STACK caught up with director Patty Jenkins and the stars of Wonder Woman 1984 to get the lowdown on the DC blockbuster sequel.
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman soars and leaps through the skies. She stops tanks, takes on dozens of soldiers and whips the bad guys into submission with a flick of her golden lasso.
Yet for all of Wonder Woman 1984’s amazing stunts, by far the most difficult and expensive scene proved to be Gadot’s girl fight with Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah/Barbara Minerva.
“We had to build that entire space and have Cirque du Soliel performers practice the moves to show us how things would look, and then these guys had to do it for real,” says WW84 director Patty Jenkins of her leading ladies.
“From the beginning, Gal and I talked about, however they’re going to fight, it would be completely different because they’re friends, or at least they were friends. Also it’s not about punching in the face; they’re both trying to literally get the other one under control.”
For Wiig, best known for comedy, writing and starring in Bridesmaids, it was a daunting experience. “Patty made a point of not wanting much CGI, so most of what you see is real people, whether it’s us or the stunt people,” she tells STACK via Zoom.
“We had to prep and rehearse much longer than we thought and do a lot of wire work for the fight between Diana and Cheetah. I don’t think people do these kinds of wire rigs anymore, they just do CGI, but when you see it in the movie, you can just tell it’s the real deal.
It’s the hardest movie I’ve ever shot by far.”
Gadot relished their girl fight. “We have our own method and style of fighting, which is different. It’s not like the kick and the punch. It’s feminine, beautiful, graceful and sexy. The wire rigs were crazy and took months of work just to make sure we could do all the movements without getting the cable crossed,” she explains.
Both actresses trained for strength and flexibility as well as dance and choreography.
If Wiig is more accustomed to making audiences laugh, then she was surprised to be invited to play a villain. “I’m not usually asked to do those kind of things, to be honest. I’m a superhero geek so I was relieved, shocked and happy, as well as feeling extra pressure when I signed on. We didn’t want it to be the typical mousy girl turned villain.”
Jenkins never had any doubts Wiig was up to the challenge. “She’s a genius. She’s so smart and talented. She’s also one of the most sweet and sensitive people I’ve ever known. Gal and I both love her and were super fans. As the character of Barbara Minerva evolved, Kristen was just a no-brainer of who could play your best friend; a girl you really love and think is so great, but she’s so hard on herself all the time. Meanwhile, inside she is brewing a resentment, which is dangerous.”
Even if they end up in a catfight in WW84, it’s certainly a mutual appreciation between the two leading ladies.
“We’ve become very, very close friends and it was instant,” says Gadot. “She’s one of my favourite people in the whole world and I just love her. We had an amazing time and she’s so funny and warm. I just feel really lucky that she’s in my life.”
While STACK chatted with the cast over Zoom, we also met with Gadot and Wiig in person earlier in the year; the actresses insisting on being interviewed together and literally finishing one another’s sentences.
Back when we were first introduced to Gadot’s Wonder Woman in the 2017 blockbuster, it was at the end of WWI, the star and director spending much time debating where to pick up Diana Prince/Wonder Woman’s story for this sequel before settling on the ‘80s.
“We talked 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,” Gadot tells us. “She lost all her team members and she’s been very lonely. She doesn’t really want to engage and make new friends, because they’re only going to realise that she doesn’t age. So she kind of isolated herself from the world and her only goal is to help and guide mankind and try to do good.”
Jenkins was given a wide reign to choose which era she wanted to drop Wonder Woman into, but the ‘80s made the most sense.
“The 80s was like, ‘This is it, this is who we are and how we live’, and now we’re living in the results of a lot of that,” she says, referring to the era of opulence, big hair and big everything. “So it was an interesting way to see humankind at their best and what we still aspire to be before we knew any of the price. And the villains are very much born from that, so it ends up being a way to talk about now without having to literally be now.”
Jenkins also felt that Wonder Woman is synonymous with the ‘80s because of the popular TV show. “I always loved that Wonder Woman, and I wanted to jump forward far enough so that now she’s full blown Wonder Woman in the world. She’s at the top of her game.”
Audiences will recall that Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor died at the end of the first film, so without spoiling the plot of how WW84 conceives to return him to life, we will say that Pine is almost the chick in the movie, subjected to the indignity of the classic rom-com changing room montage featuring the worst of ‘80s fashion.
But we’ve seen Pine poke fun at his macho image before, as he did to great comic effect in the musical Into The Woods, so it’s no surprise that he rose to the challenge in WW84.
“It was fun to play the proverbial fish-out-of-water role, which is usually played by the woman. The greatest actor challenge of all time is to pretend to be a baby or a child seeing everything new for the first time,” says Pine, lamenting over a particular denim fanny-pack that failed to make the final cut.
And as WW84’s main baddie, Max Lord, actor Pedro Pascal brushed up on ‘80s fashion and found Donald Trump to be an inspiration. “Trump was such a presence in the ‘80s; such a representation of that ‘have it all’ kind of mentality. Go after it and by any means necessary,” says the Chilean born actor, best known for his roles in Game of Thrones and The Mandalorian.
“Sadly, I think somebody like Max Lord probably would’ve idolised Trump in the ‘80s. And then he would’ve grown out of it and not voted for him.”