Gal Gadot is set to debut her latest action persona in the film Heart of Stone. Her character named Rachel Stone is getting dubbed this early in the press as the “female response” to Hollywood’s male action heroes James Bond, Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt.
Premiering on Netflix on Aug. 11, the actioner, as per synopsis, introduces Rachel Stone as a seemingly inexperienced tech who is part of an elite MI6 unit headed up by lead agent Parker (Jamie Dornan). Unbeknownst to the MI6 team, Stone actually works for the Charter, a covert peacekeeping organization, secret even from other operatives and banks on cutting-edge technology to neutralize global threats.
Rachel is the consummate professional and the most reliable field agent out there, who’s laser-focused on her mission and trusts no one. However, when a routine mission gets derailed by the mysterious hacker Keya Dhawan (Alia Bhatt), Rachel’s two lives collide. As she races to protect the Charter, her humanity might just be her biggest asset. Heart of Stone is directed by British filmmaker Tom Harper (The Aeronauts, Peaky Blinders, War & Peace) from the story of American writer Greg Rucka (The Old Guard).
Prior to Rachel Stone, the Israeli actress and former model has already cemented her action-star status via earlier roles as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and Sarah Black/The Bishop in Red Notice.
Asked if it was always her goal to plunge into action and who her inspirations were, she admitted in a virtual roundtable interview with The STAR and other media last June, “First of all, no, I never imagined I’d become an action star. It wasn’t something I aspired to do. I didn’t even plan on becoming an actress! But that’s a different story.”
She, however, has always been a fan of the action genre.
“As far as who’s my inspiration for Rachel Stone? I don’t think I have, like, just that one inspiration. I must say that the films in this genre had been made so brilliantly and made so well. That’s why I was always a big fan of all of them. Like it’s the type of movie that I really enjoy watching.
“So, I just wanted to make a movie of its own that brings something fresh and new and thrilling, but at the same time is very relatable and grounded and exciting and messy. And I hope that we managed to bring it to you, guys.”
Gal also pointed out the differences of Heart of Stone from her past works. “The tone of the movie is completely different from all the films you’ve just mentioned. It’s much more grounded, raw, gritty and serious, and it takes place in the real world.”
“You know, every time I film a project, I want it to be fresh and different. And to bring something new. I think that Rachel is just much more real. She’s much more relatable because you can connect to her and because you can tell she’s been through some rough times. She’s very much grounded. She loves mac and cheese.”
It helped that they shaped the story and the character from the ground up.
“Unlike other films from within this genre that are based on comic books or different books series, we had to start this from scratch,” said Gal, who’s also credited in the film as one of the producers. “So, we had Greg Rucka, who’s an incredible screenwriter and he had assembled this brilliant writers’ room to kind of start with the building blocks of the themes, the set pieces and conceptualizing the film.
“And you had such great minds in one room working for months. A lot of work had been put into this, and they kind of brought it to us. And honestly, I loved all of their ideas. Our instructions were, ‘Go as original as you can, be fresh, don’t imitate anything, anybody. Think always from the female point of view.’”
Her only personal request, on the other hand, was to make her scenes truthful, not implausible. “I don’t want to give spoilers but there is a point in the movie where (Rachel) is very high and she goes to a place in the sky. I wanted to make sure that physically, people can do that. That it’s not becoming a superhero film right now.
“So, even the altitude of the helicopter and the spaceship — even that was measured to an extent that people, real people, can actually do all those things. Those were my biggest notes: ‘Let’s keep the action as grounded as possible. Let’s make sure we tell the entire story from a female perspective.’ And then that’s what we did.”
Realistic action aside, the biggest challenge for Gal in accomplishing this project was still “the physical aspect of everything.”
She continued, “We all knew about it (being an action-packed film) coming into this. We’ve had months and months of preparations and trainings and workouts and working with the stunt teams on the fight choreography. It’s been full-on.”
While they felt “lucky” to shoot Heart of Stone in over six different locations — Iceland, Italy, the UK, Los Angeles, Portugal and Morocco — the destinations came with their own set of challenges.
“When you film in Iceland, or in the mountains in Italy, it’s freezing cold and it’s the middle of the night, and then you have to perform and do all the baddest stuff. That’s like, that’s harder, double times, do you know what I mean?” she said.
“Or when you have to do some fight scenes in the desert. Or by the ocean when you’re all wet and sandy and there’s wind and it’s like 5 a.m. in the morning and you’re so hot. There’s that aspect, too. So, it was always like the physical part that I had to overcome and really push through.”
In terms of the fight choreography, Gal noted that her favorite would have to be hand-to-hand combat. “I feel like I dial into it very quickly,” she explained.
Her dance experience proved valuable in getting into the zone. “I think the background I have as a dancer is what really helped me with all of these dance movements because essentially it’s all choreographies that you have to learn,” she said.
“But that’s the thing that I really like. I come to the set and I feel like I’m in my element. I’m in control and I’m gonna kick ass.”
Prepping for staged fights also involved mental and physical efforts. “Physically, I just have a workout plan. My diet is very specific. I try to sleep, you know, as I still am a mother of three children. So, it’s not like I can just slip in or go to bed really early. But I try to restore my energy as much as I can. Because once the train’s leaving the station, it’s going nonstop,” she shared.
As for mentally, she tries to meditate. “I use the headspace app a lot. And I tried to take short small breaks. Just to kind of just clear my mind for a few minutes and that’s it,” she added.
Meanwhile, when asked by another journalist as to who among her characters — Diana Prince, Sarah Black and Rachel Stone — would possibly emerge victorious in a three-way battle, Gal jokingly protested, “Oh, that’s not fair.”
“That’s like having an identity crisis. So weird. I think that definitely, first of all, Diana Prince, she is a semi-goddess. So like, no matter what Rachel is going to do to her, she’s going to stay alive, which is great,” Gal said.
“Between Rachel Stone and Sarah Black, I think that Sarah is more calculated. And Rachel is more of a loose cannon. She’s more wild. But she has really strong instincts.
“They’re all awesome, like, how lucky I am that I get to play all these amazing characters? That’s such a great question. I love them all. They’re all my daughters.”