Little Women star Emily Watson: It’s great to be in a show that’s all women
The actress said being part of the female-led production was a “humbling” experience.
Actress Emily Watson has praised the latest TV series of Little Women as a positive antidote to the flood of reports of sexual harassment in the acting industry.
Watson, who plays virtuous family matriarch Marmee in Vanessa Caswill’s adaptation of the 19th-century Louisa May Alcott novel, described being part of the female-led production as both a “great” and “humbling” experience.
Her comments came during a screening for the three-part series – airing on BBC One over Christmas – in central London on Monday.
Speaking of her work on the show, she told the Press Association: “It was a fantastically bonded group of young women and it’s great to be in a show that’s all women – it’s a really lovely feeling, especially at this time.
“With all the stuff about sexual harassment and the world trying to change all that for women in our business it does feel that something really female-driven is great.
“Whenever you come to (this story) you can find relevance and what I love about it is that they are a family who live a very considered life.
“They are very thoughtful people and they are raising their children to be good humans. In terms of aspiration that is a great thing to want to be.”
Watson stars alongside Dame Angela Lansbury as Aunt March and Sir Michael Gambon as Mr Laurence, with the famous March sisters played by Annes Elwy (Beth), Kathryn Newton (Amy), Willa Fitzgerald (Meg) and Maya Hawke (Jo).
Watson, 50, admitted that her role as the March mother sometimes extended behind the cameras as she worked with the younger and less experienced cast members.
“I was asked for advice and I felt protective of them,” she said.
“I re-read the book and was astonished by what a great parent Marmee was. I have actually had parenting situations when I have thought, ‘What would Marmee do’ – she has such a strength and patience.
“(Filming with the on-screen daughters) was quite humbling because they are all amazing and have such energy and commitment – it was wonderful.”
Paying tribute to scriptwriter Heidi Thomas, Caswill and producer Susie Liggat, executive producer Sophie Gardiner told how the novel’s lasting legacy naturally required both a female cast and female-led behind-the-scenes crew.
She explained: “This is such an important book to so many women.
“When you are casting the whole team you need people who really connect with the women and so the people who knew what it was really about were women.”
Asked if the balance of genders on set meant teasing the boys, Hawke insisted that “equality” was a priority, before jokingly confessing that she picked “horribly” on her co-star Jonah Hauer-King (Laurie Laurence).
:: Little Women will air on BBC One on December 26, 27 and 28.