Despite wielding the golden lasso and deflecting bullets with her bracelets on the big screen for more than a year, "Wonder Woman " star Gal Gadot still doesn't see herself as a superhero.
"I'm not there yet," the 32-year-old actress said in a recent interview. "When I look on playback or I look at the monitor, it's not there yet. I know it's me. I understand everything, but I still don't get that I'm doing this iconic character... It's crazy."
Gadot didn't grow up with Wonder Woman and wasn't a big superhero fan as a child. A former Miss Israel, she started her acting career there before making her American movie debut in 2009's "Fast & Furious."
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But she dug into stacks of comic books and the 1970s "Wonder Woman" TV show once she was cast as the Amazon princess, and quickly realized what an exceptional character she'd be playing.
"On the one hand, she owns something that is usually owned by men, which is the strength and the power" Gadot said. "But she brings the feminine qualities with her, which are love and warmth and compassion. And if you bond those two worlds together, then you get a very special, beautiful, whole character."
Director Patty Jenkins said Gadot embodies some of Wonder Woman's best attributes in real life.
"She has such inner strength, such an iron temperament, that she could work through anything and always keep an upbeat attitude," Jenkins said of the actress. "She's a pretty amazing person."
For Gadot, wearing Wonder Woman's classic red-and-blue costume helped her feel like a superhero — especially once the outfit was retooled after she made her debut as the character in last year's cinematic showdown between Batman and Superman.
"The first time I tried the costume was for 'Batman v Superman' and it was tight and it was different," she said. "This time around we did a lot of adjustments because I had to wear it for six months, six days a week, every week so I had to feel really comfortable in it and be able to perform and move and fight."
The actress was empowered by an additional six months of pre-production training that included horseback riding, swordplay and dramatic fight choreography. And even if she can't quite see herself as Wonder Woman — a Lynda Carter for the next generation — wearing the costume brings her the closest.
"It always gives me a little bit of oomph, I would say," Gadot said with a superhero smile. "Like now I'm stronger."