Mara Wilson thought people liked her Matilda character more than her

If you were a kid in the ’90s, you were probably extremely familiar with Mara Wilson. The brunette child actress gave life to so many notable film characters that we felt a little empty inside when she decided to take a long hiatus from acting. But of course, we’ve always been interested in seeing what she’s doing today — after all, our relationship with her kinda-sorta feels like she was our BFF in elementary school who moved away right before middle school hit. Wilson recently had an interview with NPR, and they asked all of the hard-hitting questions we’ve been curious about for awhile.


Here’s just a few of the things we learned:

She credits the art of eavesdropping as to why she was so natural with casting directors.

“I think I had a good ear for dialogue from a young age — and I think that was probably because I spent a lot of time eavesdropping on my parents and my three older brothers,” she said.

She thinks she should have quit acting right after Matilda.

Wilson’s mother passed away quite early, when Wilson was only eight. “I think that after my mother died, I felt like I had to keep going because film was the only constant in my life,” Wilson noted.  “I was very depressed, I was very anxious, I can barely even remember Matilda coming out. I only have vague memories of the premiere, and it was really hard for me.”


Poor kid. Luckily, she took it easy the next few years, with her last big role in Thomas and the Magic Railroad in 2000.

She had to face puberty on set, which was extremely mortifying.

Speaking of Thomas and the Magic Railroad, that was the film in which Mara began seeing changes in her body. “I was horrified, I felt embarrassed, I felt like I had done something wrong even though I hadn’t,” she said. “They brought out these sports bras that were basically binders — they were meant to bind my chest. I felt completely humiliated. … When you’re in middle school, when you’re a preteen, you always worry: Is everybody talking about me behind my back? And everybody was.”

She thought that people liked her characters way more than they liked her.

It could have been because she, herself, was a huge fan of Matilda. “I wanted to be her so badly,” she said to NPR. “She’s kind of like my big sister overshadowing me.” But, she struggled for some time with her image, to a point where a teacher suggested that she should write a letter to Matilda. Wilson then realized that yes, they were two different people… and yes, she was extremely gifted enough to take on such a role.

While Wilson still pops up on screen every once in awhile, she’s currently known for her writing.

On September 13th, her book Where Am I Now? debuts, and based on the critical acclaim, it’s sure to be a hit. If you’re a fan of Wilson’s work, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy and learn even more about this talented lady.

Filed Under