Chris Pine’s an old hat at this. As a veteran of big budget blockbuster movies he’s been shuttled to and fro from one interview to another plenty, so when he sits down with his Wonder Woman co-star Gal Gadot he looks a little immune to the whole thing, waiting for Gadot to answer first if it’s a question for both of them, only really coming to life when he’s interested in the discussion and signalling his boredom by standing up preparing to leave when he senses it’s coming to an end.
Maybe he’s regretting the tentpole spotlight and spectacle all over again – after comments he made last year, he seemed to be bored with the Star Treks of the world, much preferring the grit and nimbleness of Hell Or High Water.
Gadot, by contrast, is instantly disarming. She’s as bright and eager as the on-screen heroine she plays, smiling at everyone and giving the best answers she can (in very occasional broken English, which endears her to you even more). If you haven’t already read the reviews, Gadot is a star in the making, and she and Pine spoke to Moviehole.net in Los Angeles
Gal Gadot [standing instead of sitting]:
I’m so sorry for standing. I like to feel superior over Steve here… Chris. No. I’m just joking. I threw my back out.
Is Wonder Woman is a feminist icon?
Certainly. Wonder Woman is a feminist icon to me and I think that for everyone else. You know, I think there’s such a misunderstanding in as far as what it is to be a feminist. I noticed that when I used to tell people, “Yeah, I’m a feminist” that even women, sometimes get defensive about that.
All of us should be feminist. I’m here because of the feminism movement. And I think that feminism is all about choice and freedom and equality. And I think that this is something that Wonder Woman certainly represents. She doesn’t give any attention to gender because you know, she grew up on an island with no men. And once she gets to the men’s world, even when she sees men, she believes that they’re just the same as she is, and everyone has their own qualities. So to answer your question: yes.
Any advice from Lynda Carter on how to play her?
I met her when I was in New York. From the very first moment I met her, I was like, I totally understand why she was the first Wonder Woman. She has such a special energy and presence. She’s funny, and smart, and witty, and sassy, and she’s amazing.
Obviously we both played the same character, but in a very different time and different context. But she had a pen at the UN and we were sitting next to each other. We were hearing this woman talking, and all of the sudden she did this, and she passed me the pen, like you know in the Olympics when you have the runners and they pas the baton? Exactly. So I was very moved by that and I kept the pen.
What kind of training did you go through?
I was prepping for this movie five, six, months before we started to shoot. I did a lot of different activities. I was working out a lot in the gym, and I did a lot of stunt choreography, horseback riding.
Did your experience with Israeli military service help?
Not really. I was a combact trainer in the army, but I-
Yeah. What did I say?
I don’t know. Combact.
Ah. A combat trainer. I have a translator here. If you don’t understand me, he gets me already.
I think to perform in such a way and to do the things that we had to do for Wonder Woman, it had absolutely nothing to do with my service in the IDF.
Do you keep up any of the fitness routines now?
Oh, yes. I just had a baby two months ago, so now gradually we’re going back to cardio, which I hate. We separate the muscles and I do a lot of weights and things like that.
Did your work on Batman v Superman give you much of an inkling of what you were in?
What is inkling?
Inkling of … Did you have an idea?
When I was just first cast with Wonder Woman, shooting Batman Versus Superman if I had any idea what Wonder Woman’s going to be like? No. It was a completely different experience. In Batman Versus Superman, I was a guest and the movie wasn’t about my character, obviously. And in this film we had the leverage to really dig deep and explore who’s the character, what made her become who she is, and to finally establish her origin story.
How would you rate each other’s performance and chemistry?
I liked it.
Chris Pine [referring to one scene in particular]:
Oh, that’s funny. She’s talking about my penis.
Well, I don’t know about his penis, but… When I saw the very first cut, I told Chris that I think that he’s so good and I enjoyed his performance so very much. I think he’s very talented.
We had a great time. You know it’s the luck of the draw when you have to fall in love with someone on screen, that you hope that it’s easy and that you like the person. And I like Gal a lot, we like to laugh, and pass the time as easily as possible, and the dynamic that the writers created for the on screen relationship was great. You have the fish out of water, the naïve straight person, and then you have the comic relief, and you throw them in a blender and give them some fun stuff to play with and it’s-
So was I above average or what?
Gal, you’re extraordinary.
Any advice you could offer for her being the star of the show in a big blockbuster franchise?
What I will say is that having done Star Trek and knowing the kind of expectations and all that, it can be overwhelming, but the nice thing about the long process of filmmaking is that at a certain point it just becomes routine. And Gal knew that, she had a great sense of how to go about it.
On top of it she’s just got an incredible work ethic and it’s about the days work, you show up, you do your job and then you go home. There wasn’t any kind of preciousness about anything. It’s just you get the job done. I appreciate that about anybody, that our work doesn’t seem like work, but it is a job. You show up, you clock in, and then you go about it as professionally as possible and Gal is a rockstar, so I didn’t have to give her any advice. She’s, you know…
Above average. Slightly.
Gal, did the original comics ever represent anything cultural to you?
I wasn’t a big fan. I’m not a big comic book fan as funny as it might sound, and growing up, it wasn’t a big part of my life. But when I was cast to do Wonder Woman I got a big box filled with comic books and I started to read a lot of them. There’re so many different versions and different takes of Wonder Woman in the comic books but at the end of the day, you can’t give attention to all of it. You have to focus on one coherent arc that you’re going to stick to. And for me, my bible is my script. Once we really figured what qualities of Wonder Woman we want to keep and we want to portray, then all I had to do was stick to the script, really.
What was it like being directed by a woman?
It’s amazing that it was directed by Patty [Jenkins]. Patty was always very passionate about Wonder Woman and she came onboard and had a very, very clear vision on who is the Wonder Woman she wants to tell her story. And working with her had been such an amazing experience. She’s a very, very unique, smart, warm, loving person, and I always felt like she knows how to create intimacy with the actors that she’s working with. I always felt like she was there with me shoulder-to-shoulder, and it was an amazing experience.
Chris, how is it to be surrounded by amazing women?
It’s a dream. Yeah, I grew up in a family of very strong women. I have an older sister, you know, I have a mom, like most of us do. And-
You weren’t made out of clay [a Wonder Woman joke]?
Not made out of clay. And I had a grand old time. I don’t know, I didn’t think about of the fact that it was directed by a woman or that Gal’s a lady. It just seemed pretty normal.
You didn’t feel vulnerable about the nude scene?
No, god, I was so excited. I worked out so hard, I was like ‘finally’. We shot that at the end of January and I didn’t drink any booze, and I like booze, but I didn’t drink any booze for January. I was very strict. By the time that effin’ scene came about, I was like, “Let’s get this fuckin’ party started so I can eat again.”
That was actually one of the first scenes that Patty had pitched to me because the script wasn’t done and she was explaining what that scene was going to be about.
Anything particularly different about working with a female director?
Working with different directors is just different. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their gender, it’s a different experience every time.
I would agree. You know, I’ll say this for Patty, I’ve never worked with a director who was a camera operator for ten years. So her sense of craft of the camera was just instinctual because she works so goddamn much with the camera. I think that facility and ease she had with that allowed her a lot of extra time to think about us and the complexities and nuance of emotional stuff and to be actually, authentically invested in that – that’s a rare thing. [For a director] to say they are is common, and to not care is common as well. So to actually be invested in this and to search for authentic stuff in a film of this size is pretty rare and I give her credit for wanting to really investigate that.
What were the biggest challenges?
For me it was the cold, honestly. We were shooting this movie in England during the winter and not wearing much. So it was just cold. And again, it was a very intensive project. I was prepping for six, five months and then we were shooting the movie for six months, six days a week, every week.
But it was amazing because I was working with fantastic people. The vibe and the energy that we had on set was always great so even if we had complicated scenes to shoot together, we were there doing it together until we exhausted ourselves, but we at least got it.
How about a favourite scene?
I really liked the dancing scene. It was just so romantic, they had this snow stuff. There was this little French village.
It was magical and it felt like every take was it. From the very first take, Patty didn’t know what to change. I felt super authentic and beautiful with the snow and the piano in the background. It was really, very beautiful.
The battle scenes in the first half were pretty extraordinary, and not just because they weren’t just about men. Talk about doing fight scenes with all those amazing actresses.
It was great. Even for me as a moviegoer when I went to see the movie the first time I was blown away. I think it’s so original. And all of the sudden it hit me and I thought how weird is that, that we’ve never seen anything like that. Like how many times have we seen a battle sequences with men, big epic moments of men doing that, and all of the sudden to see women do it in their style. It wasn’t masculine at all.
And working with all of the women was a blast. I love people. I have a lot of friends here and back at home. I’m a people person. I enjoy being around people who are nice. Everyone was so supportive and when we shot in the in Italy, it was crazy because all the women worked shooting on the beach, and we all traveled with our families. So all the men were walking around with strollers and it felt like a new age type of era, and it’s very refreshing and a lot of fun.
It’s also about mother daughter relationships. Is it more wonderful to be Wonder Woman or a mother again?
That’s not fair – a mom. That’s the most significant role that I can ever, ever have.
Can you relate to the relationships?
Yeah, I can. My mom is not Queen Hippolyta, but she’s my queen. My mom was always very protective of me and very worried about my well-being. I have a good relationship with my mother and I’m very close to her, but I think that a daughter/mother relationship is something that is always very, very interesting because there’s many complexities to it.
Feminism is one of the most talked about political movements nowadays, especially its place in Hollywood. Did any other political parallels strike you in the script?
Not on a day-to-day basis. I’m not a big superhero fan, and we’ve seen it through the male prism and usually the male prism is this kind of very biblical revenge story. It’s like evil person’s committed evil, and then the good person avenges that evil to kill the bad guy then all is restored.
That doesn’t seem all that 21st century, it doesn’t take into account the murky, gray morality that I think all of us know the world to be. So how interesting in the guise of the superhero film, you have a romance at the heart of it, and what is a romance? It’s love. And your lead character leads with love and compassion and positivity and hopefulness, which is not something, which I don’t think you can characterize any other superhero being defined by.
And if you have that and you have a male character who says at one point that he’s just as morally complicit as the next, but he’s trying his hardest to be good, I think it takes into account what real life is like.
It also posits that love and not revenge, but love and compassion and hope, those are the central things you should be talking about. So that excited me a lot.
Can you talk more about the romance theme?
I think they have a beautiful, poetic love story… Can we say spoilers here? When one gives up his life in the name of something that is bigger, I think that’s a lesson that he was taught by her. She was the one to remind him of love, and she was the one to remind him of selflishness or …
He really is your translator.
Happens all the time. But I think that what’s so beautiful about this love story is that it’s two heroes that are selflishness …
And they willing to give up their love for a bigger thing. You know what I mean?
Is it scary to think that if Wonder Woman and Justice League really do well you might be playing Wonder Woman for the next decade?
Yeah, it’s fun. As long as I have good people to work with like Chris and Patty I’m happy to do that.
Any fears about typecasting?
I feel like it’s a greedy thing if I say, you know, I got Wonder Woman, it’s the most iconic character someone could ever play as a woman. And I can’t say, “Yay, I got it, I love it. But wait a second, I don’t want to be completely typecasted as Wonder Woman always.” It is what it is. I got this dream role and I’m sure that I’m going to have opportunities to show different sides of me as an actress, but honestly I’m just grateful.
Have you seen reactions or expectations from fans? Are you in contact them?
I am, kind of. I’m very active on my social medias, and I feel like it’s the right platform to be involved in some kind of way with the fans. And so far so good, they’ve been very, very loving, and supporting, and happy about everything that we’ve been doing, and I’m very happy for that.
Why is Wonder Woman an important story to tell now?
This character has been around for 75 years and finally we get to tell her origin story. Boys had Superman and Batman and Spider-Man and whatnot to look up to and there was never really a strong female figure to look up to, and I think it’s important for girls as it’s important for boys as well.
And also the messages that Patty has brought in this film… let’s forget about complicated things, let’s just go back to simplicity, let’s go back to simple values that are the most important ones. Love and compassion and equality and acceptance, I think we really, really need those values now. Like, forget about cynicism a little bit, let’s be better.
Who did you look up to growing up?
I was always just inspired by women, but I knew whether if it was my mother or friends there are so many great women, so I didn’t have just one in particular.
Can you talk about how Diana’s journey is to lose her innocence?
I enjoy the fact that we started her story when she was a young idealist girl who believes in goodness. And when you go through adolescence and start to understand that it’s more complicated than that, I think it just adds to the character. She’s not naïve anymore, she understand the complexities of life.
Did you ever like the Lynda Carter TV series?
I wasn’t born.