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Gal Gadot Responds to Cleopatra Whitewashing Accusations


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Gal Gadot responded to accusations that her being cast in the upcoming Cleopatra was whitewashing the historical figure. Gadot is slated to star in an upcoming adaptation of the historical figure's life for her third collaboration with director Patty Jenkins, who is helming the film. Gadot and Jenkins previously worked together on 2017's Wonder Woman and its upcoming sequel, Wonder Woman 1984.

When the casting was announced, Gadot was called out for taking on the titular role. Detractors say that her casting willfully ignores Cleopatra's mixed-race origins. Another white actress has already famously played the part. Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra in the eponymous 1963 film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. At the time, it was one of the most expensive movies ever made, nearly bankrupting 20th Century Fox.

Gadot ultimately defended her decision to take the role to BBC Arabic (via The Independent). The actress says that Cleopatra was of Macedonian descent and that the production couldn't find an actress who fit the part. She goes on to say that the film is a major passion project of hers. She says that if people have an issue with her casting, they can go ahead and make their versions.

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 honor this amazing historic icon that I admire so much. 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.


The actress' response is unfortunate. Her claim that they couldn't find a Macedonian actress to fill the role sounds like the typical excuse used to justify castings like this. When people respond by saying they couldn't find a specific type of person to fit, it usually means they didn't look hard enough. Hollywood has long tried to get another historically accurate Cleopatra film off the ground, with many names attached to star and direct a feature based on the figure.

Adding to the confusion is the continued debate around Cleopatra's true ancestry. Some historians have claimed she is of mixed race origin, while others say conclusively that the historical figure was white and of Greek descent. The confusion surrounding Cleopatra's ancestry is certainly not helping matters, but it sounds like confirmation, either way, wouldn't change Gadot's mind about the film. Gadot has set out to make her version of Cleopatra, and with Paramount Pictures entirely on board, it seems like the film is happening.
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