Saoirse Ronan being cast as Jo March in Greta Gerwig’s remake of Little Women is a stroke of brilliance, to be sure. But now Ronan is revealing just how much she shares in common with the Louisa May Alcott protagonist.
In a new joint cover story with Timothée Chalamet for Entertainment Weekly to promote the film, Ronan discussed her deep connection with Jo and revealed the interesting ways she channeled the headstrong heroine during rehearsals and filming. “Jo’s ethos is ‘Everything everyone else is doing, I’m going to do the opposite,’” she tells Entertainment Weekly. “[I had] to try things that I’d never tried before. Be a bit messier with a performance.” This included ignoring the specific instructions—“Don’t shake hands! Don’t gesticulate with your arms!”—from an etiquette instructor that Gerwig had set up for the cast.
“I felt like I had tapped into something I’d never gotten the opportunity to tap into before, or I just didn’t have the guts to tap into myself,” Ronan says. “Finding that was just amazing.”
Naturally, people are already counting down until the film’s release date on Christmas Day. Gerwig, who also worked with Ronan and Chalamet in Ladybird, wrote and directed the project. “The two of us, it’s a relationship I have with no other director,” Ronan says of Gerwig. “She makes me feel like I can try anything.”
Rounding out the cast are Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen as Jo’s sisters (Meg, Amy, and Beth, respectively).
But even with such a variety of interesting female roles available in the story, Ronan says she knew from the beginning that she was meant to be Jo. “When Louisa [May Alcott, the author] describes Jo, it felt like someone describing me physically,” she says, “Sort of gangly and stubborn and very straightforward, and went for what she wanted.”