Eliza Scanlen Is About to Be Little Women‘s Secret Weapon

Newcomer Eliza Scanlen is the rookie in the powerful cast of Little Women.

Photograph by Jeff Henrikson; Styled by Jasmine Hassett. Hair by Mara Roszak at SWA; Makeup by Sophie Haig; Production coordinator: Kennedy Cantrell; Photography assistants: Austin Perrotta, Wray Sinclair; Fashion assistant: Claire Wickser.

To hear Eliza Scanlen tell it, there’s never been a more fortuitous time to be a Hollywood starlet. “I couldn’t have entered the industry at a better moment,” says the 20-year-old actress, who made a name for herself—and thoroughly creeped out viewers—as Amma Crellin, Amy Adams’s tortured, psychopathic half-sister in HBO’s 2018 miniseries Sharp Objects. “I feel very protected and lucky to be a part of this new wave of acknowledgment and consent and inclusion. It makes me sad that even 10 years ago women didn’t get to feel this way.” Happily for Scanlen, she was still half a world away during the events that led to the #MeToo movement, starring in primary-school plays in her native Sydney, where she fell in love with acting “the very first time I ran onto the stage.” She won the role of Amma while still in high school. And even before that series hit the airwaves she was cast as Beth, the placid, piano-playing March sister, in Greta Gerwig’s hotly anticipated adaptation of Little Women, which is set to debut on Christmas Day. “I burst into tears when Greta told me I got the part,” Scanlen says. Her costars comprise a veritable master class of leading ladies, among them Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, and Laura Dern. “I really look up to Greta, and it was such a fantastic experience working with so many incredible women.” As ­amazing as it was, however, the silver screen still can’t compare to her first love. “I’m so obsessed with theater at the moment,” says Scanlen, who just wrapped a Sydney Theatre Company ­production of Lord of the Flies. “The adrenaline you get when interacting with an audience is unlike anything I’ve experienced.”