‘Masterpiece: Little Women’ Star Maya Hawke Talks Playing the Iconic Jo March

Little Women MASTERPIECE on PBS Sundays, May 13 and May 20, 2018 at the special time of 8pm Part One Sunday, May 13, 2018 at the special time of 8pm ET With their father away at war, the March sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy come to terms with their new life alongside their mother, Marmee. The girls also make friends with Laurie, the new boy next door. Shown from left to right: Willa Fitzgerald as Meg, Annes Elwy as Beth and Maya Hawke as Jo For editorial use only. Courtesy of MASTERPIECE on PBS, BBC and Playground

Few characters have loomed as large as the heroines in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War–era saga. With Masterpiece unveiling the latest adaptation, we ask Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s daughter Maya Hawke, 19, about the tall order of playing outspoken Jo March.

This is quite a protagonist for your screen debut!

I was first approached about the role of [Jo’s sister] Meg, and I asked if I could try for Jo—I’ve wanted to play her since I was a kid. I spent hours with my mom trying to come up with the right audition tape. I’ve tried to bring my own clumsiness to the character. I want her to be as awkward and impatient and hungry as I am!

What sets this interpretation apart?

There’s a real textural quality. They’ve done a wonderful job of capturing the fabric, the skin. In the opening scene, you see the sisters’ feet touching. There’s something amazing about juxtaposing the formality of that period with the intimate home life.

The part when Beth (Elwy) dies is always brutal. Ever wish you could skip it?

Totally! Can’t this be the version where Jo and Laurie [Jonah Hauer-King] end up together and Beth doesn’t die? But unfortunately, or fortunately, we’ve stayed very loyal to the text.

Masterpiece: Little Women, Miniseries Premiere, Sunday, May 13, 8/7c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)