If you haven’t heard the name Gal Gadot yet, get ready to be hearing a whole lot more of it as her star status is quickly rising. With the recent release of Wonder Woman and its tremendous success, all eyes are on the Israeli actress. The film has already grossed over $300 million in the box office and it’s only been out for a week. While the actress has previously starred as Wonder Woman in the Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, this is the first time a female superhero has gotten her own movie. Wonder Woman has also smashed through another glass ceiling by being the first superhero film directed by a woman.
Although Gal did not always aspire to be an actress and in fact, thought that she was too serious for such a profession, she was eventually invited to audition for a Bond film, which gave her her first taste of the industry. While Gal didn’t book the Bond film, the same producer then invited her to try out for the fourth installment of the Fast and the Furious movies and the rest, well, is history.
15 Gal was born in Israel
Gal Gadot was born in Rosh HaAyin, Israel on April 30th, 1985 to an engineer father and a teacher mother. Although she is of Israeli descent, her parents, Irit and Michael were both born outside of Israel and are considered Sabras by the Israeli people. Both of her maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. When asked about her background, the actress describes herself as a ¼ Polish, ¼ Austrian, ¼ German and a ¼ Czech. In Hebrew, her name translates to Wave Riverbanks (Gal means Wave and Gadot means riverbanks). When speaking about her heritage, Gal has said in an interview with Total Jewish, “I was brought up in a very Jewish, Israeli family environment, so of course my heritage is very important to me. I want people to have a good impression of Israel. I don’t feel like I’m an ambassador for my country, but I do talk about Israel a lot—I enjoy telling people about where I come from and my religion.”
14 She served in the Army
Every Israeli citizen living in Israel must serve in the Israeli Defence Forces as conscription is still in effect, and Gal was no exception. When she was twenty-years-old, Gal became a member of the military. She served as an enlisted soldier for two years and served as a combat instructor. More particularly, she trained the soldiers in gymnastics and calisthenics. She revealed to Maxim magazine that, “[T]he soldiers loved me because I made them fit.” When speaking of her time in the army, she admits it is a part of being Israeli. During an interview with People magazine, she revealed, “Part of being Israeli is to go to the army. All my friends went, my parents went, and my grandparents went.” Her training in the army also helped her with her future roles in Hollywood like Fast and the Furious and Wonder Woman.
13 She won Miss Israel in 2004
Before becoming Wonder Woman and embodying strong females everywhere, Gal represented women all across Israel as the winner of the Miss Israel pageant in 2004. At just eighteen years old, Gal beat out hundreds of other girls for the coveted title. Yet, when she went to represent Israel in the Miss Universe pageant, she began to shy away from the role. Gal has revealed in an interview that she only became a contender in the Miss Israel pageant because of her mother. “I was 18, I just graduated high school, and I had some time in between going to the army. My mom figured ‘Hey, why don’t I send your photo, you finished school and this like a proper pageant,’ whatever.” Once she got in though she began to get cold feet saying: “I got in and I never thought I would win and then I won and then it scared me. I was like, ‘What? Miss Israel? All the responsibility of being Miss Israel?’”
12 Gal sabotaged the Miss Universe pageant
After coming in first place in the Miss Israel pageant, Gal landed a coveted spot on the Miss Universe circuit. However, she quickly realized she was not up for the role and began to sabotage herself during the pageant. She said she would show up late and not comply with the rules like wearing an evening gown to breakfast. During an interview with People, Gal said, “It was too much being Miss Israel. I was 19. 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.”
11 Her military training landed her the role in Fast and the Furious
Gal has admitted that her two years in the military landed her the role as Gisele Harabo in the fourth installment of Fast and the Furious. She also played a role in the fifth and sixth installments of the film. She has revealed to the media that part of the reason she believes she got that role was that director Justin Lin liked that she had military training and had served for two years. Due to this experience, Lin encouraged her to perform her own stunts, and the actress did just that. To this day, she is one of the few Hollywood actresses to perform her own stunts. She has said in an interview, “All of the stunts on Fast Five and six, I have done myself and on Fast 6 we went crazy with the action movies. The adrenaline was just incredible, and I enjoyed being able to do the stuff that in real life you can’t.”
10 She was a model
Prior to diving into the world of acting, Gal was a successful model. After winning the Miss Israel pageant, Gal was signed with an agency. During her time as a model, she appeared in a 2007 Maxim photoshoot that was showcasing some of the women in the Israeli Defense Forces. The article was subtitled “They’re drop-dead gorgeous and can take apart an Uzi in seconds. Are the women of the Israeli Defense Forces the world’s sexiest soldiers?” Gal later went on to appear in Maxim again, but this time as an actress for her role in Fast and the Furious. During that piece, the magazine revealed, “This former Miss Israel gained fame from our ‘Women of Israel Defense Forces’ photo shoot.”Long before she became a famous actress.”
9 Gal studied law
When Gal was a young girl, she wanted to get a job as a choreographer but things later changed. Instead, she went to school to study law. After high school, she started studying law at the Radzyner Law School of the IDC Herzliya. When she was at law school, a casting director invited her to audition for a role as an actress, but at first, she was adamantly against it. She told the casting director, “No way, ‘I’m studying law and international relations. I’m way too serious and smart to be an actress, and besides, the script is all in English.’ At the time, she could speak English, but it wasn’t her first language, so she wasn’t 100 percent with it. Gal added “I spoke English, but I wasn’t comfortable with it.” Eventually, though she caved and auditioned for the role but lost out to another international female actress (see below for who).
8 Gal lost her first role to Olga Kurylenko
When a casting director saw Gal’s comp card on the wall of an Israeli modeling agency, he wanted her to try out for his upcoming blockbuster. The film was none other than the James Bond movie Quantum Solace, and while at first, she said no, she later went on to audition. Unfortunately, the role did not go to her in the end but went to French actress Olga Kurylenko. In an interview with Glamour, Gal revealed, “[the role] was Olga’s. But I started going to an acting coach, then I got my first role, in an Israeli TV series.” She was cast in a television show called Bubot in the role of Miriam Elkayam. After her first television series, Gal had the acting bug. She then went on to play in two other Israeli television series before moving on to bigger things in Hollywood.
7 She didn’t know she was auditioning for Wonder Woman
When Gal was invited to audition for the role of Wonder Woman in the Batman V. Superman installation, no one actually told her what the audition was for. Instead, director Zack Snyder asked Gal to do a camera test, which she says was torture. Talking to W, Gal said, “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 Beyoncé… Who runs the world? Girls! I just started to dance, and I let my anxiety go. Thank you, Beyoncé!” Gal jokes that she attributes her landing the part of Wonder Woman in part to Beyoncé.
6 Gal had grueling training for Wonder Woman
Although Gal had extensive training due to her military background, she was put through additional training when she was cast as Wonder Woman. The actress received training in Kung Fu, kickboxing, capoeira, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and swordsmanship. Gal talked about the intensity of the training on a segment of Live with Kelly and Ryan saying that the training was far more grueling than the army. She explained, “I was training six months prior to the shoots, and six hours a day I did two hours of gym work, two hours of fight choreography, and one and half hours-two hours horseback riding, which is super hard…It was a lot more intense [than the army].” Gal threw herself wholeheartedly into preparing for the role, and it has paid off as the film has been rated at 93% by Rotten Tomatoes.
5 Gal and Wonder Woman are breaking glass ceilings
Not only is Wonder Woman the highest rated DC Extended Universe movie ever with a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it has also had the third highest opening out of all the films. After the opening weekend had come to a close, Wonder Woman had raked in $100.5 million at the box office and $122.5 million internationally. As the first week came to a close, it had grossed over $300 million. This is also the first time that a female superhero from the DC Comics has gotten her own movie. Gal is also set to star in three more films. In addition to that, this was the first superhero movie that was directed by a woman. The director Patty Jenkins has now surpassed the best opening weekend for a female director, which was previously held by Sam Taylor-Johnson for Fifty Shades of Grey.
4 She was five months pregnant while filming
When the director needed to film reshoots for Wonder Woman in November, Gal was already five months pregnant. So the costume department had to get creative in hiding her baby bump. They ended up cutting out the middle part of her costume out and placing a bright green cloth over the bump instead, where it would be hidden in post-production. Talking about the experience, Gal said, “On close-up, I looked very much like Wonder Woman. On wide shots, I looked very funny, like Wonder Woman pregnant with Kermit the Frog.” Director Patty Jenkins reveals that Gal’s work ethic is impeccable adding, “She’s pregnant during part of the movie, in a suit out in a field in the freezing cold in others. There are so many things we asked her to do… Everyday it was a hilarious gauntlet and she would do it. Now, at least, we will be able to tell her [new] daughter Maya that she’s in her mom’s stomach right then, in the middle of that battle scene.”
3 She is married to real estate developer Yaron Versano
Gal has been married to real estate developer Yaron Versano for nine years. The couple married on September 28, 2008. Speaking about the marriage, Gal has said: “We met nearly 10 years ago through mutual friends at this very strange party in the Israeli desert. It was all about yoga, chakras, and eating healthy — we didn’t exactly find ourselves there, but we found each other. I think I [knew he was the one], but I was too young to get it. He did. He’s 10 years older than me. He told me on our second date he was serious and wasn’t going to wait more than two years to ask me to marry him. Fast-forward two years; he proposed. We were married in 2008.”
2 Gal now has two children
While filming Wonder Woman, Gal was pregnant with her second child. Gal and her husband, Yaron Versano, welcomed their first child Alma in 2011 and their second daughter Maya in March 2017. Speaking on motherhood, Gal has said, “It’s cheesy, but I feel like Wonder Woman when I give birth. When you deliver, you feel like you’re a god. Like, ‘Oh my God, I made this!’ The best thing is to become a mother and to give life.” Gal announced the birth of her second child with a sweet Instagram post of her, Yaron and Alma with the caption, “And then we were four… She is here, Maya. I feel so complete blessed and thankful for all the Wonders in my life #family #newborn #grateful.” The Wonder Woman frequently posts photos of her family on her Instagram account.
1 Gal and her husband were hotel owners
Until recently, Gal and her husband owned a hotel in Israel. The luxury property was located in Tel Aviv and in 2015, the couple sold it for $26 million. The buyer was Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich who also happens to be best pals with actor Leonardo Dicaprio. According to media reports, Abramovich plans to turn the hotel into his Israeli home because, hey, he’s a billionaire. The five-star hotel was called Varsano and was initially opened by her husband Yaron and her brother-in-law. The hotel is located in the neighborhood of Neveh Zedek in Tel Aviv. Not only is Gal Gadot soon-to-be one of the highest sought-out actresses in Hollywood following her Wonder Woman success and roles in Fast and the Furious and We’re the Joneses to name a few, but she is also a saavy business woman.