Israeli actress Gal Gadot is teaming up again with “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins in a new film about the legendary Cleopatra, sparking an outcry on social media with calls for the Egyptian queen to be played by a black or Arab actress.
“Cleopatra is a story I wanted to tell for a very long time. Can’t be more grateful about this A team,” Gadot wrote on Sunday.
“I love embarking on new journeys, I love the excitement of new projects, the thrill of bringing new stories to life,” she said.
The news was met with furor in the twittersphere.
Which Hollywood dumbass thought it would be a good idea to cast an Israeli actress as Cleopatra (a very bland looking one) instead of a stunning Arab actress like Nadine Njeim?
— sameera khan (@SameeraKhan) October 11, 2020
How you gonna cast Gal Gadot to play Cleopatra when Lupita is RIGHT THERE?!?
— Justina Ireland (@justinaireland) October 11, 2020
Many, including the screenplay writer, pointed out that Cleopatra was actually a Macedonian Greek.
Cleopatra biographer Duane W. Roller wrote — a decade ago — at the Oxford University Press blog, that “it has been suggested – although generally not by credible scholarly sources – that Cleopatra was racially black African. To be blunt, there is absolutely no evidence for this.”
Cleopatra was most likely “three-quarters Macedonian Greek and one-quarter Egyptian,” and, “here is no room for anything else, certainly not for any black African blood,” Roller went on.
I'm going to say this once and I'm not going to say it again, Cleopatra was Greek.
Yes, she was in Egyptian ruler but she was Greek with Persian and Syrian ancestry. The people who are reacting negatively that to this are uneducated and uninformed.
Gal Gadot deserves this role. pic.twitter.com/7h1oYu9ClX
— The Moonlight Warrior 🌙 (@BlackMajikMan90) October 11, 2020
Cleopatra was what?!
Twitter hilariously fails at canceling Gal Gadot!
— Vielned (@vielned) October 12, 2020
Wonder Woman portraying ancient Wonder Woman. ❤️🇱 https://t.co/gCdulSTEPj
— Shai DeLuca שי דלוקה 🇱🌵 (@ShaiDeLuca) October 11, 2020
As you might have heard I teamed up with @PattyJenks and @LKalogridis to bring the story of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, to the big screen in a way she’s never been seen before. To tell her story for the first time through women's eyes, both behind and in front of the camera. pic.twitter.com/k5eyTIfzjB
— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) October 12, 2020
Gadot ranked third on a recently released Forbes list of the highest-paid actresses in the world in 2020.
It is a far cry from her “Wonder Woman” days, during which the internet swirled with rumors that the Israeli star was paid a meagre $300,000 for her reprisal of the iconic superhero.
“Wonder Woman” was banned in Lebanon, Tunisia and Qatar over the Israeli actress’ starring role.
Gadot has in the past said highlighting her Israeliness was her way of combating antisemitism.
“I receive a lot of antisemitic messages and talkbacks. But [being Israeli is] just who I am and I believe there is no reason to hide it or lie. Those who love will get it and that’s it,” she told the Hebrew-language news website Walla.
“Israel is very important to me, and I wish for our country to really be in a good place and enjoy some quiet, stability, peace and calm, because I believe in the end that all the people want it. There are no people who want war and for their sons to have to go to the army. We want it to be good here. So I try to reinforce these messages, about the good and the desire for peace and quiet,” added Gadot.