The stunning transformation of Gal Gadot

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that the new Wonder Woman movie has taken the world by storm. Marvel and DC Comics have been duking it out at the box-office for years and, finally, we have a female superhero in her own successful film.

While audiences might be familiar with star Gal Gadot from her performances in the Fast & Furious film franchise, they may not realize how incredibly interesting this woman's life has been. From a two-year stint as a soldier in the military to being crowned Miss Israel, Gadot is a lot more than just a pretty face.

Gal Gadot was born in Israel

Gal Gadot was born in Rosh HaAyin, Israel on April 30, 1985. Her mother worked as a teacher, her father was an engineer, and her maternal grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust.

Athletically-inclined as a child, Gadot played sports and studied dance. In fact, she once aspired to be a choreographer after 12 years of ballet, hip-hop, modern, and jazz. Clearly, she had no idea that she would become a huge movie star one day!

It's no surprise that she's blessed with the ability to move her body fluidly — her first name means "wave" and her last name means "riverbank." Amazing!

She was crowned Miss Israel

A talent scout spotted Gal Gadot and, recognizing her potential, encouraged her to participate in the 2004 Miss Israel competition. Feeling that it would be a valuable experience, she agreed to compete, she was surprised by the results.

"I never thought I would win," Gadot told Glamour magazine. "I was shocked when they crowned me." Not only were the results surprising, they were actually unwelcome. Years later, Gadot admitted that, while she was a contestant, she didn't actually want to win the title. It's a good thing she did, though, since it helped jumpstart her career.

She competed for Miss Universe

After her victory in the Miss Israel pageant, Gal Gadot moved up to an even bigger competition. While many would have been thrilled, she seemed to realize it wasn't the lifestyle she wanted.

When it was time to compete for Miss Universe, Gadot had a different strategy: "I was afraid I might get picked again. [Laughs.] I showed up late. I came without gowns. They tell you to come to breakfast in a gown. I was like, "No way am I having breakfast in a gown!" Who needs to wear an evening gown at 10:30 A.M.?"

Although, she didn't want to win Miss Universe, this experience put her on the world stage and ended up launching her modeling career.

She served in the Israel Defense Forces

All of the high-intensity action Gal Gadot takes on in movies such as Fast & Furious and Wonder Woman pales in comparison to what she's actually seen and done in real life. Incredibly, Gadot served in the Israel Defense Forces for two years and even worked as a combat instructor.

Her time as a soldier was part of the mandatory service required in Israel, but the lessons were valuable. "You've got to give back to the state," she explained. "You give two or three years, and it's not about you. You give your freedom away. You learn discipline and respect." What a great attitude!

She was in Maxim's "Women of the Israeli Army" edition

Back in 2007, Gal Gadot was included Maxim's "Women of the Israeli Army" feature. Gal, who listed her physical expertise as "fitness," was quoted as saying: "I taught gymnastics and calisthenics. The soldiers loved me because I made them fit."

This was just the beginning of the media attention Gadot would receive. Over the years, the esteemed Wonder Woman has modeled for many campaigns and was recently named the face of Gucci's Bamboo perfume.

She scored a role on the Israeli series "Bubot"

Bubot (which translates to "Babes" in English) may have been a short-lived series in Israel, but it helped Gal Gadot gain some experience and visibility. The scripted show, which followed the lives of models, only lasted for a season, but served as the future actress' first acting job. She's come a long way since then! Now, she's winning critical acclaim and smashing box-office records.

She studied law before acting

Despite her obvious talent, the idea of acting for a living seemed ludicrous to Gal Gadot in her early years. In an interview, she explained: "I said, 'No way.' I said, 'I'm studying law and international relations. I'm way too serious and smart to be an actress, and besides, the script is all in English.' I spoke English, but I wasn't comfortable with it." While we're sure she would have been a spectacular lawyer, we are thrilled that she chose to pursue a career in acting instead.

She was almost a Bond Girl

Gal Gadot almost got her start as a Bond Girl after the casting director for Quantum of Solace invited her to audition. The part ultimately went to Olga Kurylenko, but the encounter seems to have been a turning point in her career.

"It was always Olga's [role]," Gadot explained. "But I started going to an acting coach, then I got my first role, in an Israeli TV series. I had finished my first year in school, and I decided to stop working toward my degree when I got that project. Then that same Bond casting director cast me as Gisele in Fast & Furious — my first movie. Crazy! Whenever I met with producers, writers, or directors, I said I wanted to portray a strong, independent woman. Cut to Wonder Woman." Does anyone else have goosebumps?

She married Yaron Varsano in 2008

Considering her history, it might be a bit hard to believe that there's someone out there worthy enough to deserve Gal Gadot's greatness — but she insists that she's found the love of her life.

Gadot and Yaron Varsano, an Israeli businessman, were introduced by mutual friends when they attended an offbeat party in the desert. While they didn't necessarily buy into the gathering's theme of practicing yoga, clearing chakras, and eating a healthy diet, they were definitely into each other.

Of the fortuitous meeting, Gadot told Glamour: "I think I [knew he was the one], but I was too young to get it. He did. He's 10 years older than me. He told me on our second date he was serious and wasn't going to wait more than two years to ask me to marry him. Fast-forward two years; he proposed. We were married in 2008."

Fast & Furious was her first big role

Although, she had never starred in a movie, Gal Gadot was the perfect fit for her big screen debut as Gisele Harabo, a weapons expert in Fast & Furious. It seems like her past experiences prepared her well for the physical demands associated with this breakout role.

"I think the main reason was that [director] Justin Lin really liked that I was in the military," she said, "and he wanted to use my knowledge of weapons."

Clearly Lin and audiences enjoyed her performance since she went on to appear in Fast FiveFast & Furious 6, and Furious 7.

She appeared in Date Night and Knight and Day

She may have wowed moviegoers in the action-packed Fast & Furious franchise, but Gal Gadot has also delivered some memorable performances in smaller roles on both the big screen and television.

While Knight and Day wasn't exactly praised by critics, Gadot, who craftily portrayed a henchwoman, easily fit in with the film's big stars, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. This should have been the first sign that she would become a Hollywood heavyweight in her own right.

Changing gears, Gadot showed her more playful side as Natanya, one of Holbrooke's (Mark Wahlberg) many love interests in Date Night. He describes her as an Israeli who "doesn't speak much" just before she asks his guests (Steve Carell and Tina Fey): "You two make sex with us?" No spoilers but let's just say that the offer was met with a bit of shock.

Capitalizing on her gorgeous gams, Gadot also appeared in the "Almost Friends" episode of Entourage as Lisa, a supermodel who has the misfortune of dating Vincent Chase (played by Adrian Grenier).

She has two little girls

Gal Gadot and her husband, Yaron Varsano, are the proud parents of two sweet little girls ­— Alma, who was born in 2011, and Maya, who joined the family in 2017.

As the mother of two girls, Gadot feels especially proud of the fact that she's helped bring Wonder Woman to the box office. "Most of the movies, the men are in charge, the men are the most powerful ones," Gadot said. "You've had Superman and Batman and everyone, but Wonder Woman was never there. I'm so happy when she grows up she's going to see a female figure she can be inspired by." Talk about girl power!

She doesn't actually ride a motorcycle

Although it's been widely reported that Gal Gadot owns a 2006 Ducati Monster motorcycle and has a real-life need for speed, the rumors don't seem to be true (despite the fact that she did jump from a motorcycle to a moving Jeep for a movie role).

During an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Gadot was asked about her passion for riding powerful bikes and she replied: "I've gotta tell you, I know that it's written on my Wikipedia page, but I don't ride motorcycles! It's not true, but that's fine. I'm a daring person and I always like to experience things but now that I'm a mother, I take a lot more responsibility and I don't do crazy stuff that can kill me. So, I do all the crazy stuff when I work and then in my ordinary life I'm very low-key." Sounds like she's found the perfect balance.

She stole the show in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

There was a lot of hype about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and most of it leading up to the release focused on the men in the starring roles.

To everyone's surprise, it was Gal Gadot's portrayal of Wonder Woman that was a showstopper. After gaining 17lbs for the role, it was clear that she wasn't interested in falling into the sex symbol trap associated with female superheroes like Catwoman. Instead, she was powerful and believable as she laid the foundation for her standalone Wonder Woman film.

Still, Gadot admits that there were critics who panned her performance, but the reason is ridiculous. "'Cause my boobs were too small," Gadot said. "Yeah — that was a big problem. The Web really paid attention to the important side of Wonder Woman." Unfortunately, it seems even female heroes have to deal with body shaming.

She is killing it as Wonder Woman

It feels like everything in Gal Gadot's life has been leading up to this groundbreaking moment. While many questioned the allure of a standalone female superhero movie, Wonder Woman delivered big time at the box-office.

It absolutely dominated its opening weekend, raking in $101.4 million domestically, making it the biggest opener for a film directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins). In fact, it easily surpasses the second-biggest female directed opener was 50 Shades of Grey (Sam Taylor-Johnson) which earned $85.1 million.

Of course, it's not just about the ticket sales. Critics and audiences (including big name celebrities such as Lupita Nyong'o, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, and former Catwoman, Anne Hathaway) have heaped on the praise.

She did reshoots while five months pregnant

It's becoming pretty clear that Gal Gadot delivered a tour de force performance in Wonder Woman by drawing from her past experiences to bring us a complex, charismatic, and empowering film. She fully committed to her role and it has paid off.

Not only did she have to memorize a script in a foreign language (her native tongue is Hebrew) and deliver her lines flawlessly but she also did her own stunts. While that's impressive on its own, what really sets her apart is that she went back to the studio for reshoots while she was five months pregnant!

The production team modified her Wonder Woman suit by removing parts of the middle section to accommodate her growing belly. A green screen was used to make everything blend in seamlessly. Director, Patty Jenkins, explained to Cosmopolitan: "[Gadot's] pregnant during part of the movie, in a suit out in a field in the freezing cold in others. There are so many things we asked her to do: Now do it on one foot. Now shout while you're doing it. Now it's raining in the freezing cold and you've lost your voice, go. Everyday it was a hilarious gauntlet and she would do it."

She works out but eats burgers and ice cream

Getting in shape for a superhero movie can't be an easy feat, but it seems like Gal Gadot has it covered. She explained that, to take on the role of Diana Prince, she worked out a lot, incorporating a variety of martial arts. When she's not training for a movie, she sticks to TRX and paddle boarding.

Despite how seriously she takes her job, Gadot also embraces her inner "foodie." While she says that she looks at food as fuel for her body, she also indulges in favorite treats such as "burgers and ice cream with chocolate." She explained to Harper's Bazaar: "I don't restrict myself, I can eat everything. It's all a matter of measurements and quantity of the food; just enjoy your food and don't eat while you drive and don't eat when you talk on the phone. Just give the food the respect and give yourself the respect to enjoy it."

She spoke up after the United Nations controversy

In October 2016, Gal Gadot and Lynda Carter, who have both portrayed Wonder Woman, were invited to a special panel held by the United Nations after the comic book heroine was named an "honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls."  

Unfortunately, a petition signed by nearly 45,000 people led the U.N. to end the campaign and Gadot was shocked by the turn of events. "There are so many horrible things that are going on in the world, and this is what you're protesting, seriously?" the Israeli actress said. "When people argue that Wonder Woman should 'cover up,' I don't quite get it. They say, 'If she's smart and strong, she can't also be sexy.' That's not fair. Why can't she be all of the above?"

After the petition accused the character of being "overtly sexualized," Gadot spoke out saying: "I think people take it the wrong way when I say I'm a feminist. Feminism is not about burning bras and hating men. It's about gender equality. Whoever is not a feminist is a chauvinist."

There's more Wonder Woman coming

Before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice even had an official title, we knew that Gal Gadot had signed on for at least three movies. This, of course, is very exciting since it means that there's more Wonder Woman coming to the DC extended Universe.

Man of SteelBatman v SupermanSuicide Squad, and Wonder Woman, have all been leading to the upcoming Justice League movie. Gadot will appear in that film and, likely, will have a role Justice League Part Two which has been delayed to accommodate a solo Batman release.

Gal Gadot is the role model we need

During a time when empowerment has become such a central theme, Gal Gadot has emerged as an incredible role model. She is beautiful, poised, and sexy while being proud of her strength and intelligence.

This is the perfect message both on-screen and in our real lives and we can't wait to see how her stunning and amazing transformation continues for years to come!