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.
As you might have heard I teamed up with @PattyJenks and @LKalogridis to bring the story of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, to the big screen in a way she’s never been seen before. To tell her story for the first time through women's eyes, both behind and in front of the camera. pic.twitter.com/k5eyTIfzjB
— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) October 12, 2020
“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.
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?
— Sameera Khan (@SameeraKhan) October 11, 2020
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”
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.
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. pic.twitter.com/7h1oYu9ClX
— The Moonlight Warrior 🌙 (@BlackMajikMan90) October 11, 2020
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.