There's no shortage of Little Women adaptations out there — books, plays, and, of course, films — and perhaps it’s not hard to understand why. There's just something about the beloved March sisters, growing up in New England in the 1800s, that has brought comfort and joy to so many generations.
MASTERPIECE released its version of the classic novel in 2018. The three-part miniseries gives the story more room to breathe and allows us more time to get to know each of the lovely, dynamic characters. The story is brought to life by a slew of veteran actors and up-and-coming young talent. Here’s a look at the cast:
Emily Watson as Marmee March
Watson steps into the role of the March matriarch with warmth and wit. The Brit is one of a handful of actors from across the pond who donned their best American accent for this New England story. Watson has a long career in film and theater. You may recognize her from a range of movies like Angela’s Ashes, Punch-Drunk Love, The Theory of Everything and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. She was recently nominated for both an Emmy and Golden Globe for her supporting role in HBO’s Chernobyl series. She also picked up Oscar nominations for her debut movie role in Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves and for her part as Jacqueline du Pré in Hilary and Jackie.
Maya Hawke as Jo March
Taking on the role of the rebellious March sister is Maya Hawke. This was Hawke’s screen debut; she was enrolled at the famed performing arts school Juilliard before dropping out and accepting the role. Since then, she has starred in Netflix’s Stranger Things, and had a part as “Flower Girl” in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Oh, and she’s kind of Hollywood royalty: her parents are actors Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, so we know where she gets her talent.
Willa Fitzgerald as Meg March
Willa Fitzgerald stars as Meg, the eldest March sister who is in search of a happy ending. The American actress is best known for her role on MTV’s Scream, a TV series based on the classic horror movies about a group of teenagers being hunted by a serial killer. She has also had roles on Amazon’s Alpha House, Netflix’s House of Cards and USA Network's Royal Pains.
Kathryn Newton as Amy March
The role of the youngest and probably most controversial March sister (that book-burning scene is just as devastating in this version of the story) is Kathryn Newton. Newton is a young actress with a bright future. She has already appeared on HBO’s Big Little Lies, Netflix’s The Society, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, and the movies Pokémon Detective Pikachu and the critically-acclaimed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Annes Elwy as Beth March
The Welsh actress stars as Beth, the beloved sister with a tragic storyline. Elwy was committed to the role and even learned piano so that she could better play the talented young musician. Before Little Women, Elwy appeared in the sci-fi series Electric Dreams.
Jonah Hauer-King as Laurie Laurence
As the heartthrob and object of the March sisters’ romantic interests, Jonah Hauer-King brings a sweetness to the character of Laurie. He’s no stranger to MASTERPIECE productions; you may recognize him from the Howards End miniseries, and he has a starring role in the upcoming World War II drama World on Fire. Disney fans should look out for him as Prince Eric in the recently-announced live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.
Angela Lansbury as Aunt March
Little Women wouldn’t be complete without the fierce Aunt March, played in this miniseries by Angela Lansbury. She’s a Hollywood legend, and has been performing for more than seven decades. She got her start in the 1940s, nabbing roles in Gaslight and The Picture of Dorian Gray, which led to two Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe nomination. From there, she appeared in the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate, and had starring roles on stage in Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, and The King and I, and on the small screen in the series Murder, She Wrote. She has picked up a few awards: an Honorary Oscar, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, five Tony Awards, six Golden Globes, an Olivier Award, and 18 Emmy nominations. Plus, Queen Elizabeth II made her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, so she’s Dame Lansbury to us.
Michael Gambon as Mr. Laurence
If you're a Harry Potter fan, it’s hard to see Michael Gambon as anyone except Albus Dumbledore. Alas, all wizardry aside, Gambon has had a legendary career on screen and the stage. He has appeared in films such as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, Gosford Park, The King's Speech and TV shows like The Singing Detective, Wives and Daughters, Emma, The Casual Vacancy, and Churchill's Secret. He, too, is acting royalty: he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 for his services to drama.
Watch all three parts of MASTERPIECE’s Little Women on WGBH2 on Sunday, March 22, and watch it now streaming on Passport.