Filmed entirely in Massachusetts.
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Florence Pugh had just finished filming Midsommar (2019), a few days prior to when she started shooting this movie. She said that getting to play Amy after making such a stressful and anxiety-inducing movie was her version of therapy.
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According to Florence Pugh, Amy's big speech to Theodore "Laurie" Laurence (Timothée Chalamet) about marriage was given to her by Writer and 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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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 e-mail that said "Yes, you're Jo."
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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 Writer and Director Greta Gerwig, Streep asserted that there needed to be a moment in this movie 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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Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran made several duplicate costume pieces for Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) and Theodore "Laurie" Laurence (Timothée Chalamet) to make it seem like the characters share clothes.
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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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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 Beauty and the Beast (2017).
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Although they portrayed heroines of American literature, only one of the four leading ladies is American. Emma Watson and Florence Pugh are English, Saoirse Ronan is American of Irish descent, and Eliza Scanlen is Australian. Note that Saoirse Ronan was raised in Ireland, but was born in Bronx, New York, which means that she is a native-born American; and Emma Watson was born in Paris, France, but raised in Oxfordshire, England.
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Writer and Director Greta Gerwig worked extensively to have her version of "Little Women" mirror the story of Louisa May 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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Writer and Director Greta Gerwig was six months pregnant with her first child by the time filming ended and went into labor forty-eight 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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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 Marmee often wears a combination of all of 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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Timothée Chalamet (Theodore "Laurie" Laurence) improvised during his scene proposing to Saoirse Ronan (Jo March).
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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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In the book, Aunt March is the girls' great-aunt, as she is Mr. March's aunt. However, in this movie, he calls her his sister.
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Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) never wears corsets in this movie, which was quite unusual for the time. Even amongst her sisters, Jo is the only one to make that choice.
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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 Lady Bird (2017), Sony Pictures hastily offered Gerwig the chance to direct this movie using her script in the hopes of forcing the delayed project into production after years of development hell.
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Laura Dern not only appeared in this movie, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, but also appeared in Marriage Story (2019), written and directed by Noah Baumbach, Gerwig's life partner and the father of their newborn son. In addition, both of these movies were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and the latter movie earned Dern her first Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
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This movie received three of the same Academy Award nominations as Little Women (1994): Best Actress, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score; at the same time, it also received the same Academy Award nominations as Little Women (1933): 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 this movie, but both lost the award to Hildur Guðnadóttir for Joker (2019).
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Friedrich, a German character, was 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 Little Women (1994), portrayed Friedrich with a German accent.
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This movie was released on December 25, 2019, twenty-five years after Little Women (1994).
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Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, and Tracy Letts appeared in Greta Gerwig's solo directorial debut of Lady Bird (2017).
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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 cast includes three Oscar winners: Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper; and three Oscar nominees: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Timothée Chalamet.
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Eliza Scanlen (Beth March) does play the piano. The scenes where Beth is playing piano in the movie, actually is 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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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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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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There have been five American theatrical versions of "Little Women". In the role of Aunt March, Mary Wickes was the oldest at eighty-four in Little Women (1994); Meryl Streep, Lucile Watson, and Julia Hurley were seventy in this movie, Little Women (1949), and Little Women (1918), respectively, and Edna May Oliver was only fifty in Little Women (1933). Two television versions - Little Women (1978) and Little Women (2017) - featured Greer Garson at seventy-four and Dame Angela Lansbury at ninety-two (making her the oldest to play Aunt March in either movies or television).
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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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With her role as Jo March, this is the second time that Saoirse Ronan 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 Little Women (1994). Ronan also played Abigail Williams in the 2016 Broadway revival of "The Crucible", the same role that Ryder played in The Crucible (1996).
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This is the second version of Little Women that received 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). With an Oscar win for Best Costume Design, this is the third Little Women to win an Oscar (and each time in a different category). Little Women (1933) won Best Adapted Screenplay and Little Women (1949) won Best Art Decoration-Set Decoration.
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Producers Denise Di Novi and Robin Swicord (whom both produced this film) also worked on Little Women (1994). In that version, Di Novi also served as the producer, while Swicord wrote the screenplay and co-produced the 1994 version.
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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. Ultimately, Pugh landed the role.
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This 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 appeared in The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Streep and Gerwig lent their voices to Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Isle of Dogs (2018), and Chalamet and Ronan appeared in The French Dispatch (2020).
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This is the thirteenth movie 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 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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Florence Pugh appeared in two 2019 movies in which her character wore a flower crown in significant scenes. She played Amy March in this movie, 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.
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Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper appeared in Adaptation. (2002) and August: Osage County (2013), with the latter being written by Tracy Letts, who based it on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.
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Meryl Streep appeared with Mary Wickes in Postcards from the Edge (1990), who played Aunt March in Little Women (1994).
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Meryl Streep and Dame Angela Lansbury appeared in Mary Poppins Returns (2018). Lansbury played Aunt March in Little Women (2017), the same role that Streep played in this movie. In addition, Lansbury and Streep played the villainous role of the candidate's dominating mother in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and The Manchurian Candidate (2004), respectively.
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Saoirse Ronan and Susan Sarandon appeared in The Lovely Bones (2009). Sarandon portrayed Marmee March in Little Women (1994).
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In Little Women (1994), Mr. Brooke was played by Eric Stoltz. Stoltz and Laura Dern appeared in Mask (1985).
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In Little Women (1994), Amy was played as a child by Kirsten Dunst. Dunst and Laura Dern appeared 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 this movie, 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. Writer and Director Greta Gerwig said she wanted to make this departure because she wanted Jo's love of her work to be her central love story in this movie, 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 was noted in the script as "possibly fiction".
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