Israeli actress Gal Gadot has been in the industry for quite a while now, but she hadn't really become a household name. Sure, she was getting regular roles playing spies and similar characters, and even got a starring role opposite Isla Fisher in the action comedy Keeping Up With The Joneses, but she just wasn't quite an A-Lister yet. She wasn't the type of actress that magazines were clamouring to interview and photograph. And then, Wonder Woman happened.
Casting for a superhero movie is always a big deal, because not only are they nearly always huge budget films with big expectations, they're also often multi-film characters. Audiences love them, so studios keep bringing the characters back — after all, when you're doing films based on comic books with decades and decades of issues in the archives, you basically have unlimited inspiration and storylines.
Still, it's not an easy decision — so when it came time to cast the incredible Amazonian superstar, Wonder Woman, casting directors searched far and wide for the perfect person to play the role. And, they ended up landing on Gal Gadot — she may not have been as A-List as some of the other actresses trying out, but she had a little something special about her. It was obviously a good call, because people love her in the film.
So, in honour of her hugely successful role, here are 15 things you may not have known about the stunning Gal Gadot.
15 She Got Her First Taste Of Fame at 18, When She Became Miss Israel
Plenty of actors and actresses get their start as models or in other parts of the entertainment industry before ever stepping foot on a film set, but Gadot had a bit of a different starting point. Her mother apparently sent her photo in to the Miss Israel pageant, she got a spot, and she ended up being crowned Miss Israel when she was just 18 years old. Now, Gadot wasn't the type who was in pageants as a child and had that as a huge dream of hers — it was more of a whim, and she was just as surprised as everyone else when she got the crown. She quickly realized that the pageant world just wasn't the right fit for her, but still — that's a pretty amazing accomplishment to have under your belt!
14 She Served In The Israeli Army For Two Years, Training Soldiers
Since there aren't really that many Israeli stars in Hollywood, here's a fact that you may not be familiar with — Israeli residents are all conscripted and expected to serve for two years in the Israeli Defense Forces. There's no running off to Hollywood to pursue your dream until you give your country your time — and that's exactly what Gal Gadot did. She spoke about her experience with People saying that "Part of being Israeli is to go to the army. All my friends went ,my parents went, and my grandparents went." So, what was her role there? Well, the fit superstar trained soldiers in sports combat — and she admits that "the soldiers loved me because I made them fit." Can you imagine someone as stunning as Gadot being your training officer?
13 Before Her Acting Career, She Was Studying To Become A Lawyer
One of the great things about the entertainment industry is that people come there from all stages in their life. Many starlets pack up their bags the minute they finish high school and head off to Hollywood with a dream, and others are several years into their career before they realize that they really want to become actors. Gadot is somewhere in the middle. After she served her two years in the army, she headed off to university to study law and international relations. She planned to use her degree to become a lawyer or something in that field — a serious occupation, in her mind. However, a casting director glimpsed her photo at Gadot's modeling agency (she had done a bit of work because, hey, you need to pay for tuition somehow!) and got her to audition for a role in Quantum of Solace. She didn't get to appear alongside James Bond, but she did begin to consider a career in acting.
12 She Does A Lot Of Her Own Stunts
Even though she definitely looks physically strong, we always kind of assumed Gal Gadot would leave the stunts to a trained stuntwoman because, well, they're dangerous! Why risk hurting yourself when you don't have to? However, Gadot apparently wasn't about to give up that part of the acting experience. When discussing her role in the Fast and the Furious films, she said that "all of the stunts on Fast Five and Six, I have done myself... the adrenaline was just incredible and I enjoyed being able to do all the stuff that in real life you can't. I want to have gunshots, I want to fly up in the air, on the motorcycle, whatever. I want to do it all, by myself — no stuntwoman." Props to her — those stunts definitely took a few takes to master!
11 Her Name Has A Peaceful Meaning To It
One of the things that people notice first about Gal Gadot is her way of speaking when she's just having a conversation and not actually acting. Part of it is her distinctive accent, but part of it is just that she seems to have a soothing, calming quality to her voice that is almost hypnotic. It kind of fits with the meaning of her name, once you learn about it. In Hebrew, it turns out that her first name, Gal, means "wave," and her surname, Gadot, means "riverbanks." So her name quite literally means "wave riverbanks." Now that you know that, it kind of gives context to her soothing way of talking — it's the perfect reflection of her name! We're not sure if her parents purposefully chose a surname with that meaning, but it definitely fits her perfectly.
10 She's Been Married For A Decade Now
Hollywood is a tough place for marriages — it's a demanding industry, and with the paparazzi attention it can be tough to keep anything private. However, Gal Gadot has managed to keep her marriage strong for a decade now, which is no small feat. Perhaps it's because her partner has absolutely nothing to do with the entertainment industry — her hubby, Yaron Versano, is a real estate developer. The two also spend the bulk of their time in Israel, when Gal isn't off somewhere filming, which likely helps as well — she may have fans there, but she doesn't have hordes of paparazzi camped outside her house every day like many celebrities in Los Angeles do. She's obviously head over heels in love with her hubby, and we have a feeling they're in it for the long haul.
9 She Was In The Hotel Business For A While, Until Billionaire Roman Abramovich Bought Her Tel Aviv Hotel
Given that her hubby is involved in real estate, it makes sense that some kind of real estate investment would enter their lives at some point, but this is pretty insane. Did you know that Gadot and her hubby had a luxury hotel, the Varsano, in Tel Aviv? The duo owned the hotel and Gadot apparently was totally hands on, even changing the sheets at times. It was a joint venture that they were both really passionate about. However, when an offer too good to refuse came up, they had to take it — billionaire Roman Abramovich wanted a luxe home in Israel, and he ended up buying the hotel in order to transform it into a private residence. Gadot and her hubby ended up selling for a reported $26 million, which tells you just how insane that hotel must have been.
8 Beyonce Is Partly Responsible For Her Wonder Woman Audition Success
Apparently, Gadot was channeling some major girl power Wonder Woman energy before ever knowing what kind of role she was looking to snag. When she was in the audition process for the character of Diana, back when they were casting it in the Batman vs. Superman flick, she wasn't told who she was auditioning for. As she spilled to W magazine, "the director, Zack Snyder, asked me to do a camera test. That was torture. They were looking at six or seven girls and we were all in separate trailers and were told to stay inside until they called us. Waiting is my enemy Number One, and I was losing my mind. So, I decided to put on Beyonce...I just started to dance, and I let my anxiety go. Thank you, Beyonce!" Talk about girl power.
7 She Worked At Burger King In High School
Given that she was crowned Miss Israel when she was just 18 years old, you may have assumed that Gadot had a luxe upbringing where she didn't have to work a day in her life — and that's certainly not true. Back when she was a teenager, Gadot had the type of job that many teens have in the fast food industry. She worked the fryer at Burger King, bringing customers their steaming hot fries and other fried treats. It just goes to show that she definitely has a strong work ethic and wasn't born with a silver spoon — it's probably why she's been so successful since. She knows what it means to work hard, whether that's lowering baskets of potato pieces into bubbling hot oil, or doing a stunt on set after already spending 12 hours filming.
6 She Purposefully Sabotaged Her Chances At The Miss Universe Title
As many people know, whoever is crowned in their nation ends up going on to represent their nation in the Miss Universe pageant. So, after becoming Miss Israel, Gadot headed off to compete with other gorgeous women for the universal title. However, she quickly realized that the pageant life wasn't for her — so she apparently sabotaged her chances. As she spilled to People "I wasn't that type of girl. I rebelled. I came down late. I showed up late to everything. They make you wear evening gowns for breakfast, I didn't wear evening gowns to breakfast. I didn't wear my makeup. I remember Paula Abdul was part of the judges and she was asking me a question and I just said I don't understand. And I successfully didn't win. I really didn't want to win the Miss Universe pageant." Go Gal!
5 Her Wonder Woman Training Was Even More Intense Than You'd Ever Believe
Sometimes, it can be tough to judge how hard female actors worked for a role, because they often are in good shape to begin with, and they don't pack on quite as much obvious muscle as their male co-stars can. However, that doesn't mean they don't absolutely work their butts off in preparation for a physically demanding role — Gadot certainly did. The fact that she had a military background where she actually trained others in sport combat definitely helped, but she also trained in Kung Fu, kickboxing, capoeira, jiu jitsu and even swordsmanship. Gadot was candid about how tough it was, saying on Live With Kelly And Ryan that "I was training six months prior to the shoots, and six hours a day.... it was a lot more intense [than the army]." Talk about impressive!
4 She Once Made An Interviewer A Homemade Egg Sandwich — Just Because
Okay, we have to include this story just because it's so impossibly charming and kind of sums up the kind of person Gadot is. Many celebrities have personal chefs that prepare everything in their kitchen, but Gadot apparently likes to cook — or at least, she can put together a sandwich. When a writer for GQ travelled to Gadot's native Israel in order to interview the superstar, Gadot arranged to meet her on the beach to chat. And she showed up, in her beach gear, with a towel and egg sandwich wrapped in cellophane, which and the writer says Gadot "delivers it to me as confidently as if I had specifically requested it." She also brought a towel for the writer. It's easy to see why Gadot is so beloved — even though she's a huge superstar now, she's the furthest thing imaginable from a diva.
3 She Has Two Daughters
Women around the world took their daughters to see Wonder Woman, because it was a major moment for women in cinema. Not only did the film show an absolutely amazing female superhero, it was also created by a female director, and Diana's entire Amazonian family was strong and inspiring. It was something that all women need to see on screen. And, we hope that Gadot's own daughters will one day see what an impact their mother's role had on the world — they may be a bit too young to see it now, or perhaps it's still too strange to see their mother playing a different character on screen, but some day they'll have major bragging rights. I mean, how many people can say that their mother is Wonder Woman?
2 She Almost Got The Role of Gamora In Guardians of the Galaxy
It turns out that the role of Wonder Woman wasn't the first superhero-centric role that Gadot was in the running for. Apparently, she was on the short list for actresses considered to play the role of Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Zoe Saldana obviously ended up snagging the part in the long run, and plays Gamora flawlessly. It just proves that good things come to those who wait — while Gamora is a fantastic role, and Gadot would have likely nailed it, she suffered the disappointment of not getting that role only to be the one chosen to play the iconic Wonder Woman. Not a bad consolation prize! The list of potential stars for that role was likely even longer, given that it's basically the biggest lead in the film.
1 She Used To Be Really Into Motorcycles
Gal Gadot is endlessly fascinating — just when you think you know everything about the Israeli superstar, you learn something new that seems totally wild yet totally fitting for her. Back in her younger years, Gadot was apparently a bit of a daredevil who loved nothing more than hopping on a motorcycle and feeling the wind in her hair. We can totally see her riding around on a sleek bike, looking like a total superstar. However, motherhood apparently impacted her motorcycle riding — she just didn't feel comfortable continuing to take on the risks associated with motorcycle riding once she had a daughter. Perhaps she can get the thrill again by riding a motorcycle on camera from time to time for various roles — it would kind of be the best of both worlds!