The release of “Wonder Woman 1984” this week marks the second collaboration between director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot, but it won’t be the last. News broke in October that Jenkins and Gadot are teaming with Paramount Pictures for a new film about Cleopatra, starring Gadot as the Egyptian queen. The casting generated backlash as Gadot is an Israeli actress set to play a mixed race historical figure. The outrage mirrored the whitewashing of Cleopatra in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1963 film by casting Elizabeth Taylor in the title role. In a new interview with BBC Arabic (via The Independent), Gadot defended taking on the role of Cleopatra.
“First of all, if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian,” Gadot told BBC Arabic host Sam Asi. “We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra.”
“I have friends from across the globe, whether they’re Muslims or Christian or Catholic or atheist or Buddhist, or Jewish of course,” Gadot 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 concluded by saying other filmmakers and actors can tackle Cleopatra with their own film adaptations if they have an issue with her interpretation, adding, “You know, anybody can make this movie and anybody can go ahead and do it. I’m very passionate that I’m going to do my own too.”
Hollywood has long expressed interest in mounting a Cleopatra tentpole. Screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis, best known for penning Oliver Stone’s epic “Alexander” and Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” is working on Gadot and Jenkins’ Paramount movie, which is separate from the Cleopatra film that has long sat in development hell over at Sony. Producers Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin tried to get a Sony film off the ground based on Stacy Schiff’s biography, courting actress Angelina Jolie and directors such as James Cameron, Denis Villeneuve, and David Fincher over the years.
The Cleopatra movie is one of two major tentpoles Jenkins has lined up on her docket following the release of “Wonder Woman 1984.” In addition to reuniting with Gadot for the Egyptian queen epic, the filmmaker will also head to Lucasfilm to direct the “Star Wars” movie “Rogue Squadron.”