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It’s Gal Gadot’s (and Israel’s) Time to Shine

From Rosh HaAyin to Times Square, Wonder Woman has arrived

Jonathan Zalman
May 25, 2017
Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Gal Gadot in New York City, May 23, 2017.Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Gal Gadot in New York City, May 23, 2017.Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Soon, Wonder Woman will be in cinemas all over the world. It premieres in Los Angeles this week. Next week’s London premiere was cancelled due to the Manchester bombing. Here in New York, where the film will opens on June 1, Times Square is adorned with a humongous billboard of the film’s smoldering Israeli star, Gal Gadot, who is, quite simply, having her moment. You can’t manufacture this sort of excitement:

Gadot’s rise to stardom has been steady, geared mostly toward her emerging role as Wonder Woman in the DC Extended Universe, and lately, her publicists have been hard at work, peppering the news with interesting tidbits about her life in order to familiarize American audiences with the Israeli actress who is about to become a household name. Argue all you want that Gadot has been here since way back when—she has, particularly for Israeli and Jewish audiences (or Fast and the Furious obsessives who know her performance as Gisele). Far be it from me to tell you otherwise. But for most Americans—who likely don’t know that she is a former Miss Israel winner, IDF soldier, and Gucci fragrance model—I would argue that Gadot, who grew up in Rosh HaAyin, is the most well-known Israeli on the planet right now—definitely more popular than Prime Minister Netanyahu. (She is, in my eyes, the probably the most popular Israeli since Bar Refaeli.)

And so what? Well, for one, it’s about time another gregarious Israeli became a star—someone who might otherwise represent the country for its beauty and strength and class, to stand in stark contrast to its much-maligned reputation as a world power. Check out Gadot, a mother of two, on late-night TV this week with Jimmy Fallon, who is clearly in over his head when she drops an F-bomb and slyly flirts with the host and tells him that she had no idea of the part—i.e. Wonder Wonder— she had actually auditioned for.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.