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Casting of Israel’s Gal Gadot as Cleopatra prompts debate on social media

Israeli actress Gal Gadot confirmed yesterday that she will be playing the role of Egyptian Queen Cleopatra

Israeli actress Gal Gadot confirmed yesterday that she will be playing the role of Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and teaming up again with ‘Wonder Woman’ Director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis.

“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,” Gadot said and added that she was grateful for being part of this “A team”. The film is a retelling of the iconic queen who was once played by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 classic film ‘Queen of the Nile’.

However, although the news was welcomed by many on social media, especially her fans, others were critical of the choice of casting and questioned why the role was not portrayed by an Arab or North African actress instead.

Journalist Sameera Khan suggested Lebanese-Tunisian actress Nadine Njeim would have been a better choice as opposed to a “very bland looking” Israeli actress. “Your country steals Arab land & you’re stealing their movie roles”

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One user wrote a detailed thread arguing why they felt the decision to cast Gadot as Cleopatra “is so wrong” and offensive to Egyptians and Arabs in general but acknowledged that she had Greek heritage, noting that it didn’t make her any less of an Egyptian.

Other users responded to the criticism by highlighting Cleopatra’s Greek ancestry.

 

In accusing Gadot of “cultural appropriation” one user felt the lead role should have been played by a “Macedonian Greek actress”.

Journalist Miles Cheong added that “People are upset because Gal Gadot, who isn’t black, is playing Cleopatra, who wasn’t black either”.

Born in Alexandria around 70 or 69 BCE in, Egypt Cleopatra was the last Queen of Egypt and last ruler of the Ptolemaic kingdom founded by Ptolemy I Soter, a Macedonian Greek general of Alexander the Great. The Ptolemaic period stretched nearly 300 years and is the longest ancient Egyptian dynasty.

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