Gadot is set to play Cleopatra in an upcoming biopic with Wonder Woman filmmaker Patty Jenkins directing.
In an interview with BBC Arabic, interviewer Sam Asi asked the Wonder Woman 1984 star, “Some Egyptians say that this is whitewashing. How do you respond to that?”
Gadot replied, “First of all if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian,” adding, “We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra.”
“To me, as a people lover, and I have friends 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 honor this amazing historic icon that I admire so much.”
She added, “But 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.”
Gadot revealed in October that she would play Cleopatra and co-produce the film. Wonder Woman filmmaker Patty Jenkins is directing the biopic.
“I love embarking on new journeys, I love the excitement of new projects, the thrill of bringing new stories to life,” Gadot tweeted at the time. “Cleopatra is a story I wanted to tell for a very long time. Can’t be more grateful about this A team!! @PattyJenks @ParamountPics#AtlasEntertainment #LaetaKalogridis.”
The casting choice received criticism with The Guardian‘s Hanna Flint calling it “a backwards step for Hollywood representation.”
Author Morgan Jenkins tweeted, “I’m sure Gal Gadot is going to do a wonderful job as Cleopatra. However, for me personally, I would love a Cleopatra who’s darker than a brown paper bag, because that seems a bit more historically accurate.”
Cleopatra was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, a descendant of Ptolemy, a Macedonian general who served under Alexander the Great.
The legendary Egyptian queen was most recently played by Elizabeth Taylor in 1963’s Cleopatra, which cost 20th Century Fox $31 million and nearly bankrupted the studio. The film went on to win four Academy Awards.