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Saoirse Ronan as Jo March in Little Women

Many actresses have given incredible performances as Josephine March, the protagonist of Little Women. But now that Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the beloved classic has hit theaters, the consensus seems to be that Saoirse Ronan was simply born to play the role. And it turns out that the actress knew she was meant to play Jo March -- and she found the perfect way to prove it.

Greta Gerwig has proven herself on the indie circuit, but Little Women was her first major studio film. She recently told Variety that she was “hell bent” on making Little Women, even though she felt a lot of pressure to get it right. And even though she admits to feeling terrified, she said both she and Saoirse Ronan were able to channel their inner Jo March in their quest to get the film made.

It’s funny because I have never quite gone after something like that. I felt the confidence I had was, in some ways, the confidence of the character Jo and Louisa May Alcott as Jo. Then similarly when Saoirse [Ronan] heard I was thinking about making the movie, she just told me she was going to be Jo. It wasn’t like, ‘I’d like to play Jo.’ It was, ‘I’ll be playing Jo.’

Greta Gerwig previously directed Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird -- and she remembers the actress being overwhelmed by the responsibility of carrying that film. But both she and Saoirse Ronan have made it clear that when it came to Jo March, she knew was ready for the challenge. In an interview with Variety, she discussed feeling confident in her ability to bring the beloved Little Women character to life:

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I was ready to jump out of line and take it on. Jo is such an important figure for so many girls, and I didn’t feel daunted by it. I was precious with her.

The actress has also spoken about why she was so keen to play Jo March in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation. In a conversation with NPR, Saoirse Ronan said:

What I love about Little Women and what I love about all the girls is that, especially with Amy and Meg, they take control of their destiny and in a different way. ... I think Jo is obviously a very relatable woman to people now: There's a lot of girls out there that are very similar to Jo March.

If Little Women’s performance at the box office is anything to go on, Saoirse Ronan is definitely right about that. The film shattered expectations for its opening weekend, and has a lot of word of mouth momentum behind it. Plus, the film is a huge hit with critics, who are raving about Saoirse Ronan’s performance as Jo March.

Keep up with everything that is still playing or premiering soon on the big screen with our 2020 movie release date schedule.