“These little women — just how little are they? Are they, like, scary little?” — Joey from Friends
It has been announced that Sony is working on a new adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women. My first question is, of course, “Do we really need another adaptation of one of the most beloved novels of the last two centuries?”
Two silent films in 1917 and 1918; the 1933 film starring Katharine Hepburn; the 1949 version starring Elizabeth Taylor; and finally, the most recent 1994 film adaptation starring Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, and Claire Da — nope, can’t even think about that without crying — leave the material pretty well covered on the big screen.
My second questions is, “So what?” It’s a great story and if Winona Ryder and Christian Bale are now old enough to play the little women’s parents, perhaps it’s time for another rendition. So let’s just hope for a good script from newcomer Olivia Milch and an excellent cast.
Developing an adaptation can generally go two different routes: classic or risky (re: interesting). Maybe this adaptation could be in a different time period with a multi-ethnic adopted group of daughters. Maybe Jo could be a lesbian. But really, we can go ahead and assume that Sony will go the classic route, flushing my dreams of Michael B. Jordan as Laurie down the drain. Working with the 1868 source material, let’s do some dream casting with Hollywood’s brightest young things:
Jo: As the non-conforming protagonist, Jo has to be fierce and strong, with a soft spot for her sisters. Winona Ryder and Katharine Hepburn are big shoes to fill, but Brie Larson proved herself a master of “falling apart while making it work” in festival darling Short Term 12. She’s had breakout indie roles, but this one could be a perfect fit for a guest appearance in the blockbuster world.
Meg: Meg is the ultimate little woman of her time: beautiful, motherly and marriage-focused. But she’s also love-focused, and Mia Wasikowska — who looks like she could be Brie Larson’s sister — would be lovely as the idealistic eldest March sister. And it would be fun to see her play someone a little more romantic than some of her creepier recent turns.
Beth: It’s hard not to just want Claire Danes to play Beth again. No one cried like Claire Danes in that role (and then all her other roles) and nothing makes people cry like (spoiler alert from 1868) Beth dying. Alas, Danes is all Carrie’d up these days, so Sony will need another gentle and naive waif: Elle Fanning. The younger Fanning has proven herself a talent in Somewhere and Ginger & Rosa and would be easily loved and lost as Beth.
Amy: Oh, Amy is just the worst. It’s so hard to like her, but she is a March sister and so we must give her our limes and our hearts. And to be fair, everyone is pretty terrible when they’re 12. You need a cute face to pull off that role, and no child actor has a cuter face than Maggie Elizabeth Jones (from Ben and Kate, RIP). She would grow seamlessly into Amanda Seyfried as Old Amy, and with the other sisters being blond, Amy being a redhead would be a slightly varied twist.
Marmee: Susan Sarandon is hard to beat in the role of Marmee. She’s just so good at making every moment a teachable one! But Julianne Moore stands a good chance, and I would love to see her in a warmer, more maternal role. (Carrie doesn’t count.)
Laurie: Let me be clear here: I will only truly be happy hearing Michael B. Jordan say, “I shall never stop loving you; but the love is altered, and I have learned to see that it is better as it is.” But unless the time period and/or general narrative make some drastic changes, our guy has to be rich and white. How about Aaron Taylor-Johnson? Laurie is charming and dreamy, but he’s also kind of a romantic dork. Taylor-Johnson has the talent and looks to pull off the only real heartthrob in the story, and the personal background of making intriguing marriage decisions. Substitute: Aaron Tveit.
Aunt March: Judi Dench. It can only be Judi Dench.
Or maybe they’ll just pull a Nutty Professor and cast Taylor Swift in every role.