Wonder Woman Actress Gal Gadot Defends Being Cast As Cleopatra Following “Whitewashing” Controversy
Gal Gadot who is famous for her role as Wonder Woman has been forced to defend her casting as Cleopatra, the ancient Egyptian queen in an upcoming film.
The Israeli film star is accused alongside the director Patty Jenkins of whitewashing. Critics say an Arab or African actress should play the role.
Despite ruling over Egypt, Cleopatra traced her ancestry to Macedonian Greece – meaning she was likely fair-skinned like Gadot, a white, Israeli actress.
Cleopatra was the daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy XII, a member of the Macedonian Greek royal family that ruled Egypt for 275 years.
The outrage that met Gadot’s casting was ridiculed by some other social media users who were quick to point out the Egyptian ruler was actually likely ethnically Greek or Persian.
Controversy erupted in October after Gadot announced that she would star in and co-produce the film. The Guardian’s Hanna Flint called it “a backward step for Hollywood representation”, while director Lexi Alexander said a black actress should be cast, citing a reconstruction of Cleopatra’s face.
Defending her plan to play the role, Gadot told BBC Arabic’s Sam Asi:
“First of all if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian. 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… People are people, and with me I want to celebrate the legacy of Cleopatra and honour this amazing historic icon that I admire so much.”
The actress also said others were welcome to make their own films.
“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.”
35-year-old Gadot will also produce the new Cleopatra film, taking on the role made famous by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 classic of the same name.
The biopic will retell the ‘story for the first time through women’s eyes, both behind and in front of the camera,’ Gadot said.