No matter who plays her in any future DC movie or television show, for an entire generation, the name “Wonder Woman” is synonymous with actress Lynda Carter, who portrayed her for three seasons in the late seventies. Recently, Nerdist got the chance to catch up with the legendary icon to ask her about her upcoming appearances on Skin Wars, as well as her thoughts on the new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot.
Nerdist: This week you’re going to be a judge on the new reality body painting series Skin Wars that premiered this summer on Game Show Network. How did that all come about? Was body painting something you were already a fan of?
Lynda Carter: Well, I got a call from the people at Skin Wars, and actually, it was from [series judge] RuPaul, who asked for me, and I had been hearing about the tremendous artistry that was going on in the show. And I just adore RuPaul…this guy is a tireless worker, just with everything that he does, and I just think he’s so fabulous. I love being with him. And just the artistry…it’s an art form where, you know, you’re in it for the art, because you just can’t really make a lot of money! It’s not like you can just go and get a job just anywhere as a skin artist, unless it’s working at a tattoo parlor maybe. So I’d watched it, I’d heard about, but I get invited to do a lot of these things, but I’m very picky about what I say yes to. But I said yes to this.
N: I saw that you recently accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money to fight ALS; I saw the video on YouTube…
LC: Yes! I did it with one of the guys from Bethesda Softworks, which is a big game company here, and they set it up for us. It was great. And it was my husband who dumped the water on me actually.
N: It was the new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, who issued the ice bucket challenge to you. Have you had a chance to talk to her at all since she took on the role? You set the template for how the character should be played, after all. And in one of your tweets you mentioned that you two were “sisters in this now.”
LC: No, I haven’t heard from her. I did say that though. But I haven’t heard anything back yet.
N: I think it’s super exciting to have a new Wonder Woman, but I’m disappointed that she’s not being presented in her own movie first. Back in the seventies, there wasn’t just Wonder Woman, there was Bionic Woman and Police Woman and Charlie’s Angels. And now it seems they’re terrified of making a solo female action movie, and every time one is successful, like The Hunger Games, Hollywood treats it like a fluke. What do you think happened?
LC: I’ll tell you what it is…just why Wonder Woman worked. Or Bionic Woman, or any of those really. It was because it wasn’t about brawn…it was about brains. And yes, she happened to be beautiful, she happened to be kind of extraordinary in some way, but she wasn’t a guy. And I think that, often times, they try to put out a female hero, and all they are doing is changing the costume from a man to a woman. It’s really a man could be doing the same part; they’re not showcasing any of the tremendous dichotomies than women possess in term of softness and toughness, sweetness and grit, and inner and outer strength. You know, nobody wants a “ballbuster.” But you champion the woman who takes out the pepper spray and saves herself from an attacker and shows off tremendous kind of bravery in so many ways. And I think that’s the main thing that people miss…they just put a woman in a male character’s part now. And you know, women bear children, and we have to multitask in so many ways.
N: I’ve always felt, as a huge fan of the comic book character, that the main reason you portrayed her so well is that you always remembered to bring out her kindness, that you showed that she could be strong and kind at the same time. And that’s something I’m scared they’ll lose now.
LC: You know, if doesn’t work this time, I might just have to write it myself! [Laughs]
N: I’d be totally OK with that!
LC: One thing that is missing from that great photograph [Warner Brothers] released of Gal Gadot… I mean, she looks really great in it, but where are the colors? Where’s the red, white, and blue?
N: I agree. Although I’ve seen that official picture they released of her stripped of the filters, and there’s a bit more color. But I agree, it’s not enough. I miss the colors.
LC: Yeah, those are her colors. And it’s not 300. But we’ll see… I’m sure she’ll be great. She’s lovely. I kind of wish they’d cast an American, but you know, that’s ok. And I love Ben Affleck, I think he will be a great Batman. Ben can bring the humanity to all his parts. He can play the good guy, the bad guy, but behind that grin he’s got there is always that humanity. John Travolta had the same thing, he could play from Pulp Fiction to all the twisted parts he’s done, but you have that thing where you can’t help but like him. Ben Affleck is the same.
N: So of course Wonder Woman, she’s this enormous feminist icon. There have even been some great documentaries made about it. But she’s also a huge icon for the LGBT community. And I know that’s something you’ve embraced; you’ve been the Grand Marshall of several gay pride parades over the years. Where you aware that you’d become this huge gay icon back when the show was on?
LC: No I didn’t know, not at all. You are pretty well cocooned when you’re on a set all the time making a show like that. So I didn’t know, but I was thrilled when I found out! You know I was a huge fan of Bette Midler, and I started off as a singer way back, and I know she started singing in the bathhouses in New York City, doing her show, mostly entertaining for gay guys back before they all closed [because of the AIDS crisis] and I always thought “maybe that’s the key!” [laughs]
N: Well, that’s the good part of having a gay fan base…once we love you, we never forget you. We’re fans for life.
LC: I know! And I’m so grateful!
N: I was one of those little gay boys who worshiped Wonder Woman. When I was five, six years old I’d get in front of the TV and start spinning whenever you did. And my folks would try to get me to not do that, and I didn’t understand why. I didn’t have it drilled into me quite yet that “boys aren’t supposed to emulate girls.”
LC: Well, I sure hope you’re spinning now! [Laughs]
N: I know you’ve done a few things for the Broken Lizard guys, like Super Troopers and Dukes of Hazzard. Do you have plans to work with those guys ever again?
LC: Well, I think they’re working on something new. I talked to Jay [Chandrasekhar] maybe a couple of months ago, and I just love those guys and working with them. I don’t know if I’ll be in it, but I know it’ll be great.
Lynda Carter will appear on Skin Wars on The Game Show Network tonight at 9/8 Central.