Gal Gadot has defended her casting to play ancient Egyptian ruler Cleopatra saying she wants to "celebrate the legacy of Cleopatra" in the film. 

The 35-year-old Wonder Woman star will play Cleopatra in a film directed by Patty Jenkins. 

The casting of Gadot, who hails from Israel, has sparked backlash as she is not from Egypt. 

Speaking to BBC Arabic, Gadot said, "First of all, if you want to be true to the facts, then Cleopatra was Macedonian. 

"We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn't there. And I was very passionate about Cleopatra. 

"I have friends from across the globe, whether they’re Muslims or Christian or Catholic or atheist or Buddhist, or Jewish, of course … People are people. And with me, I want to celebrate the legacy of Cleopatra and honour this amazing historic icon that I admire so much." 

The film was reportedly subject to a bidding war between studios, with Paramount Pictures winning the script, which is written by Laeta Kalogridis. 

Elizabeth Taylor’s 1963 Cleopatria won four Oscars and became the highest-grossing film that year.