It takes a special piece of literature to stand the test of time the way that Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” has. First published in 1868, the novel has been adapted and shared several times over the years, normally bringing out the best and the brightest in Hollywood every time that they try to mount a handsome period recreation of Alcott’s tale.
Greta Gerwig (LADY BIRD) will be the next director to tackle the timeless story of the March sisters. Her LITTLE WOMEN reaches theatres on December 25 and is primed for a healthy Oscar® run (if the pundits are to be believed).
As we prepare for the release of LITTLE WOMEN, we wanted to compare how the casting of Gerwig’s new film stacks up against the most memorable version in recent history, the 1994 adaptation of LITTLE WOMEN directed by Gillian Armstrong. Both tapped into the hottest talents of the time and seemed to find the ideal actors for the beloved characters. Here’s a look at LITTLE WOMEN, then and now.
The oldest of the March sisters and the one who looks out for her siblings. Meg is destined to be a domestic role model, groomed for a place in society that leads to a husband (she marries John Brooke), a family and a well-kept household. Meg doesn’t strive for independence, which often puts her at odds with Josephine, her strong-willed sister.
In 1994, Armstrong cast Trini Alvarado as Meg, the nurturing oldest March sister. And later in the film, she wed her version of John Brooke, played by the handsome Eric Stoltz. Gerwig has swung for the fences with the casting of her Meg, landing Emma Watson (the HARRY POTTER franchise) and pairing her on screen with James Norton. Audiences likely will swoon.
A fan favorite, Josephine “Jo” March is meant to represent Louisa May Alcott on the page. She’s headstrong and vibrant, a lover of books and literature who has a dream of pursuing a literary career in New York City. Jo is a free spirit in a time when that character trait usually leads to trouble.
Greta Gerwig turns to her LADY BIRD lead, the outstanding Saoirse Ronan, to bring Jo to life in 2019. And really, over the years, we have learned that there is literally nothing Ronan can’t do effectively. She is the ideal choice to play Jo — as was Winona Ryder back in 1994, when Gillian Armstrong needed a famous star to play the most popular character in Alcott’s world.
Beth March is a sweet and tragic figure. She’s the quiet peacemaker of the March sisters, the shy but intelligent one who intervenes when her headstrong sisters quarrel. But Beth eventually becomes sick, and her illness has a profound effect on Jo, ultimately teaching her to appreciate the gift that is life, because our days on this Earth are fleeting.
Claire Danes was an inspired choice to play Beth in 1994. She was a big star, thanks to her TV series “My So-Called Life,” and she was about to take off in movies such as ROMEO + JULIET with Leonardo DiCaprio. LITTLE WOMEN helped turn her into a massive movie star. In 2019, Greta Gerwig turns to Eliza Scanlen, an Australian up-and-comer who turned heads in HBO’s “Sharp Objects.” LITTLE WOMEN will be her biggest role. Will it also be a breakout part?
Amy Curtis March
Finally, the last of the four March sisters. Amy is the baby of the family, as well as the resident artist. She’s a little self-centered (the result of being the youngest in the family), and has been described as some as the least likable of the March sisters.
Again, the 1994 version of LITTLE WOMEN went with star power. Young Kirsten Dunst filled the role of Amy, with Samantha Mathis assuming the role when they showed Amy at an older age. Amy eventually crosses paths with Laurie, and he was played by Christian Bale. In Gerwig’s version, Amy will be played by the red-hot Florence Pugh, who is making a name for herself thanks to MIDSOMMAR, FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY and the upcoming BLACK WIDOW movie for Marvel. As for her Laurie, he will be played by Timothée Chalamet. So yeah, get your tickets immediately.
LITTLE WOMEN is poised to be a massive hit this Christmas season, thanks in part to the beloved source material and the impressive cast. The movie will be in theatres starting on Christmas Day. As for the 1994 version, you can revisit it right now via our AMC Theatres On Demand service. Dive right in!