Israeli actress Gal Gadot has been slammed on social media after she was cast to play Cleopatra in the upcoming historical epic about the iconic Egyptian queen.
The 35-year-old on Sunday confirmed she will play the titular role in a new movie after Paramount Pictures won the rights to the film in a bidding war between Universal, Warner Bros., Apple and Netflix.
The casting however, immediately drew outrage from confused social media users who wrongly assumed Cleopatra was black and North African.
Critics argued it was inappropriate for Gadot, a white Israeli woman, to play such a role and suggested the part be given to an African or black actress instead.
Gal Gadot has been tapped to play Cleopatra in the new epic, drawing criticism on social media from users who said the white, Israeli actress should not play the Egyptian queen after wrongly assuming she was black
Gadot confirmed the news in a tweet on Sunday, while sharing a photo of the iconic Egyptian ruler
The outrage was met with ridicule by other social media users who were quick to point out the Egyptian ruler was actually ethnically Greek or Persian.
‘Cleopatra was NOT black, she was of Greek descent, and there are even effigies of the time on how she looked like. People need to stop trying to rewrite history with the SJW stupidity of today,’ one user tweeted.
‘People are upset because Gal Gadot, who isn’t black, is playing Cleopatra, who wasn’t black either,’ Journalist Ian Miles Cheong quipped.
Cleopatra is known as the last ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in ancient Egypt before her death in 30 BC.
While she was born in Egypt, she was the daughter of Pharaoh Ptolemy XII, a member of the Macedonian Greek royal family that ruled Egypt for 275 years, meaning Cleopatra was most likely fair-skinned.
Twitter users quickly responded to the outrage, revealing Cleopatra was in fact Greek, not North African
In books and paintings, she was often depicted to have ivory skin, which was also seen in depictions Roman and Ptolemaic goddesses at the time.
The casting nonetheless stirred up negative reactions on Twitter, sparking a debate on the queen’s background.
‘I’m going to say this once and I’m not going to say it again, Cleopatra was Greek. Yes, she was in Egyptian ruler but she was Greek with Persian and Syrian ancestry. The people who are reacting negatively that to this are uneducated and uninformed. Gal Gadot deserves this role,’ another user said.
Rita Panahi, an Iranian Australian columnist, slammed user Sameera Khan who called Gadot ‘bland looking’ after she criticized Hollywood directors’ decision to cast the actress ‘instead of a stunning Arab actress like Nadine Njeim.’
‘So, she didn’t know Cleopatra was Greek & she calls the stunning Gal Gadot “very bland looking”. Pathological hatred of Israel does strange things to people’s brains,’ Panahi said.
Twitter users had assumed the announcement was another case of Hollywood directors casting white woman for ethnic roles
Sameera Khan was ridiculed after she suggested an Arab actress be cast for the role instead of an Israeli one
Rita Panahi, an Iranian Australian columnist, slammed user Sameera Khan who called Gadot ‘bland looking’
Gadot on Sunday confirmed her role with her followers on Sunday after news of the film’s production broke.
Gadot added: ‘I love embarking on new journeys, I love the excitement of new projects, the thrill of bringing new stories to life.’
It’s not known how the story of the Queen of Egypt will be tackled in this new retelling of the famous legend.
The script for the new film is being written by Laeta Kalogridis, who penned the screenplay for 2004’s epic Alexander as well as Leonardo DiCaprio starrer Shutter Island in 2010 and 2015’s Terminator Genisys.
Gadot will play yet another heroine after her role as Wonder Woman in 2017
Back together: The new Cleopatra reunites Gadot with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins and the two are also co-producing the historical drama from a script by Laeta Kalogridis
It’s not surprising that a major Hollywood studio would be willing to embark on such a high profile project and commit to a theatrical release, given that 2017’s Wonder Woman, starring Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins, was the highest-grossing live-action film by a female director.
The highly anticipated sequel Wonder Woman 1984 is currently in release limbo due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 1963, Elizabeth Taylor portrayed Cleopatra as a beautiful seductress who had affairs with both Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony as she sought to hold onto power as the Roman Empire expanded.
Taylor’s Cleopatra was also hugely successful at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing movie of 1963 with a North America gross of $57.7 million.
However, it cost $44 million to make and was beset by production delays and scandal, to the point of almost bankrupting 20th Century Fox.
Elizabeth Taylor portrayed Cleopatra as a beautiful seductress who had affairs with both Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony, in the 1963 film
It is best known for bringing together Taylor and Richard Burton, who played Marc Anthony.
After meeting on set, the two stars embarked on an affair although they were married to other people at the time, creating headlines around the world.
They ultimately divorced their spouses and married in 1964.
Cleopatra was nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and won four – for Art Direction, Cinematography, Visual Effects and Costume Design.
The real life Cleopatra ruled Egypt for three decades, first with her father, then with her two younger brothers and finally with her son, reputed to have been fathered by Julius Caesar.
ANTHONY, CLEOPATRA AND THE PTOLEMAIC DYNASTY
Cleopatra, often known as the world’s first celebrity, was the last of a long line to Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt – descended from Greek general Alexander the Great.
By the time of her birth, his empire had been reduced to a shadow of its former self, while the ruling class was prone to bitter in-fighting.
Married to her brother Ptolemy XIII in her father’s will, she united with Julius Caesar against him – famously having herself smuggled to see the Roman general inside a carpet so she could strike terms with him.
After his murder in 44BC Egypt, Mark Anthony was appointed to oversee the eastern reaches of the Republic – including the independent kingdom of Egypt.
Though married to Octavian’s sister, Anthony formed a relationship with Cleopatra and had three children with her.
Eventually Anthony and Octavian turned against one-another and fought for control of the Republic, which ended with defeat at the Battle of Actium.
Octavian chased Anthony and Cleopatra back to Alexandria, where they were eventually captured.
Anthony died in Cleopatra’s arms after fatally stabbing himself, before she also committed suicide – reportedly by letting an asp bite her.
Octavian returned to Italy where he became the first Emperor of Rome, while Cleopatra and Anthony were buried in Egypt.