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Gal Gadot

(1985 - )

Gal Gadot is an Israeli actress and model. As an actress, Gadot is known for her role as Gisele Yashar in The Fast and the Furious film series. In 2016, Gadot began playing the role of Diana Prince / Wonder Woman in the DC Extended Universe, starting with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and continuing as the lead in Wonder Woman (2017) and the sequel Wonder Woman 1984 (2020),.

In 2013, she was ranked as the second-highest earning model in Israel behind Bar Refaeli. She is the face of Gucci’s Bamboo perfume.

Gadot was born on April 30, 1985, in Rosh HaAyin, Israel. In Hebrew, her first name means “wave” and her surname means “riverbanks”. She is the daughter of Irit (née Weiss), a teacher, and Michael Gadot, an engineer. Both her parents were born in Israel, and they had Hebraized their surname from “Greenstein” to “Gadot.” Her maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Gadot stated that she was brought up in a “very Jewish, Israeli family environment.” Her ancestry is Polish-Jewish, Austrian-Jewish, German-Jewish, and Czech-Jewish. Her high school major was biology. She says that in high school she was successful at basketball due to her height.

She was ambitious and said her parents taught her to always stay focused and “be like a horse,” because “horses are only focusing on their lane, so [my parents] were like, ‘Just focus on your own path.’”

At the age of 18, Gadot won the 2004 Miss Israel competition, and next competed in the 2004 Miss Universe pageant in Ecuador. In an interview with InStyle, Gadot said she deliberately tried to lose, and did, because she didn't like that at 18 she had become a celebrity and attracted paparazzi. 

Following her participation in the competitions, she joined the Israel Defense Forces and completed her two years of mandatory military service as a fitness/combat readiness instructor. She says of her time in the army: “You give two or three years, and it’s not about you. You give your freedom away for a while. You learn discipline and respect. The things I’ve been through as a soldier prepared me to deal with career things as well.” She said, “When you’re 18, you feel like the world surrounds you. The army shows you that it actually doesn’t.”

She met her future husband while she was in the army. “He met me in uniform,” she told InStyle.  “He loved it. I still had one year left in my service.”

After leaving the army, Gadot began studying law and international relations at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya. It was when she had completed her first year of school that a casting director called her to audition for the part of Bond girl Camille Montes in the film Quantum of Solace. Although she lost the part to Olga Kurylenko, she did get a role on an Israeli television show. Later, the same casting director hired Gadot for the role of Gisele in Fast & Furious. Gadot said, “I think the main reason was that [the director] Justin Lin really liked that I was in the military, and he wanted to use my knowledge of weapons.” Gadot performed her own stunts in the Fast & Furious films.

In 2007, the 21-year-old Gadot took a part in the Maxim photo shoot “Women of the Israeli Army.” and as such she featured on the cover of the New York Post. In April 2012, Shalom Life ranked her Number 5 on its list of “the 50 most talented, intelligent, funny, and gorgeous Jewish women in the world” behind model Bar Refaeli and actress Eva Green. In 2014, Gadot was one of two Israeli actresses, along with Odeya Rush, listed as an upcoming leading lady by InStyle magazine.

She has led international campaigns for Captain Morgan rum, Gucci fragrances, Vine Vera skincare ranges, and advertised Jaguar Cars. She is the face of Gucci’s Bamboo perfume brand, of Huawei smartphones, and of Miss Sixty. She has featured as the covergirl on Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Bride Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, UMM, Cleo, Fashion, Lucire, and FHM. Gadot was the main model for fashion brand Castro in 2008-2016. In 2013, her annual modelling salary was estimated at $700,000, more than that of other famous Israeli models such as Esti Ginzburg and Shlomit Malka, although significantly less than Bar Refaeli.

In 2008, Gadot starred in the Israeli drama Bubot. She appeared as Gisele in Fast & Furious, the fourth film in The Fast & the Furious franchise, having won the role over six other actresses. In 2010, she had a small role in the action-adventure Knight and Day. Earlier that year, she appeared in the film Date Night as Natanya, the girlfriend of Mark Wahlberg’s character. In 2011, she returned to The Fast & the Furious franchise, reprising her role as Gisele in Fast Five. In 2013, Gadot played Gisele again in Fast & Furious 6.

Gadot played Wonder Woman in the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). She received swordsmanship, Kung Fu kickboxing, capoeira and Brazilian jiu-jitsu training in preparation for the role. Gadot’s performance as the superhero was hailed as one of the best parts of the film.

Also in 2016, she had a small role in John Hillcoat’s crime-thriller Triple 9, where she starred along with Kate Winslet and Aaron Paul. She also co-starred alongside Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones in the poorly-received film Criminal, as the wife of Ryan Reynolds’ character. Gadot also appeared in the comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses along with Isla Fisher, Zach Galifianakis, and Jon Hamm.

Gadot, fellow Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter, DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins and UN Under-Secretary General Cristina Gallach appeared at the United Nations in October 2016, the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Wonder Woman, to mark the character’s designation by the United Nations as its Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

In 2017, she became an international superstar with her role in Wonder Woman, which she reprised the same year in Justice League. That year she was the highest-grossing actress, earning $1.4 billion. The attention also led to the opportunity to host Saturday Night Live.

In 2018, Gadot voiced Shank in the animated Walt Disney film Ralph Breaks the Internet. She also appeared in the music video for Maroon 5's song “Girls Like You” featuring Cardi B. She also played herself in an episode of The Simpsons.”

In October 2019, Gadot formed a production company, Pilot Wave, with her husband Jaron Varsano. She told InStyle, When she began her career her goal was, “‘Get a job as an actress.’ I got that in Israel; then it was, ‘Get a job as an actress in America.’ Then, ‘Get a meaningful role.’ Now it is to tell stories that are meaningful for me, but also to develop our own thing. I want our production company [Pilot Wave] to be solid, and to use that to control my career destiny as far as I can.”

She is set to star in and co-produce an Apple TV+ limited series about actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr, as well as the Warner Bros. historical thriller about humanitarian Irena Sendler.

Gadot was named as celebrity endorser for Smartwater in 2020, replacing Jennifer Aniston. In March 2020, Gadot and a number of other celebrities performed an online version of the song “Imagine” by John Lennon, intended to raise morale in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the video was widely ridiculed for the participants’ (excluding real singers) poor voices and their “smug self-satisfaction.”

In 2018, Time magazine named Gadot one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In the same year, Gadot voiced Shank in the animated film Ralph Breaks the Internet.

Gadot appeared in the music video for Maroon 5’s song “Girls Like You” featuring Cardi B.

In 2020, Forbes ranked Gadot as the third highest-paid actress in the world, with annual earnings of $31.5 million, including $20 million from her role in Red Notice. The film, which co-starred Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, was the most watched movie in Netflix history as of December 2021.

After her movie Death on the Nile was released in 2022, it was banned in Lebanon and Kuwait because she had served in the IDF. Her film Wonder Woman was also banned.

Gadot is slated to play the lead role in a new film about Cleopatra. A third installment of Wonder Woman is also in development.

Gadot married Israeli real estate developer Yaron Varsano on September 28, 2008. The couple owned a luxury hotel in the Neve Tzedek district of Tel Aviv, which they sold to Roman Abramovich in 2015 for $26 million. The two formed their own film-television production company, Pilot Wave, in 2019.

The couple has three daughters.

Sources: “Gal Gadot,” Wikipedia.
Rebecca Stadlen Amir, “Gal Gadot is the highest-grossing actress of 2017,” Israel21c, (January 2, 2018).
Jon Caramanica, “This ‘Imagine’ Cover Is No Heaven,” New York Times, (March 20, 2020).
Naama Barak, “Wonder Woman Gal Gadot third highest-paid actress in 2020,” Israel21c, (October 4, 2020).
Chloe Melas, “‘Red Notice’ is now Netflix’s most watched movie of all time,” CNN, (November 30, 2021).
Laura Brown, “Going There With Gal Gadot,” InStyle, (January 4, 2022).
Jesse O’Neill, “‘Death on the Nile’ banned in two Middle East countries over Gal Gadot’s Israeli military service,” New York Post, (February 12, 2022).

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, by Gage Skidmore licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.