Thursday 2nd 2011f June 2011

At the age of just 26, Israeli beauty Gal Gadot is a model, wife, businesswoman and Hollywood starlet. She tells Jenny Bamberger all about her new TV show, rubbing shoulders with A - listers, and changing the bed sheets at her husband's hotel...

Gal Gadot had just finished her military service when she auditioned for Fast Four, part of the Fast & Furious franchise. She had also just appeared in Maxim magazine's "Women of the Israeli Army" photo shoot. And while Gadot is still in the early stages of her acting career, she has worked alongside some of Hollywood's biggest names, including Vin Diesel, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.
Filming Fast Four had the "wow effect" for Gadot, as it was her first time shooting in the US - not to mention in Hollywood. "It was a huge deal for me. I remember my first reaction to being on set: I kept thinking 'Wow, I actually have my own trailer'.

“Everything was so exciting, there was a huge cast and the fact that I got to work with such great American actors was so new and exhilarating. After Fast Four, I continued to work in the US - the more roles I worked on, the more normal it became. The 'Wow Effect' gradually wore off.

“Shooting Fast Five was less tense than filming Fast Four. I was able to focus better on work and enjoying the experience for what it was. It felt like a huge family reunion. Even though everyone after the last film worked separately on their own projects, we managed to keep in touch and still spoke to each other every so often. We'd go for dinner together whenever we were all in New York. It was always nice when the group were back together again so it was great to be reunited for a long period of time."

So who are the best and worst people she’s worked with?
“That's like asking me whether I favour mummy or daddy. Everyone that I've worked with has been special in their own way. I learnt a lot from Tom Cruise. Then there's Mark Wahlberg, who constantly made me laugh. I've been lucky in that I haven't had to work with people that I don't have chemistry with. I've had some amazing experiences and have learnt a lot from those who have made names for themselves in the industry."

Gadot is proud of her heritage and is keen to fly the flag for her home country - especially in Europe, where views on Israel aren't always positive.
"I definitely have a strong sense of my Jewish and Israeli identity. I did my two year military service, I was brought up in a very Jewish, Israeli family environment, so of course my heritage is very important to me. I want people to have a good impression of Israel. I don't feel like I'm an ambassador for my country, but I do talk about Israel a lot - I enjoy telling people about where I come from and my religion.

"I find that people in the US, especially in Hollywood, tend to have positive opinions on Israel - both Jewish and non-Jewish people alike. But when I travel to Europe, people often don't know as much about Israel, and sadly a lot of them have a negative impression of the country. That's when I'll talk and talk and tell them all about where I come from.”

Gadot doesn't spend all her time in front of the cameras. She also helps with the running of her husband's hotel The Varsano, a five-star boutique hotel in Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv - including, she claims, changing the bed sheets. How involved was she in setting up the family business?

“After I shot Fast Four, my husband Yaron and I started travelling back and forth from Israel and the US, which was hard. We found ourselves staying in hotels all the time. We wanted to feel at home, which is when we discovered these apartments within a hotel in Los Angeles. It became the inspiration for Yaron's hotel, The Varsano. I think that Yaron and I make a really good team. I understand his career and he understands mine. We help each other progress in all areas of life. We're both very career driven."

Passionate about spending time in her homeland, is it difficult to juggle her time between Israel and Hollywood?

"At the moment, my time is split between Israel and Los Angeles. Although the travelling can sometimes be tough, it means that I get to enjoy both worlds. It' really important for me that I continue working on features and dramas in Israel while also working in the US.

"Right now, I'm focusing on my acting career. I love pursuing new projects. As an actor or actress you’re always moving from one venture to the next. I will hopefully be working on the sixth instalment of Fast & Furious next year. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to work on such a big franchise. I'm also working on a few things in Israel - a TV show called Assur (Forbidden). If it does well, there's a chance that they'll make an American version.

“So maybe one day I'll spend more time in the US. Moving to LA is a possibility. I'm always up for a challenge. We'll have to wait and see what happens.”

- Fast & Furious 5 is out now on DVD