picture online of herself and daughter Alma praying. The pro-IDF post received a strong response from both supported and opposed her stance.
17. She got caught up in a U.N. controversy
Gadot also found herself at the center of a U.N. controversy in 2016. The international organization named her Wonder Woman character an honorary ambassador for being an empowering female role model. However, the U.N. then reversed its decision after 45,000 people signed a petition arguing that the superhero was too “overtly sexualized.”
16. She did all her own stunt work in the Fast & Furious movies
Gadot’s military background later helped her bag the part of Gisele in the Fast & Furious films. The star made her debut in the fourth instalment. Impressively, Gadot went on to do all her own stunt work during her three appearances in the franchise.
15. She has a passion for motorcycles
Gadot was perhaps the perfect choice to appear in such a pedal-to-the-metal movie series. Indeed, as well as performing her own stunts, the actress also has a keen interest in motorcycles. She can often be seen riding around Los Angeles on her beloved black Ducati Monster-S2R.
14. She was five months pregnant while filming Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman’s costume team had their work cut out when Gadot returned to the set for reshoots. That’s because the star was five months pregnant. Consequently, a bright green cloth was used to hide her baby bump before being digitally altered in post-production. Gadot later told Entertainment Weekly that she looked like “Wonder Woman pregnant with Kermit the Frog.”
13. She also had to put on 17 pounds of muscle for the role
Gadot’s body also went through a major change before shooting for Wonder Woman began. The star packed on an astonishing 17 pounds of muscle in preparation for the role. She also trained in various martial arts including capoeira, Kung Fu and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
12. She had no idea that she was auditioning for Wonder Woman
Gadot had no inkling of what part she was going for when she landed an audition with Zack Snyder. The Batman v Superman director simply asked her to do a camera test alongside seven other actresses for the Wonder Woman role. Gadot credits listening to Beyonce with helping her to get through the difficult process.
11. Wonder Woman’s director was initially disappointed by her casting
Although Snyder was impressed by Gadot at the casting stage, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins later admitted that her heart initially sank when she found out that the actress had won the part. Jenkins said that Gadot would never have been her first choice, but that she was then blown away by the actress’s performance.
10. She’s grateful for her Wonder Woman salary
Gadot’s Wonder Woman salary made headlines when it was revealed to be just a fraction of what other superhero stars earn. Indeed, the actress was paid $300,000 for her performance. That figure is far less than the likes of Iron Man’s Robert Downey, Jr. However, Gadot claimed in an interview with TMZ that she was “grateful and happy” with the amount.
9. She met her husband in the desert
Gadot met her future husband in unusual surroundings. Indeed, the actress was introduced to real estate developer Yaron Varsano by mutual friends at a “very strange” party in the Israeli desert. The pair walked down the aisle in 2008 and now have two children, Alma and Mary.
8. She used to own a luxury hotel
Gadot and husband Varsano have enjoyed both a personal and a professional relationship. In fact, the pair owned a luxury Tel Aviv hotel that the actress also helped to run. However, in 2015 they decided to sell the property to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for the sum of $26 million.
7. Her Wonder Woman performance was inspired by Princess Diana
Gadot’s well-received performance in Wonder Woman was inspired by an unlikely regal source. The actress revealed at 2016’s Comic Con that she had Princess Diana in mind while shooting the movie. Gadot explained that she’d watched a documentary on the royal just before filming began.
6. She studied political law and science
Gadot admitted in an interview with W magazine that she initially thought she was too intelligent to be an actress. You perhaps can’t blame her for thinking such a thing. Indeed, Gadot studied both political science and law at the IDC Herzliya college before rising to fame.
5. She competed in Miss Universe
Of course, Gadot also has the beauty to go with the brains and brawn. Indeed, she won the Miss Israel pageant in 2004 aged just 18. That same year she also competed in the Miss Universe contest in Ecuador. Gadot has since claimed that she only entered the competitions to please her mother.
4. She feels ‘Jewish guilt’ about being a working mother
Gadot admits she feels “Jewish guilt” about being a working mother. The star told Glamour that it’s the hardest thing about being an actress. However, she claimed she was coping much better after her husband reassured her that by following her dreams she was setting a great example to her daughters.
3. She admits to being a control freak
Gadot has also confessed that she’s something of a control freak. Speaking to Marie Claire, the star revealed that she cares a lot about organization and keeping her house clean, in particular. She also admitted to being very competitive. “There is a part of me where everything is full-gas, achieving, wanting more,” Gadot said.
2. She was drafted by the Harlem Globetrotters
Gadot took full advantage of her 5 feet 10 inch height to become a basketball star in high school. Furthermore, she was later invited to test her skills on the court by the world’s most famous exhibition team. Indeed, in 2017 Gadot, who also enjoys tennis and volleyball, was drafted by the Harlem Globetrotters.
1. She once played a singing and dancing mermaid
Gadot may be a shoo-in for the lead role if there’s ever a live-action version of The Little Mermaid. That’s because one of her first on-screen appearances was as a singing and dancing mermaid. Sporting a seashell bra, the star performed a song called “Beloved” in her native Hebrew for a 2009 charity special.