Mara Elizabeth Wilson (born July 24, 1987) is an American actress and writer. She rose to prominence as a child for playing the role of Natalie Hillard in the film Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), and went on to play Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street (1994), Matilda Wormwood in Matilda (1996), and Lily Stone in Thomas and the Magic Railroad (2000). Wilson retired from acting in 2000 to focus on writing, and later returned to acting in 2012.
Wilson in November 2017
Mara Elizabeth Wilson
July 24, 1987
Burbank, California, U.S.
|Relatives||Ben Shapiro (cousin)|
Wilson was born in Burbank, California, on July 24, 1987, the oldest daughter of KTLA 5 News broadcast engineer Mike Wilson and homemaker and Burbank PTA school volunteer Suzie Wilson (née Shapiro; 1953–1996). Her mother was Jewish, while her father is half Irish. She was raised Jewish and became an atheist when she was 15. She has three older brothers named Danny, Jon, and Joel, and a younger sister named Anna. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 10, 1995, and died on April 26, 1996. The film Matilda was dedicated to her memory. Wilson later recalled that this affected her passion for acting. Wilson attended Idyllwild Arts Academy near Palm Springs, California. After graduation in 2005, Wilson relocated to New York City, where she continued her studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She graduated in 2009. She appeared in her own one-woman show called Weren't You That Girl? while at university.
Wilson became interested in acting after watching her older brother, Danny, appear in television commercials. Initially, Wilson's parents were disinclined, but eventually agreed to allow her to act. After appearing in several commercials for businesses like Lunchables, Bank of America, Texaco, and Marshalls, Wilson was invited to audition for the 1993 comedy film Mrs. Doubtfire. Producers were impressed and awarded her the role of Natalie Hillard. The following year, Wilson appeared in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street. In 1994, she was cast in a recurring role as Nikki Petrova on Melrose Place, and played Barbara Barton in the television film A Time to Heal.
Wilson sang "Make 'Em Laugh" at the 67th Academy Awards broadcast on March 27, 1995, with Tim Curry and Kathy Najimy. In 1995, she won the ShoWest Award for Young Star of the Year. Her film work caught the attention of Danny DeVito, and Wilson was cast as the main protagonist, Matilda Wormwood, in the 1996 film Matilda. Wilson was nominated for three awards for her performance, winning the YoungStar Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film. In 1997, she starred in A Simple Wish alongside Martin Short. Although Wilson was nominated for three awards, the film mostly received negative reviews by critics.
In 1997, Wilson went to a table reading for What Dreams May Come starring Robin Williams, but she did not get the part. A year later, Wilson unsuccessfully auditioned for the 1998 remake of Disney's The Parent Trap; the role was given to Lindsay Lohan after Wilson was deemed too young. In 1999, she portrayed Willow Johnson in the 1999 Disney Channel television film Balloon Farm, based on a fiction book. In 2000, Wilson appeared in the fantasy-adventure family film Thomas and the Magic Railroad, which was her last film as a child actor. Wilson retired from film work shortly afterward. Wilson received a film script for the 2001 film Donnie Darko, but she declined to audition for the film.
In 2012, Wilson appeared briefly in one episode of a web series called Missed Connection in the role of Bitty and made special appearances on internet review shows for That Guy with the Glasses—most notably a comedic turn playing an adult Matilda during a review of Matilda by The Nostalgia Chick, Lindsay Ellis. That year, Wilson explained why she quit film acting; "Film acting is not very fun. Doing the same thing over and over again until, in the director's eyes, you 'get it right', does not allow for very much creative freedom. The best times I had on film sets were the times the director let me express myself, but those were rare." However, Wilson made a return to acting in the 2015 comedy-drama film Billie Bob Joe.
Wilson has a recurring role on the podcast Welcome to Night Vale as "The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home", as well as her own storytelling show called What Are You Afraid Of? In 2016, Wilson made a brief return to television in a Mrs. Doubtfire-inspired episode of Broad City; she played a waitress where the comical Heimlich scene from the movie was reenacted. That same year, she also voiced Jill Pill, a writer/director anthropomorphic spider, in season 3 of BoJack Horseman.
In May 2013, Wilson wrote an article for online magazine Cracked.com, offering her opinion of the delinquency of some former child stars. As of 2013, she worked for Publicolor. Her play Sheeple was produced in 2013 for the New York International Fringe Festival. In an interview that December, Wilson stated that her film acting days are over, and that she is instead focusing on writing. Her book Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame was published on September 13, 2016.
At age 12, Wilson was diagnosed with OCD. She has also been diagnosed with ADHD. In 2015, she collaborated with Project UROK, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to aid teens with mental illness. She appeared in a video to discuss the mental illnesses she has experienced, including anxiety, depression, and OCD. She also discussed her history of mental illness on Paul Gilmartin's podcast The Mental Illness Happy Hour.
I remember thinking to myself when I was young that bisexuality made more sense to me than being straight or being gay. It made more sense to me intrinsically. I thought, "Well, yeah, it makes sense to me that people would be attracted to more than one kind of person." And I remember having that thought, but thinking: "But that's just sort of an abstract thing; that's not a real thought."
And I remember being attracted to girls and having crushes on girls in middle school, and at a really young age, too. I think that when I was like prepubescent, I didn't really realize that they were crushes. In middle school and high school, I would think that they were crushes, but then be like, "No, of course not, it's something else." I would blame it on something else. It took a really long time.
There were also a lot of reasons I didn't identify with it for a really long time. I think [by] the time I was coming of age in the 2000s, there was sort of this idea of: "you're doing it for attention."
On February 23, 2021, in a The New York Times op-ed, Wilson commented on the documentary Framing Britney Spears, and parallels between their lives as child stars. She described being asked to comment on the burgeoning sexuality of 18-year-old Spears, when she was barely 13. She expressed relief at largely escaping oversexualization of her public image compared to Spears. She described her disappointment when a reporter called her a "spoiled brat" when she honestly stated that she wanted the day off on her 13th birthday instead of granting interviews.
Wilson's maternal cousin is political commentator and media host, Ben Shapiro. Wilson has stated in public interviews that she has disavowed her cousin for his political views and the two do not interact. She is a progressive.
|1993||Mrs. Doubtfire||Natalie "Nattie" Hillard|
|1994||Miracle on 34th Street||Susan Walker|
|1994||A Time to Heal||Barbara Barton||TV film|
|1997||A Simple Wish||Anabel Greening|
|1999||Balloon Farm||Willow Johnson||TV film|
|2000||Thomas and the Magic Railroad||Lily Stone|
|1993||Melrose Place||Nicole "Nikki" Petrova||Recurring, 5 episodes|
|1996||Pearl||Samantha Stein||Episode: "The Tutor"|
|1999||Batman Beyond||Tamara (voice)||Episode: "Mind Games"|
|2016||Broad City||Waitress||Episode: "Burning Bridges"|
|2016||BoJack Horseman||Jill Pill (voice)||Recurring, 4 episodes, Season 3|
|2018–19||Big Hero 6: The Series||Liv Amara/Diane "Di" Amara (voice)||Recurring|
|2020||The George Lucas Talk Show||Herself||May the AR Be LI$$ You Arli$$ marathon fundraiser;
The George Lucas Holiday Special
|2012||Nostalgia Critic||Herself||Episode: "A Simple Wish"|
|2012||Nostalgia Chick||Herself||Episode: "Matilda", also writer|
|2012||Demo Reel||Donnie DuPre's wife (voice)||Episode: "Lost in Translation (Bromance Version)"|
|2012||Shut Up and Talk||Herself||Episode: "Guest: Mara Wilson"|
|2012||Missed Connection||Bitty||Episode: "Bad Dates"|
|2013||Welcome to Night Vale||Faceless Old Woman (voice)||10 episodes|
|2014||Keith and The Girl||Herself||Episode: "2002: Boobs"|
|2014||Nostalgia Chick||Herself||Episode: "Nostalgic Foods of Yore"|
|2014||Amy Poehler's Smart Girls||Herself||Episode: "The In Too Steep Tea Party"|
|2014||Maven of the Eventide||Herself||Pumpktoberfest Vlogs, Episodes 5 & 12|
|2014||I Don't Even Own a Television||Herself||Episode: "016 — Covert Conception (w/ Mara Wilson)"|
|2015||Keith and The Girl||Herself||Episode: "2147: Gang Dick"|
|2015||Gilmore Guys||Herself||Episode 4.21|
|2015||That's the Show with Danny||Herself||Episode: "117: The One with Mara Wilson"|
|2015, 2017||I Don't Even Own a Television||Herself||Episodes: "026: Treacherous Love (w/ Mara Wilson)", "081: I'm With the Band (w/ Mara Wilson)"|
|2016||Mouth Time with Reductress||Ruth Hrorgen||Mouth Time LIVE! With Mara Wilson|
|2019||Passenger List||N/A||Writer of "Cyberspace" (episode 5)|
|2020||Helluva Boss||Mrs. Mayberry||Episode: "Murder Family"|
- Cinderella (2005)
- Weren't You That Girl? (2009)
- What Are You Afraid Of? (2014)
- Sheeple (2013)
- Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame (2016)
Awards and nominations
|1995||ShoWest Award||Young Star of the Year||N/A||Won|
|1996||YoungStar Award||Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film||Matilda||Won|
|Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a Feature Film — Leading Young Actress||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Performance by a Younger Actor||Nominated|
|1997||YoungStar Award||Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film||A Simple Wish||Nominated|
|Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a Feature Film — Leading Young Actress||Won|
|Saturn Awards||Best Performance by a Younger Actor||Nominated|
|2000||YoungStar Award||Best Young Actress in a Comedy Film||Thomas and the Magic Railroad||Nominated|
|Young Artist Award||Best Performance in a Feature Film — Leading Young Actress||Nominated|
- Maxwell Yezpitelok (April 2, 2020). "Celebs With (Surprising) Famous Relatives". cracked.com. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
- Kaufman, Amy (September 15, 2016). "Actress Mara Wilson has a memoir. She's not Matilda anymore". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
- "SUZIE WILSON, BURBANK SCHOOLS, PTA VOLUNTEER".
- @MaraWritesStuff (May 27, 2012). "I'm half Jewish and a quarter Irish. I BURN. RT @Pixiebybirth Do you burn, tan or none of ze above?" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- @MaraWritesStuff (February 2, 2012). "@rare_basement He is short, half-Jewish, dark-haired, acted in an adaptation of a British kids' book and has a nickel allergy. HE IS ME" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Mara Wilson Interview Pt. 2 — Running Late with Scott Rogowsky on YouTube
- "She's His G–damn Kid Too: Mara Wilson On 'Mrs. Doubtfire' 20th Anniversary". MTV News.
- Zachary Stewart (August 7, 2013). "Atheism, 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, and Sheeple with Mara Wilson and Max Reuben". TheaterMania.com.
- Malham Jr., Howell (July 26, 1994). "To Her, It's Kids' Stuff : Movies: Mara Wilson, 7, is earning praise from her co-stars in the upcoming 'Miracle on 34th Street,' but acting is just something she says she likes--for now". Los Angeles Times.
- Cerio, Gregory (April 29, 1996). "Lessons in Courage". People. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- "Mara Wilson - Matilda Star: 'Danny Devito And Perlman Helped Me When Mum Lost Cancer Battle'". WENN. June 4, 2013.
- "Why Hollywood didn't want the child star of Matilda, Mara Wilson". NewsComAu.
- Ghert-Zand, Renee (April 18, 2012). "Mara Wilson Hated Being a Movie Star". The Forward.
- "Mara Wilson On Child Stardom, Morons Wanting to "Party With Matilda"". NYU Local.
- Wilson, Mara (April 22, 2013). "Being Matilda". Theater Mania. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Orange County (Calif.) Register (July 27, 1997). "Mara Wilson's Role Is A Wish Come True". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on June 23, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Archerd, Army (March 14, 1995). "Oscars plan to 'Make 'em Laugh'". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Turan, Kenneth (July 11, 1997). "Short Works Magic in Uneven A Simple Wish". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Messer, Lesley (August 18, 2014). "Mara Wilson Recalls Robin Williams 'Was Different With Grown-Ups'". ABC News. American Broadcasting Company. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Setoodeh, Ramin (November 7, 2017). "'Matilda' Star Mara Wilson Reviews 'Matilda the Musical'". The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast Company LLC. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Heffley, Lynne (March 27, 1999). "Rip Torn, Mara Wilson Help Keep Disney's 'Balloon Farm' Aloft". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- "Mara Wilson Interview". contactmusic.com. January 7, 2009. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Eakin, Marah (April 11, 2014). "Mara Wilson on the sickness-induced reason she hates Gary Jules' "Mad World"". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Johnson, Zach (April 17, 2012). "Child Star Mara Wilson: Why I Quit Film Acting". Us Weekly. American Media Inc. Archived from the original on August 28, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Deliso, Meredith (January 15, 2014). "Mara Wilson's 'What are you afraid of?' at Union Hall". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
- Oliveira, Adele (November 26, 2014). "Interview: Former 'Matilda' Star Mara Wilson on Leaving Hollywood and Becoming a Writer". Longreads Blog. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Fisher, Kendall (April 8, 2016). "How Broad City Convinced Mara Wilson to Get Back Into Acting". E!. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Mizoguchi, Karen (April 8, 2016). "Mara Wilson on Her Return to Acting for Broad City's Homage to Mrs. Doubtfire: 'This Movie Did a Lot for Me'". People. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
- Chappell, Les (July 22, 2016). "BoJack Horseman rides into season three atop the Secretariat Oscar campaign". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Wilson, Mara (May 28, 2013). "7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective)". Cracked.com. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- Health, Paul (March 9, 2013). "Where Are They Now? #1: Mara Wilson". thehollywoodnews.com. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- "Sheeple". NYC Arts. Alliance for the Arts. August 10, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- Neumyer, Scott (December 2, 2013). "Mara Wilson Talks Matilda, the Loss of Her Mother, and Quitting Acting". Parade. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Finn, Natalie (February 11, 2015). "Matilda Reunion! Mara Wilson and Kiami Davael Are Still Friends and Hanging Out 19 Years Later—See the Photo!". E! News. E!. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Chavez, Danette (December 9, 2016). "Mara Wilson shines like a beacon in the witty and touching Where Am I Now?". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Linic, Claire (November 14, 2014). "What is Mara Wilson afraid of?". The Daily Dot. New York City: Complex Media, Inc. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Wilson, Mara (May 19, 2015). "Kill Me Now with Judy Gold - Episode 3". Omny Studio (Interview). Interviewed by Judy Gold. Archived from the original on April 16, 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
- Holmes, Lindsay (October 9, 2015). "Mara Wilson On Dealing With Mental Illness In The Public Eye". HuffPost. New York City. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Pittman, Taylor (May 5, 2015). "Mara Wilson's Important Message For Teens Living With Mental Illness". HuffPost. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Gilmartin, Paul (September 16, 2016). "Mara Wilson". The Mental Illness Happy Hour. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- Nelson, Jeff (August 24, 2016). "Mara Wilson: Why Mrs. Doubtfire Star Quit Hollywood over Scrutiny of Her Looks". People. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
- Goldberg, Ariel (September 20, 2017). "'Matilda' is Bi and So Am I: an Interview with Mara Wilson". Medium. San Francisco, California: A Medium Corporation.
- Roberson, Jennie (December 28, 2019). "A Conversation With Mara Wilson - Part One". Bi.org.
- Prescott, Julia; Goertz, Allie (August 8, 2017). "Allie Goertz and Julia Prescott interview comics, writers, animators and show creators about their favorite episode of "The Simpsons."". Feral Audio. Archived from the original on August 8, 2017.
Mara Wilson (November 14, 2017). "Matilda Actress Mara Wilson: A 13-Year-Old Girl Is Not 'All Grown Up'". Elle magazine. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
As soon as I’d hit puberty, it had become okay for strangers to discuss my body. Every time I stumbled across an article about myself, every fear I had about my pubescent body was confirmed: I was 'ugly,' which as a woman, made me useless, or I was 'cute,' which made me an object. I was 'grown up,' which made me vulnerable. Because I was a child actor, my body was public domain.
Zoë Weiner (November 16, 2017). "Mara Wilson Defends "Stranger Things" Star Millie Bobby Brown In a Powerful Essay". Teen Vogue. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
Last week, a grown man tweeted a photo of Millie dressed up for a premiere noting that the actress 'just grew up in front of our eyes,' and Mara says that it made her feel 'sick' and 'furious.'
Mara Wilson (February 23, 2021). "The Lies Hollywood Tells About Little Girls". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
I learned I would be talking to reporters all day. Working on my birthday wasn’t new to me — I had celebrated my eighth birthday on the set of “Matilda” and my ninth filming 'A Simple Wish' — but this was still disappointing.
- McNamara, Neal (January 24, 2014). "Justin Bieber a symptom of a big problem". KTTH. Archived from the original on July 3, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
- "Ep. 411 - Another Day, Another Mass Shooting (at 44.22 minutes in)". Retrieved April 20, 2018.
- Klion, David (August 28, 2020). "Q&A with Mara Wilson". Jewish Currents. Retrieved December 15, 2020.
- "A Simple Wish". Thatguywiththeglasses.com. May 1, 2012. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
- "Matilda". Thatguywiththeglasses.com. October 11, 2012. Archived from the original on August 16, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
- "Missed Connection: "Bad Dates"". Comediva. January 30, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
- "Boobs (Keith and The Girl) – Comedy Talk Show & Podcast". Keith and The Girl. June 25, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
- "016 -- Covert Conception (w/ Mara Wilson)". i don't even own a television. August 8, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
- "Gang Dick (Keith and The Girl)". Keith and The Girl. March 16, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- "The One with Mara Wilson (That's the Show with Danny)". That's the Show with Danny. March 19, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- "026 — Treacherous Love (w/ Mara Wilson)". i don't even own a television. February 25, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- "081 — I'm with the Band (w/ Mara Wilson)". i don't even own a television. May 14, 2017. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
- "Episode: "Mouth Time LIVE! With Mara Wilson"". Mouth Time with Reductress. June 1, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
- Wilson, Mara [@MaraWilson] (October 31, 2020). "What a lovely teacher!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on November 1, 2020. Retrieved November 1, 2020 – via Twitter.
- Joshua L. Weinstein. "Unconventional kudos nab stars". Variety.