gal gadot in mad max fury road

Before she donned the trademark wrist bands and Themysciran battle armor of Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot almost made the cut to play another recent female cinematic icon, Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. Instead, it was Charlize Theron who nabbed the role and whose critically acclaimed performance as Furiosa gave her a second-wind career boost.

Alas, this was one of the rejections that almost spurred Gadot to quit the Hollywood business altogether, as she confessed a few months ago, before she landed the coveted role of Wonder Woman and stole the scenes in her debut as the female superhero in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The rest, as they say it, is history.

Gadot revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” Podcast that she was the runner-up to play Furiosa, the oil-rig driving warrior of Mad Max: Fury Road who stole the scenes from Tom Hardy‘s Mad Max in the acclaimed, Oscar-nominated action film.

She closed in on the role just off her departure from the Fast and Furious franchise, where she also played the mechnically-inclined Gisele — which may have helped put her name in the running. But despite being a player in one of the biggest blockbuster franchises in the world, Gadot was still a relative unknown next to the other actress vying for the role: Charlize Theron. Gadot told the podcast:

“I had so many almosts for big, great things, but I was never big enough of a name… It was always me and ‘the big name.'”

But things have a way of coming around, and Gadot soon landed the role of Wonder Woman in the DC Extended Universe — right before she was ready to quit the acting business and return home to Israel with her family. When Snyder told her she got the part for Batman v Superman, she was overjoyed because of “everything that [Wonder Woman] represents,” Gadot said. “For me it was like, ‘Oh, my God, that was my dream role!'”

And because Hollywood is a small world after all, connections keep turning up. Patty Jenkins, who directed Theron’s Oscar-winning turn in Monster, signed on to helm Wonder Woman‘s solo feature and Theron appeared in this year’s Fate of the Furious, the latest chapter in the franchise that helped Gadot break into Hollywood. And this is before you remember that Gadot was forced to turn down the the role of Faora, the lead henchwoman in Man of Steel, because she was pregnant. Better DCEU roles come to those who wait, it seems.

So it all worked out in the end, and now Gadot is the face of DC Film’s optimistic pivot away from its initial dark and gritty angle, gaining a larger role in the upcoming Justice League and presumably a bigger paycheck for Wonder Woman 2 after Wonder Woman swept away the competition at the box office this summer.

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