It was announced in October the Israeli actress will play the title role in Patty Jenkins’s take on Cleopatra, which Gadot will co-produce. The casting sparked a heated debate online whether Gadot was fit to play the ancient Egyptian queen. Some called it “whitewashing” and that the title role should be played by an Arab or African actress.
During an interview with BBC Arabic’s Sam Asi, the Wonder Woman 1984 star responded to the controversy.
“First of all if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian,” Gadot said of the “whitewashing” backlash.
Cleopatra’s ancestry has been a widely debated topic for decades, which resurfaced in the wake of Gadot’s casting.
“We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra,” Gadot said.
“I have friends from across the globe, whether they’re Muslims or Christian or Catholic or atheist or Buddhist or Jewish, of course” she continued. “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.”
Gadot said other people are welcome to make their own films about Cleopatra.
“But, you know, anybody can make this movie and anybody can go ahead and do it,” she said. “I’m very passionate that I’m going to do my own, too.”
Cleopatra has typically been portrayed in Hollywood by white actresses, most notably Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 film of the same name.
Along with Jenkins, director of the Wonder Woman films, Alexander screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis has signed on to the project. Gadot said they plan to tell Cleopatra’s story in a way that hasn’t been done before as it will be from the perspective of women.
And we are especially thrilled to be announcing this on #InternationalDayoftheGirl
We hope women and girls all around the world, who aspire to tell stories will never give up on their dreams and will make their voices heard, by and for other women.
— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) October 12, 2020
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