Sony's Tom Rothman Reveals His (Very) Personal Connection to 'Little Women'

Tom Rothman - Getty - H 2019
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"I'm married to a Jo," the film chief shares, referring to his wife of 30 years, actress Jessica Harper, who co-starred in a 1979 TV series based on the Louisa May Alcott novel.

Sony film chief Tom Rothman insists he'd have greenlit Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Little Women anyway — "Her pitch was entirely original," he says — but was there was another, more personal incentive to make the film?

"I’m pretty familiar with Little Women. I'm married to a Jo," he confesses, referring to his wife of 30 years, actress Jessica Harper, who co-starred (opposite Brady Bunch alum Eve Plumb) as the headstrong heroine Jo March in a 1979 TV series based on the Louisa May Alcott novel.

That show was a sequel of sorts to a 1978 NBC miniseries in which The Partridge Family's Susan Dey played Jo. When Dey declined to continue in the part for the regular series, Harper stepped in, although not for long; it was canceled after only a month.

Regardless of the personal connection, Rothman still needed a strong reason to make the seventh big-screen adaptation of the 1868 novel. “Greta Gerwig’s pitch was classic and yet entirely original and new,” he says of the film’s writer-director. “It was tremendously exciting. Greta Gerwig is the reason to make the movie.”

As for what Harper makes of Gerwig's update and Saoirse Ronan's turn as Jo? "She thinks it's genius," says Rothman. 

A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.