Jump to: Spoilers (7)
After finding out that the adaptation was in the works, Saoirse Ronan reached out to Greta Gerwig and told her she decided she was going to play Jo March. Gerwig was initially hesitant to cast Ronan after having just worked with her on Lady Bird (2017), but after realizing that more or less casting herself was a very Jo thing to do, Gerwig sent Ronan an email that said "Yes, you're Jo."
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Florence Pugh had just finished filming Midsommar (2019), a few days prior to when she started shooting this film. She said that getting to play Amy after making such a stressful and anxiety-inducing film was her version of therapy.
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Amy's speech about marriage was not in the initial script, but was suggested by Meryl Streep. After working and talking with director Greta Gerwig, Streep asserted that there needed to be a moment in the film that gave modern audiences the opportunity to understand the true powerlessness of women in that period; not only could they not vote or work, but through marriage they would lose ownership of their money, property, and children. The speech was written shortly before shooting the scene.
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According to Florence Pugh, Amy's big speech to Laurie about marriage was given to Pugh by director Greta Gerwig a few minutes before they were due to shoot the scene. It was handwritten on a piece of scrap paper.
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Costume designer Jacqueline Durran made several duplicate costume pieces for Jo and Laurie to make it seem like the characters share clothes.
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Emma Watson took over the role of Meg March from Emma Stone, who became unavailable due to scheduling conflicts with promoting The Favourite (2018). Coincidentally, Stone previously took over the role of Mia in La La Land (2016) after Watson dropped out of the project due to the commitment of her role as Belle in the Disney live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast (2017).
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Although they portray heroines of American literature, none of the four leading ladies are American. Emma Watson and Florence Pugh are English, Saoirse Ronan is Irish, and Eliza Scanlen is Australian. Note that Saoirse Ronan was raised in Ireland, but was born in The Bronx, New York and Emma Watson was born in Paris, France but raised in Oxfordshire, England.
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Director Greta Gerwig was 6 months pregnant with her first child by the time filming ended and went into labor 48 hours after turning in her rough edit. She succeeded in keeping her pregnancy under wraps so well that nobody on set knew she was expecting.
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Greta Gerwig worked extensively to have her version of Little Women mirror the story of Alcott, who drew from her own life for her work. Gerwig said that she saw Jo as the heroine of her youth, and Louisa May Alcott as the heroine of her adulthood: "What she did, that she wrote all this down. She made the lives of girls and women a best-seller. And that was extraordinary."
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Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh had been looking forward to filming the fight scene between Jo and Amy. Just before shooting, Pugh eagerly gave Ronan permission to fully slap her in the face.
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Each sister was given a distinctive color palette for their wardrobe: Meg's is lavender and green, Jo's is red and indigo, Beth's is pink and brown, and Amy's is light blue. Their mother Marmie often wears a combination of all their colors.
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The March house was designed to look plain from the outside, but be bright and colorful inside. Because of this, it earned the nickname "the jewel box" on set.
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Greta Gerwig was originally tasked by Sony Pictures to write a new screen adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel after the studio had rejected earlier scripts by Olivia Milch and Sarah Polley. However, after the success of Gerwig's Lady Bird (2017), Sony Pictures hastily offered Gerwig the chance to direct this film using her script in the hopes of forcing the delayed project into production after years of development hell.
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While shooting the scene at the dinner table when the father arrives home, Bob Odenkirk kept everybody laughing with dirty jokes and stories.
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Filmed entirely in Massachusetts.
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Laura Dern not only co-stars in this 2019 film written & directed by Greta Gerwig but also co-starred in 2019's award-winning Marriage Story (2019), written & directed by Noah Baumbach, Gerwig's life partner & the father of their newborn son. In addition, both of these films were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and the latter film earned Dern her first Oscar.
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The 2019 version received three of the exact same Academy Award nominations with the 1994 version: Best Actress, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score; at the same time, it also received same Academy Award nominations with the 1933 version: Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. In addition, Thomas Newman, the composer for the 1994 version, competed for an Academy Award for Best Original Score for 1917 (2019) against Alexandre Desplat, who scored the 2019 version, but both lost the award to Hildur Guðnadóttir for Joker (2019).
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Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet and Tracy Letts all previously collaborated on Greta Gerwig's solo feature film directorial debut, Lady Bird (2017).
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This version of the film was released on Christmas Day in 2019, 25 years to the day after Little Women (1994).
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With six Oscar nominations, this is the most a theatrically released version of Little Women has received. The 1933, 1949, and 1994 versions, all together received eight nominations (winning two).
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The film's cast includes three Oscar winners: Laura Dern, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper; and three Oscar nominees: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh (nominated for this film), and Timothée Chalamet. By coincidence, both Dern and Pugh competed together in 2020 for many Best Supporting Actress awards, including the Academy Award and BAFTA Award, for their roles in Marriage Story (2019) and this film, with the former winning an Oscar. In addition, both Dern's and Pugh's Oscar competition also drew similar occurrence that played out at the 1995 Oscars, when both Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder competed for the Academy Award for Best Actress for their roles in The Client (1994) and Little Women (1994) (of which Sarandon and Ryder starred in the latter as both mother and daughter, the same relationship that Dern and Pugh also portrayed in the 2019 version).
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Saoirse Ronan and Meryl Streep competed in 2018 for many Best Actress awards, including the Academy Award, for their respective leading roles in Lady Bird (2017) and The Post (2017), but both lost to Frances McDormand for her leading role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017).
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This is the second version of Little Women to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay following Little Women (1933). This is also the second version of Little Women to receive nominations for Best Actress, Best Costume Design and Best Music/Original Score following Little Women (1994).
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In between takes of Aunt March and Amy in the European carriage, Meryl Streep casually mentioned that she was in the mood for french fries. A few minutes later, a production assistant delivered Wendy's fries to her and the rest of the crew.
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Denise Di Novi and Robin Swicord, the producers of this film, also worked on the 1994 version of Little Women (1994). In that film version, Di Novi also served as the producer while Swicord wrote the screenplay.
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With her role as Jo March, this is the second time that Saoirse Ronan has portrayed one of Katharine Hepburn's iconic roles (she played the title character in Mary Queen of Scots (2018)). She also shared a common bond with Winona Ryder, who played Jo in the 1994 version of Little Women (1994). Ronan also played Abigail Williams in the 2016 Broadway revival of "The Crucible," the same role that Ryder played in the 1996 film.
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There have been five American theatrical versions of "Little Women." In the role of Aunt March, Mary Wickes was the oldest at 84 in the 1994 version; Meryl Streep, Lucile Watson, and Julia Hurley were all 70 in the 2019, 1949, and 1918 versions, respectively, and Edna May Oliver was only 50 in the 1933 version. Two television versions in 1978 (Little Women (1978)) and 2017 (Little Women (2017)) featured Greer Garson at 74 and Angela Lansbury at 92 (making her the oldest to play Aunt March in either film or television).
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The camera crew had to rely a lot on trick photography, special lenses, and forced perspective in order to obscure the fact that Timothée Chalamet is only five feet, ten inches tall.
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Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, and Florence Pugh were considered for the role of Yelena Belova in Black Widow (2020). Ultimately, Pugh landed the role.
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This film marks Emma Watson's third time using an American accent, after The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) and The Bling Ring (2013).
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Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, Greta Gerwig and Timothée Chalamet have all worked with Wes Anderson. Ronan starred in The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Streep and Gerwig lend their voices to Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Isle of Dogs (2018), and Chalamet and Ronan are set to appear in the upcoming The French Dispatch (2020).
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This is the thirteenth film produced by Amy Pascal following her departure from Sony Pictures. While Chairperson of Sony Pictures, Pascal defended the gender pay gap at her company. When queried why she paid her actresses less than male actors, Pascal replied: "People want to work for less money, I'll pay them less money. I don't call them up and go, 'Can I give you some more?'"
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Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper previously appeared in Adaptation. (2002) and August: Osage County (2013). The latter was written by Tracy Letts who based it on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.
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Florence Pugh appeared in two different 2019 movies in which her character wears a flower crown in significant scenes. She played Amy March in this film, in which she and other characters wore them during Meg's wedding, and she played Dani Ardor in Midsommar (2019), in which multiple characters wore them in ritual contexts. The main movie poster and emblematic image for Midsommar depicts Pugh in extreme close-up, wearing a flower crown, and crying.
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Meryl Streep appeared alongside character actress Mary Wickes in Postcards from the Edge (1990) who four years later would play Aunt March in Little Women (1994).
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Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, and Tracy Letts all previously worked together in Steven Spielberg's The Post (2017), which was also co-produced by Amy Pascal and Spielberg.
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Meryl Streep co-starred with Angela Lansbury in Mary Poppins Returns (2018). Lansbury played Aunt March in the BBC TV series Little Women (2017), the same role that Streep played in the 2019 adaptation. In addition, both Streep and Lansbury also played the villainous role of the candidate's dominating mother in Richard Condon's adaptations of The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and The Manchurian Candidate (2004), respectively.
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Saoirse Ronan appeared alongside Susan Sarandon in Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones (2009). Sarandon previously portrayed Marmee March in the 1994 version of Little Women (1994).
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Eliza Scanlen (Beth March) does play piano. The scenes where Beth is playing piano in the movie, actually is Eliza Scanlen playing. She had to practice three hours a day to be prepared for the role, because it was a prerequisite in order to play Beth.
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In the 1994 film, Mr. Brooke was played by Eric Stoltz. Stoltz and Laura Dern appeared together in Mask (1985).
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In the 1994 film, Amy was played as a child by Kirsten Dunst. Dunst and Laura Dern played mother and daughter soon after, in The Siege at Ruby Ridge (1996).
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In the original novel, Friedrich Bhaer comes to visit the March household because he has found a publisher for Jo's manuscript. In Gerwig's film, Bhaer comes to visit because he loves Jo and the publisher is persuaded to release Jo's novel after his own daughters are so captivated by the story. Gerwig said she wanted to make this departure because she wanted Jo's love of her work to be her central love story in the film, and the romance to Bhaer felt slightly secondary.
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The original novel was published in parts, so that the first half was published before the ending was decided. The scenes between Jo and her publisher mirror actual discussions that took place between Louisa May Alcott and her publisher about whether, and to whom, Jo would be married at the end. The scene where she reconciles with Bhaer is noted in the script as "possibly fiction."
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Timothée Chalamet improvised during his scene proposing to Jo.
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In the book, Aunt March is actually the girls' great-aunt, as she is Mr. March's aunt. However, in this film he calls her his sister.
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Jo never wears corsets in the film, which was quite unusual for the time. Even among her sisters, Jo is the only one to make that choice.
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Friedrich, a German character, is portrayed by Louis Garrel, a French actor with a distinctly French accent. Friedrich's country of origin is never mentioned, but his name is German. Most of the characters pronounce his name in the German style while Louis pronounces his character's name in the French style of "Frederic". Many French people do have German names (and vice versa); much of east-central France shares a modern border with Germany, and that border has moved over the centuries according to the vicissitudes of war and geopolitics. Gabriel Byrne, an Irish actor who played the character in the 1994 adaptation, portrayed Friedrich with a German accent.
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Although not mentioned but visible on the sign in front of the property, the mansion that Aunt March leaves to Jo is called Plumfield.
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