Twenty-five-year-old Saoirse Ronan’s portrayal of Jo March in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination and a place in Academy history: it made her the second-youngest performer, male or female, to ever receive four Oscar nods.

Ronan has been nominated for Best Actress twice before: in 2016 for Brooklyn and in 2018 for Lady Bird. Prior to those, in 2008, she was up for Best Supporting Actress at just 13 for her role in Atonement.

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.

Ronan plays Jo March who stands as Alcott’s most influential creation—the rare fictional character who became a real-world heroine, inspiring generations of young dreamers aiming for lives of adventure and artistic expression.

The role as envisioned by Gerwig needed an actor of near-supernatural transparency, and Gerwig already knew exactly who had that quality. Having seen Ronan utterly embody the adolescent tornado of emotions at the center of Lady Bird, Gerwig knew Ronan could let the audience into Jo’s moods, her spirit, her thinking—and especially her “vortex of creativity” as Alcott called Jo’s daily bouts of writing.

“I can’t really talk about Saoirse,” Gerwig demurs, “because she’s just such a genius. I don’t know how she does it exactly. But feel very blessed that she’s worked with me twice.”

Ronan says that stepping into a role so beloved and so personal to every reader was a thrill—and a serious challenge. The hard part was trying to get beyond a mere sketch of Jo’s iconic feistiness and bring to life a palpably real person as full of real doubts and confusion as she is of talent, independence and the hunger for change. That meant thinking of Jo as a contemporary, a woman verging on modernity before anyone understood how complex identities would become in the turbid century about to unfold.

“Jo to me is similar to girls that you would see in this day and age,” says Ronan. “And Greta felt she needed to be more modern than all the other girls that we see in the film in the way she moves and especially the way she speaks. Finding the way someone speaks, that’s my doorway into who the character is, and what we’ve done with Jo’s voice has a relaxed modernity to it.”

Sneak Previews

Little Women will hold whole-day sneak previews in selected cinemas across the Philippines on Monday & Tuesday, February 10 & 11 (ahead of its grand opening on February 19). The movie-going public is advised to check with their favorite cinemas for the screening hours. Tickets will be available at regular admission prices.

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, Best Supporting Actress (Florence 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.”

Portraying the March sisters Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth, Little Women 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.

In Philippine cinemas February 19, Little Women is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Join the conversation and connect with #LittleWomenMovie