03:37 GMT30 October 2020
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    Israeli actress Gal Gadot earlier announced she would be teaming up again with ‘Wonder Woman’ director Patty Jenkins to appear in a new film about the legendary Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.

    Israel-born actress Gal Gadot revealed on 11 October that she would be trying on the role of Cleopatra in a retelling of the epic made famous by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 classic, sparking an outcry over her casting as the legendary Egyptian Queen.

    ​Gadot went on Twitter to share her excitement over joining forces again with “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins for the “thrilling” new project, to be produced by Paramount Pictures and written by Laeta Kalogridis.

    However, the announcement triggered a heated debate on social media, as some criticized the casting of an Israeli actress as the Queen of Egypt, suggesting an Arab or Black woman might have better suited the role. ​The last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra was born in Egypt and traced her family origins to Macedonian Greece and Ptolemy I Soter, one of Alexander the Great's generals. However, accuracy was no impediment to ire among the usual suspects on Twitter.

    ​Wading into the discussion, the screenplay author Laeta Kalogridis pointed out that Cleopatra was neither Arab nor Black, but rather a Macedonian Greek.

    ​Other netizens echoed this stance.

    While modern scholars must rely on ancient artwork to determine the lineage of the pharoahs who built Egypt's famous pyramids, the Alexandrian conquest of the nation in 332-331 BCE firmly established the Hellenic Greeks and Macedonians as the nation's leaders until its conquest by the Romans. Following the fall of Rome, Egypt remained part of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire until the Arab conquest of the country in the 7th century, which yielded the modern nation's demographics, faith, and language.

    The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
    © CC0
    The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

    On a more conciliatory note, others on social media pointed out that Gadot, ranked third this month on the Forbes list of the highest-paid actresses in the world for 2020, was a major box office draw.

    ​While there has not been any official response from Gal Gadot to the controversy surrounding her casting as Cleopatra, the actress tweeted the upcoming film would be the first time the epic tale was told through “women’s eyes, both behind and in front of the camera.”


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