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Mara Wilson | Mara Wilson and Embeth Davidtz in "Matilda" | Source: Getty Images
Mara Wilson | Mara Wilson and Embeth Davidtz in "Matilda" | Source: Getty Images

'Matilda' Star Lived 'Basically Alone' at 9, Mourning Mom's Death — At 36 She's Grown up & Looks 'Incredible'

Junie Sihlangu
Oct 18, 2023
08:54 A.M.
  • "Matilda" and "Mrs. Doubtfire" star Mara Wilson is all grown-up and looks "incredible" at 36!
  • The actress opened up about her costar Danny DeVito's meaningful gift to her following her mom's tragic, untimely death and the challenges she faced as a child star.
  • Mara revealed why she left acting and opened up about her life now and her sexuality.
  • The star is now in her 30s, a cat mom, and DeVito revealed they are working together on a special project.
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Mara Wilson got her start in Hollywood early. Her first film appearance was in the 1993 film, "Mrs. Doubtfire." She went on to star in many more famous titles like "Matilda" and "A Simple Wish."

Now, Wilson is in her mid-30s and has grown into a beautiful young woman. She has shared her thoughts on why she stepped back from acting and opened up about her sexuality with the world.

Wilson found fame at only nine when she starred in "Matilda." While it was an exciting time professionally, Wilson faced turmoil at home as her mother, Suzie, was dying of breast cancer. The star never thought her mother would die and admits that as she's aged, the parent became more mythical in her mind.

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The former actress described that her life had two parts: who she was before she became famous, her mother passed away, and who she was after. Her mother's death left her "completely lost, completely unmoored."

Wilson, who learned of her mother's illness in 1995, recalled feeling good about being able to focus on her role in "Matilda" rather than having to face everything that was going on at home.

Mara Wilson at the 63rd Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on November 27, 1994 | Source: Getty Images

Mara Wilson at the 63rd Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on November 27, 1994 | Source: Getty Images

Danny DeVito and his wife, Rhea Perlman, tried to ensure that Wilson had the best experience possible on set and even offered to take her home with them when her parents had to go to the hospital for Suzie.

Wilson's mother passed away in April 1996, just a few months before "Matilda" premiered worldwide. However, before she died, she saw a rough cut of the movie as DeVito took her a copy to watch in the hospital.

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Rhea Durham, Danny DeVito, and Mara Wilson in "Matilda" in 1996 | Source: Getty Images

Rhea Durham, Danny DeVito, and Mara Wilson in "Matilda" in 1996 | Source: Getty Images

The former actress only learned of this later in life and said it meant a lot to her. Along with this incredible gift, Suzie was honored in the film's credits. Talking about the tribute to her mother in her movie, Wilson admitted:

"I felt so glad when I saw that in the credits, and I still feel happy when I see that now. I'm so glad they did that."

Danny DeVito circa 1996 | Source: Getty Images

Danny DeVito circa 1996 | Source: Getty Images

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Although she went through a tragic time while filming "Matilda," Wilson has fond memories of being on the set and recalled a familial atmosphere between her and her costars. In fact, she was anxious when filming wrapped and had to return to her everyday life.

Wilson confessed to wishing she had stopped acting after "Matilda" because she felt that was her peak. However, she did not because she thought that working was the only constant in her life after her mother passed away.

The former actress said she was so depressed and anxious after Suzie's death that she doesn't even have clear memories of the film premiering, only vague memories of the event. Here's a look into Wilson's childhood.

What Was Mara's Life Like As A Child?

Wilson revealed that she does not believe one can be a child actor without having some lasting damage. However, for the most part, she felt protected on the sets and said her mother was the driving force in that protection while she was alive.

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Mara Wilson attends the 67th Academy Awards March 27, 1995, in Los Angeles | Source: Getty Images

Mara Wilson attends the 67th Academy Awards March 27, 1995, in Los Angeles | Source: Getty Images

The celebrity's mother ensured to always speak up for her daughter if they ever felt uncomfortable with something. Suzie and the star's father, Michael, thought she would be safe if she worked on children's movies.

However, Wilson admits that the world still sexualized her. She even had adult men trying to contact her. Talking about being harassed online and in person, the former actress shared:

"I made the mistake of Googling myself when I was 12 and saw things that I couldn't unsee."

Mara Wilson at the M&M's Candies Hollywood for Children Family Film Festival on April 8, 1996 | Source: Getty Images

Mara Wilson at the M&M's Candies Hollywood for Children Family Film Festival on April 8, 1996 | Source: Getty Images

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Her photo had been used on inappropriate websites, where her head had been superimposed onto other women's bodies. Wilson also recalled the toll taken on her talking to the press as a child, like when she was asked which actor she was most attracted to and if she knew what French kissing was.

She also felt pressured to be who her fans expected her to be in public and not who she was. Wilson felt she had disappointed her fans because she wasn't as intelligent, pretty, or friendly as they had expected her to be. She thought she could never live up to her "Matilda" character.

Suzie's daughter also felt that people misconceive child stars as brats but clarified that she was not that way. All her life in Hollywood, she did as she was told and obeyed when instructed to avoid upsetting anyone.

Mara Wilson and her sister, Ana, at the "Matilda" premiere in 1996 | Source: Getty Images

Mara Wilson and her sister, Ana, at the "Matilda" premiere in 1996 | Source: Getty Images

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In 2021, Wilson spoke to BBC Radio 4’s podcast, "Pieces of Britney," where she confessed to having "long days" where she spent time away from her family. Sometimes she was away from them for months, adding:

"Right after my mother had died, I was living in other countries basically by myself."

She also recalled being humiliated on the "Thomas and the Magic Railroad" set when the director pulled her aside to talk to her about her changing body. At the time, she was going through puberty in front of an entire set of people.

Mara Wilson and Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Season Three in 1995 | Source: Getty Images

Mara Wilson and Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Season Three in 1995 | Source: Getty Images

Wilson felt she had done something wrong and said her preteen worst nightmare of having people talk behind her back had been realized when others had agreed she should wear binding bras. The star has since lived a more quiet life.

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What Does Mara Look Like Now and What’s Going On in Her Life?

At age 35, Wilson shared a photo of herself on Instagram. She was attending ComicCon and encouraged her fans to come and greet her. Fans thought she looked "incredible" in the photo.

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User comment in 2023 | Source: Instagram.com/marawilson

User comment in 2023 | Source: Instagram.com/marawilson

While she attends events like ComicCon, she has turned her back on acting. Wilson said there was no defining moment when she knew her acting career was over. Instead, she self-sabotaged through acting school.

User comment in 2023 | Source: Instagram.com/marawilson

User comment in 2023 | Source: Instagram.com/marawilson

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She slept through her classes, was afraid to make mistakes, and let her classmates see her as an actor. Instead, she turned her attention to writing. The star wrote dialogues and began doing performance pieces and became a one-woman show.

User comment in 2023 | Source: Instagram.com/marawilson

User comment in 2023 | Source: Instagram.com/marawilson

In 2016, Wilson shared that she had been upset by her fans' reactions to her coming out as bisexual. She recalled being upset that an impulsive decision of hers had ended up trending on Facebook.

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Now, she feels good about her life because she is more in control than ever when she was a child actor. Wilson can now make up and tell stories how she wants to in her voice. In August 2023, the star revealed that she is a cat mom.

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Sharing several short videos on Instagram, she noted how annoying and adorable it was that her cat, who featured in the clips, ruined her cameos by popping in. The last video in the carousel showed Wilson holding up the feline in full view and hilariously asking it if it just wanted to be on camera.

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In October 2023, DeVito revealed some thrilling news saying he and Wilson planned to reunite by appearing in "Matilda in Concert," 25 years after the original film aired. The actor said the live performance would include the New Jersey Philharmonic Orchestra.

However, things were halted because of the current SAG strike, and they didn't want it to be seen as if they were promoting the original movie. Despite this, DeVito said the performance will still happen as soon as the strike is over.

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