It's a hectic lunchtime at the Chateau Marmont when Gal Gadot arrives, stopping briefly in the patio to embrace a friend before finding her seat. As she does, another loose acquaintance pops by to admire her Burberry ankle boots, then lingers. Gadot, 32, graciously accepts the compliment, smoothing her sweater over her Wolford black pants and leaning back with an exhale familiar to any woman who has ever been in her third trimester. (Her daughter Maya was born in March, joining 5-year-old sister Alma.)
Her hair is pulled into a tidy ponytail, eyes lined with black liquid. The look—sharp, cosmopolitan ease—is a refined contrast to the L.A. scene (where many adults still seem to compete over who can spend the most money to dress like a child). When the visitor at last departs the table, Gadot winces, embarrassed by the unsolicited attention.
"When I first came to Los Angeles, I couldn't read people," she says frankly. "I always felt there was a subtext." It's an opaqueness absent in her home country, where unfiltered boldness rules the day. "In Israel, people have chutzpah," she asserts, raising a fist. "People take issue with it, but I'd rather have that than play games. Here, everyone's like, 'We love you; you're so wonderful.' I prefer to know the truth, not waste time."
It is this directness that makes Gadot the best kind of girl's girl, a woman with backbone and no taste for bullshit. You see it in her public appearances, where she is unfailingly quick to give shout-outs to female colleagues. You hear it from Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who calls Gadot one of the most genuine, solid women she's ever met. You feel it when Gadot meets you in person for the first time and gives you a full body-contact hug—even though she is eight months pregnant, a stage where most women don't want anything, let alone anyone, touching their body. A body that, pregnancy aside, has been the subject of much public scrutiny since Gadot's casting as Wonder Woman.
Here, a few highlights from our interview, in our June issue on newsstands May 16:
On being a confident woman: "My mom raised my sister and me to be confident women with aspirations. And I always felt capable. I'm not saying that I'm stronger than most men…but we all have the same brains and we can achieve the same things."
On life in Los Angeles vs. Israel: "When I first came to Los Angeles, I couldn't read people. In Israel, people have chutzpah. People take issue with it, but I'd rather have that than play games. I prefer to know the truth, not waste time."
On dealing with adversity: "I don't enjoy conflict in my life. Unlike Wonder Woman, I'm not a fighter [but] I will fight for good."
On her hope for equal rights for women: "There's a long way to go until we can make gender a nonissue. I don't know if it'll ever happen. I'm hoping it will because life would be so much cooler and less complicated then. Also, for men, by the way."
Read the full interview and see more photographs in the June issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands May 16. And for a little behind-the-scenes action to hold you over, see more of Gadot at her cover shoot here:
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