Set in the 1980s, WONDER WOMAN 1984 not only explores where Diana was before she joined the Justice League, but how she copes with love and loss, while a host of new challenges begin to rise against her, including megalomaniac Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) who is on the hunt for something mystical and powerful, and Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) a woman who looks up to Diana and wishes that she could be just like her.
Movies.ie caught up with the women of WONDER WOMAN 1984 – stars Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig and director Patty Jenkins – to find out more about what went into the film, and what they hope audiences will get out of a true bombastic, bright and shiny blockbuster.
WONDER WOMAN 1984 has been a long time coming, and it was worth the wait, thank you so much for giving us a truly fun blockbuster to round out 2020…
Patty Jenkins: Thank you so much, thank you for those kind words. It feels really great to finally share something with the world, and have something to share with the world in this time, so I so appreciate that.
WONDER WOMAN obviously was had a great reaction in 2017, had you started working on this film before you knew how the first one would be received?
PJ: It was kind of interesting; as we were finishing the first film – maybe a little earlier than that – you find yourself thinking… We were having such a good time, all having such a great time as friends making the film that I found myself thinking “Wow, I thought I would be exhausted and sick of this, but I am totally frustrated by what I didn’t get to do with Wonder Woman and this great group of people. So really, we spent the entire first film making Wonder Woman, creating Wonder Woman. She’s only Wonder Woman in the last scene of the movie, so I found myself really craving doing a movie about Wonder Woman, now full-blown Wonder Woman. Then I started reflecting on what was going on in our world and what Wonder Woman would want to say to the world, and the story came out of that.
Gal, did you talk with Patty about where we find Diana in 1984, and how she got to be there from where she was in the last film?
Gal Gadot: Of course! I gotta say something; there is something about working with a director that is completely there with you, for you, behind you, beside you and to guide you that gives us the freedom to really let go and take all of the risks that one can be very frightened to take if he doesn’t have such [a] partner. I am very grateful to have such an amazing director to work with. Yes, we discussed a lot about the history of Diana and how her life had been since we last saw her in 1918, all the way to [the] 1980s. She lost all of her team members, she has been very lonely, she doesn’t really want to engage and make new friends because then they are going to realise she doesn’t age, and they’re gonna die and she’ll have to let go. So she kind of isolated herself from the world, and her only goal is just to help and better mankind and be there for them, and guide them, and try to do good. Creating the history of Diana is something that we always discussed.
Kristen, you get to play multiple characters with Barbara and Cheetah, what was it like to work your way through these personalities?
Kristen Wiig: Yeah, we didn’t want it to be the typical mousy girl turned villain. What is it about her that makes her so lonely and so invisible and then what does she really, really want? So she goes through three really big stages, the wardrobe and the costumes and all of that definitely helped and again, like Pedro was saying, working with Patty and trying to figure out who she is with every stage. I’ve never done anything like this before, I’ve never played anything like this, so it was very scary because I could visualise more what I didn’t want it to be, more than what I did want it to be, but I felt very taken care of and it was an amazing, scary but fun experience for me.
Patty, after the massive success of the first film, was there something that you truly wanted to explore about what Wonder Woman represents for you?
PJ: Definitely, the first film, like I said, was about the birth of Wonder Woman, I think what Wonder Woman goes on to stand for in the world – which is she is actually really trying to teach everyone she encounters how to be their better self and trying to help mankind be better – so I think getting into Diana’s whole relationship with humanity. The last one was her discovery of humanity, now how does she live within humanity, and by the way, she’s not perfect either so her own struggles and journey to do the right thing, which is so universal to all of us. Being a hero is not an easy thing, it’s actually a super difficult thing, so that I was really interested in too; what does it feel like?
Gal, Wonder Woman sends a powerful message to young girls, showing them that they already have the strength they need to be the heroes of their own lives, what would it have meant to you as a young girl to see Wonder Woman on the big screen?
GG: Well I wasn’t lucky enough to see so many Wonder Woman type characters when I was growing up. I gotta say that when I was watching the movie for the first time – and I am the star of the movie and I have read all the drafts – I thought that I was ready to see anything; we were on set when so much of this was being shot, even when it wasn’t us. Then when I saw the opening sequence it was certainly something; the reaction I had I just didn’t expect. I got so emotional, and for the first time I didn’t feel like I was Gal the actress, Gal the woman, I felt like Gal the 8 year old, watching another 8 year old doing something out of worldly, and being so good at it, and she is doing it in her own way, it’s her own. It moved me so deeply and so much that I got emotional, but then I realised the power of these movies; you can become someone… I am a big believer when you see it, you can be it, and then you become it. I didn’t have the opportunity to see all of these strong female characters, and now seeing it and seeing the way that it affects my daughters – but also boys and men and al different type of people – it’s so powerful and it’s so strong, and I feel very, very grateful that I have the opportunity to be part of this. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like this before.
Kristen, you obviously have a lot of fun with Barbara / Cheetah, has it been a dream of yours to play a villain?
KW: The short answer is yes! I don’t really get asked to do those kind of things, to be honest, and I was really shocked and happy and, of course, felt extra pressure when I signed on [laughs] and when I was talking to Patty about it. I am a superhero geek, I see all the movies, I am at the theatre, I have seen all of them, I was obsessed with the first one, so to know that I was gonna be in it and that I got a chance to be a villain and Patty believed that I could do it… It was an amazing life experience for me.
The fight scene between Cheetah and Wonder Woman is breathtaking to watch, what is the reality of creating a scene like that?
PJ: There were quite a few scenes that were unbelievably complex, and this was one of them because we had to build that entire space. We designed what we wanted something to look like and feel like, and what the moves were and there was no stage big enough in the world, so we had to build a stage and then we had to build all those things. We had Cirque du Soleil performers practice in them and show us what they were going to look like, then these guys have to end up doing it. It was incredible but it was fun to really aspire, and I think Gal and I talking about this from the very start we were saying “However they would fight, it would be completely different, and they’re friends”, or at least they have this friendship in the past. It’s not about punching in the face and they’re both literally trying to get the other one under control. I think Cheetah has worse intentions than that! Narratively it was fascinating, and then how it would work spatially was fascinating, then executing it was long and laborious and wild, but also exciting because you would see the moves and be like “Woooooah! That’s so awesome”. KW: Everything was very planned out too, with the set; it was all completely intentional and everything was so beautifully choreographed. GG: It was a lot; I feel like everything about this movie, it was a lot. Everything was super planned ahead, if it goes to sets and locations and costumes and fight coordination and the acting, everything was – like Patty said – laborious but at the end of the day, that’s why now watching the movie you can tell that it shows. Patty really made a point about wanting to have the minimum amount of CGI in our movie, so most of the stuff that you’re gonna see is real people doing the real thing – if it’s us or the stunt people – it’s real people. It took much longer; you have to prep and to rehearse much longer. The wire work that we have done at the mall and the fight with Cheetah… I don’t think it was ever done before, just because people don’t do these types of wire rigs any more; they just do CGI. When you see it in the movie, you can just tell that it’s the real deal; you can tell by he face expressions that it’s real, you can see the weight and the movement and the speed. It’s the hardest movie that I ever got to shoot by far, but it was worth it, and it was worth it especially because the first movie was received in such an amazing way that there was just no way that we’re gonna take any short cuts, and we’re just gonna raise the bar and give everything we have, because we knew people we so invested with the character and cared so much about her.
It sounds like so much went into the film, it must have been exhausting!
GG: We shot the movie for almost eight months, and it was so intense, and so long, and so exhausting and physical and everything. I think that the fact that we were there for each other for real, we were there to make each other laugh, we were there to hug each other when one of us was crying, and during the weekends we wanted to get together again with everybody. The biggest gift for me from this movie, and I think one of the key elements to why these movies that we’re making are really working, is because we absolutely love and adore each other for real. The chemistry is just there and I couldn’t be more lucky.
Words: Brogen Hayes
WONDER WOMAN 1984 is released in Irish cinemas on December 16th 2020