Any superhero movie lives or dies with its lead star. If Henry Cavill hadn’t connected with fans, they wouldn’t still be waiting for Man of Steel 2. Likewise, Gal Gadot was essential in making Wonder Woman the hit it turned out to be.
Prior to her debut as the character, moviegoers only knew Gadot as Gisele from the Fast and Furious movies. She brought the character to life. But to bring up any hero takes a village. Or, rather, an island paradise inhabited by Amazon warriors.
Finding the right actress to lead them proved to be the real challenge. Thankfully, director Patty Jenkins had a hand in finding the right woman for the job. She just took a little convincing first.
Zack Snyder introduced Wonder Woman into the DCEU
Audiences first met Gadot’s Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In that movie, she and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) are both investigating Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). And the pair ultimately join Superman (Henry Cavill) in his battle against Doomsday.
So while Jenkins created a world surrounding the character, director Zack Snyder actually cast Gadot. It was his film — as divisive as it may be among critics — that brought Wonder Woman herself to the screen. Moreover, Snyder’s film established the setting of Wonder Woman and much of its supporting cast.
But Themiscyra — Wonder Woman‘s homeland — fell to Jenkins. Snyder served as a producer on the movie, but Jenkins led the production. She needed to find the right women to mentor Diana Prince. Robin Wright’s Antiope trained Diana in combat. But who would play her mother, Queen Hippolyta?
Patty Jenkins resisted casting one ‘tough’ actress for a key role
Nicole Kidman was initially attached to take the role of the Amazon queen. But due to obligations to Big Little Lies, Kidman was unable to join the DC Extended Universe until Aquaman. In that film, she played Atlanna, queen of Atlantis.
Ultimately, Jenkins brought on Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) as Hippolyta. But she didn’t want to meet with her at first. In a recent chat with The Hollywood Reporter, Nielsen recounted how Snyder fought for Jenkins to even meet with her for Wonder Woman.
It’s funny because it was Zack Snyder who was the one who kept saying to Patty, “I really think you should meet with Connie Nielsen. I really think she’s right for this role.” Patty was like, “Oh, no, she’s this tough girl, and I’m not looking for a tough woman for this.” Zack then said, “I really don’t think so. I think you should meet with her.” I had to fly to London just before Christmas.
Once Jenkins and Nielsen discussed the part, the bond was fairly instantaneous, the actress told THR. Describing their first meeting, Nielsen said she “immediately fell into this comrades-in-arms kind of feeling” with Jenkins. And at the end of a four-hour lunch, the director found her Hippolyta.
Connie Nielsen returns as Hippolyta again in ‘Wonder Woman 1984’
The casting worked beautifully in the finished film. In particular, Nielsen shares some poignant moments with Gadot, as the latter ventures into the world of men. And the role has been an ongoing one for Nielsen. The actress returned as Hippolyta for 2017’s Justice League.
Moreover, Nielsen will return again in Wonder Woman 1984. However, trailers for the movie haven’t really given any indication of what role she’ll play in the sequel. Nonetheless, fans will love the chance to see more of her. And to think Jenkins almost didn’t meet with Nielsen in the first place.