Israeli actress Gal Gadot, best known for her role as Wonder Woman, is set to star as Queen Cleopatra Philopator VII in an upcoming movie to be released in theatres in 2025. Renewed discussion about the movie has been spurred on by the release of a new theatrical poster.
Gadot is hoping that the film will “change the narrative” surrounding the iconic historical figure, who Elizabeth Taylor most famously portrayed in the 1963 movie, Cleopatra.
However, Gadot’s casting as Cleopatra has proven controversial among some commentators who are upset that the historical figure will be portrayed by an actress of Israeli heritage.
Gal Gadot comments on upcoming role as Cleopatra
“I grew up with so many stories about Cleopatra, and she’s like a household name,” said Gadot during an interview.
“You know, if Wonder Woman is the imaginary strong female leader, Cleopatra’s actually the real one,” the actress continued. “All I ever saw in regards to Cleopatra from film was that she was this seductive woman who had affairs with Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony. But the truth is, there’s so much more to her.”
Originally announced in 2020, Gadot’s Cleopatra movie was initially set to be directed by Patty Jenkins, renowned for helming the Wonder Woman films. However, the directorial responsibility has now shifted to Kari Skogland.
Though it is yet to reach the level of heated controversy that surrounded the now-infamous Netflix series, Queen Cleopatra, the upcoming movie starring Gal Gadot has already attracted the ire of some online commentators.
Historically, Cleopatra VII Philopator was of Macedonian Greek descent, having been born into the Ptolemaic Dynasty that ruled Egypt between 305 and 30 BC. Nevertheless, a great deal of confusion about the historical figure’s identity permeates the public sphere and casting choices for both documentaries and works of historical fiction have caused controversies in the past.
Previously, during an interview in 2020 with the BBC, Gadot defended the decision to cast her in the movie. “First of all, if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian,” Gadot said. “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,” she added. “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.”
The historical figure
Cleopatra VII Philopator is one of the most famous figures of antiquity, having ruled over ancient Egypt between 51 and 30 BC. A heroine to some and a villainess to others, her fate was intimately tied to the fortunes of the Ptolemaic Kingdom, of which she was the last ruler.
The Ptolemies originated from Macedonia, an ancient Greek kingdom in northern Greece. Cleopatra was a descendant of Ptolemy I Soter, the founder of the dynasty and a former general of Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, Ptolemy I was able to secure a kingdom for himself in Egypt.
She ruled as the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, from 51 BC to 30 BC. A skilled diplomat and strategist, she sought to maintain Egypt’s independence while navigating the turbulent political landscape of the Roman Republic. Cleopatra is famously known for her relationships with prominent Roman leaders, first with Julius Caesar and later with Mark Antony. Her alliances with these powerful men were instrumental in securing her position and the interests of Egypt. However, after the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra’s forces in the Battle of Actium, Egypt fell under Roman rule, marking the end of her reign and the demise of the Ptolemaic dynasty.