Little Women on PBS: meet the just-announced cast

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Newcomer Maya Hawke will play protagonist Jo March. Emily Watson, Angela Lansbury, and Michael Gambon have also signed on for the BBC/Masterpiece project.

This should tide over any Masterpiece fans itching for the Downton Abbey movie to just get made already: PBS has announced the cast of its upcoming Little Women adaptation. The miniseries, written by Call the Midwife‘s Heidi Thomas and directed by My Mad Fat Diary‘s Vanessa Caswill, is based on Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 coming-of-age novel. The project is kicking off principal photography this month in Ireland and is expected to bow on Masterpiece sometime in 2018.

Alcott’s classic book revolves around the outspoken, intelligent Jo March and her sisters Meg, Beth, and Amy. The four girls are raised by their mother, Marmee, while their father is off serving in the Civil War. Other notable characters include neighbor Laurie—who has a crush on Jo—his grandfather Mr. Laurence, and Aunt March, the girls’ snobby but dependable relative.

With its complex female characters, historical setting, and (mostly) feel-good story, Little Women is one of those books that has received numerous film and stage adaptations. Its most recent iteration, released in 1994, was directed by Gillian Armstrong and featured an all-star cast (more on that later.)

Here are the stars of the new Little Women.