Sources say Watson is playing the part originally intended for Emma Stone, who was unable to join the project because of promotional obligations for the Fox Searchlight film and award season contender “The Favourite.” With production expected to start next month, Sony moved quickly to approach Watson.
Roles are still being worked out and it is unknown which sister Watson would be playing.
Gerwig is writing and directing, with Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, and Florence Pugh in negotiations to star in Sony’s retelling of the American classic.
The project had been set up at Columbia Pictures for some time, with Amy Pascal set to produce with Denise Di Novi and Robin Swicord. Andrea Giannetti will oversee the production for Sony.
The novel by Louisa May Alcott, which follows the March sisters in Civil War-era America, has been adapted multiple times for film and television, including the 1994 Winona Ryder version. The BBC’s “Little Women” miniseries aired late last year.
Watson previously starred as Belle in Disney’s live action “Beauty and the Beast,” which became a massive hit and grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide. Most recently, she appeared opposite Tom Hanks in “The Circle.” She is represented by CAA and Untitled Entertainment.