British actress Emma Watson (the Harry Potter films, Beauty and the Beast) plays Meg, the eldest of the March sisters, in Columbia Pictures’ Oscar-winning drama, Little Women (in Philippine cinemas February 19).
Writer-director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott, and unfolds as the author’s alter ego, Jo March, reflects back and forth on her fictional life. In Gerwig’s take, the beloved story of the March sisters—four young women each determined to live life on her own terms—is both timeless and timely. Portraying the March sisters Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth, the film stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, with Timothee Chalamet as their neighbor Laurie, Laura Dern as Marmee, and Meryl Streep as Aunt March.
Meg may be the most traditionally maternal of the sisters, but she also is a headstrong perfectionist who knows exactly who she is and what she wants. That’s what excited Emma Watson about the role.
“What was really important to me about playing Meg is that I think her desire to be a mother and a wife is a feminist choice,” Watson explains. “There’s this idea that in order to be a feminist you need to reject marriage. But a union with a spouse is what Meg wants most in her heart. As she says to Jo on her wedding day: just because my dreams are not the same as yours does not make them unimportant.”
Adds Gerwig: “Meg wants to get married and have children, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have second thoughts about not marrying someone rich. Meg figuring out how to make her life choices work is something that really struck me in re-reading the book.”
Having the chance to go beyond Meg’s joyful nuptials with the hard-working tutor John Brooke (James Norton) was especially intriguing for Watson. “We’re used to seeing women get married and that’s where the story stops, so to actually see Meg navigate as a mother and wife, trying to figure out how you keep a relationship together under so many stresses, was refreshing,” says Watson. “The realities push Meg to her edge. They push her to ask: was everything I believed in real? Do happy endings exist? Can love last forever? You see her fight for her dream because good things in life have to be earned.”
Practical as she is, Watson sees Meg as being drawn to John’s more ineffable side—his generosity and compassion. “John continually steps into the breach when there is a crisis, doing the jobs that are unglamorous, and that’s what earns Meg’s respect. She chooses a man who is going to show up.”
Continues Watson, “Meg’s reasons for why she wants to marry John are all about how he cared for her father when he was wounded and how he treats her mother and sisters as though they are his own. Those are things that truly matter to her, and the way he is there for the family on a daily basis has an incredible value that Meg sees clearly.”
Praised by the London Critics Circle as “heartwarming, laugh-out-loud funny and powerfully emotional,” Little Women received six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress (Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Pugh) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Gerwig).
The film currently has a 95% Fresh Rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with an overall critical consensus that reads, “With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless.”
Little Women is distributed in the Philippines by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Join the conversation and connect with #LittleWomenMovie