Maya Hawke: My parents have given me lots of advice

Debut actress Maya Hawke has paid tribute to parents Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke for their support following her first major TV role in Little Women.

Hawke plays bold and awkward feminist Jo March in the latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, due to air on BBC One over Christmas.

The 19-year-old, who has previously told how her parents encouraged her to hold back from the limelight at a young age, told the Press Association: “I have a wonderful, supportive relationship with my family. I get lots of advice from them about all kinds of things.”

She spoke as she reunited with her co-stars in London for a screening of the three-part series.

Describing her first serious acting experience, Hawke said: “It’s really exciting. It was one of the best few months of my life.

“But I definitely feel more pressure now than when I was taking it on.

“I was so in love with the novel and the character that I thought, of course I should play her, and that I could go in and be myself – it felt like whatever I had in me, Jo could handle.

“It was only after when I realised that everybody else thinks they are Jo too, that I felt I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.

“But she is so brave and wilful and that allows her to overcome both her own and societal obstacles – that was a real inspiration to me.”

Uma Thurman (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The hotly anticipated series comes more than 20 years after the hit 1994 big screen adaptation of Little Women starring Winona Ryder as Jo, with Christian Bale as Laurie Laurence, Susan Sarandon as mother Marmee and a young Kirsten Dunst as the youngest March sister Amy.

Jonah Hauer-King, who plays Laurie in the new show, admitted that following in Bale’s footsteps was a “tough act to follow”, but also an “honour”.

Praising his co-star’s debut performance, he said of Hawke: “It’s funny because you would just never know. She was one of the most assured and wise and seemingly experienced there. I learnt so much from her.

“We were quite a gang out there – they were all my sisters for those three months.”

The series, commissioned less than a year ago by the BBC, is directed by Vanessa Caswill, with the adapted script by Call The Midwife writer Heidi Thomas.

“I do really feel like we found our own vision with this version and it steers away from the more saccharine chocolate box version,” said Caswill.

“Even though the 1994 film was incredible and is loved, I think there is a grittier version.

“It’s absolutely the same story, but it’s about finding the truth in the heart of this story and the philosophy. We have captured that and told it honestly.

“It is about loss and grief and hardship and we haven’t skirted over that; we’ve sat in that and it’s a difficult place to sit in.”

Little Women also stars Apple Tree Yard star Emily Watson as Marmee, with Dame Angela Lansbury as Aunt March and Sir Michael Gambon as Mr Laurence.

Emily Watson (Lewis Whyld/PA)

It will air on BBC One on December 26, 27 and 28.


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