Actress Gal Gadot is facing a backlash on social media after she announced that she is starring in an upcoming film about the ancient Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, directed by Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins.
The Israeli-born Wonder Woman actress took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to announce the news. She expressed delight about being part of the new film project, written by Laeta Kalogridis and produced by Paramount Pictures.
“I love embarking on new journeys, I love the excitement of new projects, the thrill of bringing new stories to life. Cleopatra is a story I wanted to tell for a very long time. Can’t be more grateful about this A team.”
The upcoming movie is expected to retell the 1963 classic movie of the same name, starring Elizabeth Taylor.
Cleopatra’s romantic relations with Julius Ceaser and later Mark Antony have been the subject of stories and dramatic productions.
This includes the 1963 epic historical drama, Cleopatra, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton (Mark Antony), and Rex Harrison (Julius Caesar).
The backlash on social media
Gal Gadot did not state in her tweet that she will be playing Cleopatra. However, her tweet was in response to Deadline’s report that confirmed she would be portraying Queen Cleopatra in the upcoming movie.
The tweet drew a quick backlash on social media, with many using the platform to voice their disapproval of the choice of Gadot to play the role of an ancient Egyptian Queen.
Many said they did not think that an Israeli actress was the best choice to play the role.
“Which Hollywood dumbass thought it would be a good idea to cast an Israeli actress as Cleopatra (a very bland looking one) instead of a stunning Arab actress like Nadine Njeim?” a Twitter user Sameera Khan wrote.
“How you gonna cast Gal Gadot to play Cleopatra when Lupita is RIGHT THERE?!?” another angry Twitter user wrote.
Some fans defended Gal Gadot playing Cleopatra
The suggestion that an African actress or an Arab should play the role sparked a debate about Cleopatra’s ethnic identity.
Some Twitter users, including screenplay writer Laeta Kalogridis, noted that Cleopatra was a Macedonian Greek.
“I’m going to say this once and I’m not going to say it again, Cleopatra was Greek,” a Twitter user commented. “Yes, she was an Egyptian ruler but she was Greek with Persian and Syrian ancestry.”
However, some were less concerned by the debate over Cleopatra’s ethnic identity than by the fact that Gadot’s status as a film star would boost the movies’ box office performance.
Who was Cleopatra?
Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator, who ruled the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt from about 51 BCE to 30 BCE, was a direct descendant of Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian Greek general who fought for the great Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great and founded the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt.