How Mrs. Doubtfire Changed Mara Wilson’s Life

For many reasons, Mrs. Doubtfire was a transformative film. Robin Williams solidified himself as the new family-friendly star, it helped normalize divorces on screen, and it launched the career of Mara Wilson. After her breakout role as Natalie, she went on to star in Miracle of 34th Street and Matilda.

The roles made her into of the most recognizable child actors of the nineties. But, child stars don’t always turn out as well as Wilson did.

She regularly contributes to national publications, and in 2016, she dropped some knowledge in the form of a memoir.

She Became Interested In Acting After Watching Her Older Brothe


Danny Wilson is Mara’s older brother. Her first inspiration for acting came from him, but her parents were reluctant to let her act. Eventually, they would let their guard down and agreed to let her pursue acting.

After appearing in many commercials for Lunchables, Bank of America, and Marshall’s, a big door opened for the actress.

Mrs. Doubtfire Was Her First Movie Audition

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She told Entertainment Weekly: “I remember it was Valentine’s Day and I came home and my mom was on the phone saying, ‘I’m not sure, I don’t know if that’s a good idea.'”

Wilson’s mother told her that she had been called in to audition for a movie. At five years old, she admits that she didn’t understand the ramifications of going out for a feature film.

Her Mom Knew That It Would Be A Highly Competitive Process

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It’s fair to say that her mother didn’t think it would go very far. But then she got a callback. And another callback. And another, until she was sent up to San Francisco for a final screen test.

Wilson did scenes with Williams, then with Matthew Lawrence and Lisa Jakub for a family chemistry test.

Being around those movie sets had a whole different meaning when she looks back on it now.

She Took An Immediate Liking To Her Co-stars

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“I remember I met this boy named Matt and this girl named Lisa and I immediately liked them,” says Wilson. “They felt like they could be my real brother and sister and I was secretly wishing and hoping that they would get the parts, too.”

The entire group was cast to play the children of Robin Williams and Sally Field.

The Movie’s Biggest Accomplishment Proved To Be Amazing

Audiences felt charmed by the voices Williams provided, but it was the silly-sweet moments that can only be found in a nineties-era movie that really hit home. In today’s current nostalgia world, fans are all too happy to put Mrs. Doubtfire at the top of their watch lists.

For Wilson, that nostalgia could only mean one thing.

The Nostalgia From Her Movies Held An Entire Different Meaning

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Well, it’s only because the actress grew up on movie sets. She went from filming Mrs. Doubtfire to booking Miracle on 34th Street. After production wrapped up, Wilson transitioned into filming for Matilda.

But many years later, there are certain scenes that stick with her far more than others.

You’ll never guess which actress offered Wilson the guidance she needed to nail one particular scene.

Bittersweet Memories Include The Small Moments With Robin Williams

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Williams went the extra mile to make sure his co-star enjoyed herself on set. For example, in between takes of the dinner table scene, he went off on a freestyle rap about the life of an ant — and no, not your Aunt Debbie.

“He used chopsticks as antennae and at the end of the scene he used them again to get me to smile.”

Wilson Came Into The Industry Before Social Media

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It’s safe to say that while Wilson avoided the Twitter and Instagram stalking that occurs today, it’s nearly impossible to come out fully unscathed from a childhood movie career. In fact, the actress credits her co-stars for helping her deal with that.

Lisa Jakub, who played her older sister, texts all the time, and both reminisce about happy memories.

She Got Excellent Coaching From Her Movie Mom Sally Field

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At one point in the movie, Wilson’s character gets angry about her parents’ divorce. While she had to use strong language for a five-year-old, Field took her to the side. The actress then offered her the guidance she needed to nail the scene.

“She was making sure I would say it more fiercely and more intensely, and then her saying, ‘Good, you scared me this time.'”

Wilson auditioned for one of the movies that ultimately went to Lindsay Lohan.

The Scene Became One Of The Film’s Most Famous

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Wilson’s efforts in the scene proved to be a benefit. Wilson perfectly depicted the complicated feelings that kids face when their parents are going through a divorce.

By showing that a family can still be one even if the parents are no longer together, Mrs. Doubtfire did something special for kids going through that adjustment.

Wilson Sang Make Em Laugh At The 67th Academy Awards

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Alongside Tim Curry and Kathy Najimy, she performed the 1952 song from Singin’ in the Rain. In 1995, she won the ShoWest Award for “Young Star of the Year.”

Her performances, including the Oscars, caught the attention of Danny DeVito, which led her to being cast as the title character for Matilda.

Wilson Auditioned For A Role In The Parent Trap

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In 1998, Wilson auditioned for the remake of the 1961 film The Parent Trap. However, she lost the role to none other than Lindsey Lohan.

The only reason why Wilson was not hired for the role of Hallie Parker and Annie James is because she was deemed to young for the role.

She’s Now Facing New Challenges

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Wilson is still recognized for her role. She’s also still hearing stories about how the film changed people’s lives. She was able to accomplish something that no five-year-old expected to do.

She left an amazing impact on people, especially for those who were going through a difficult time in their life.

Despite all her success, Wilson decided to quit acting for good.

Puberty Was A Nightmare For Her

Puberty is the most uncomfortable time for any teen, just ask Wilson. She spoke with NPR on just how horrifying it was to be reminded of her body’s changes while working on the film Thomas and the Magic Railroad.

Even worse, her director had to sit with her and explain that her body was changing.

She Quit Acting After Her Mother Died

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In 1996, Wilson’s career was slowing down, but she didn’t officially pack it in until 2000. She said this during her interview with Parade:

“I just wanted to be a normal kid, especially after my mother died. I think if I could do it over again—as much as I loved meeting the people I did on the films after Matilda—I wish that I had stopped after Matilda.”

Read ahead to see how the actress introduced readers to Mara Wilson, for real.

Quitting Meant She Turned Down A Role In Donnie Darko

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Wilson told The AV Club what it was like to read the script while suffering from sleep deprivation and nausea.

“It was just the most terrifying thing. I didn’t know what was real anymore and then all of the sudden there was this goddamned 6-foot metal rabbit there was all this crazy stuff and I thought it was the scariest thing I’d ever read.”

Wilson Works With A Mental Health Organization To Raise Awareness


Wilson began speaking publicly about her mental health issues, which are rooted in her OCD. In 2015, she partnered with Project UROK, a nonprofit mental health organization.

Wilson even recorded a video for Project UROK, where she discusses her experience with OCD and offers advice for those who are dealing with it.

She Wrote A Critically Acclaimed Memoir To Reclaim The Public Narrative Of Her Life


Where Am I Now?: True Stories Of Girlhood and Accidental Fame introduced readers to Mara Wilson, for real. She didn’t hesitate to tackle the realities of child stardom and her mutual breakup with Hollywood.

Wilson wrote the book in order to reclaim the public narrative of her life, especially for those who become the butt of cruel jokes.

Her return to acting came in 2013, but it wasn’t in a TV show or a movie.

Wilson Started Blogging In 2011 And Has Been Published On Sites

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In December 2011, the Matilda actress started “Mara Wilson Writes Stuff.” It marked the official start of her writing career, which has evolved into more. Some of her pieces have been published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies and Cracked.

Wilson has always wanted to become a writer, and her passion for it is quite charming.

In 2012, Wilson Appeared Briefly On A Web Series

Missed Connection was the web series where Wilson played the role of Bitty. She made special appearances on internet review shows for That Guy with Glasses.

Most notably, she had a comedic turn playing an adult Matilda during a review of the movie by The Nostalgia Chick, Lindsay Ellis.

Her Return To Acting Happened In 2013, But Not In A TV Show Or Movie

July 2013 would be when Wilson originated the recurring role of Faceless Old Woman on the Welcome to Nightvale podcast. Outside of the podcast appearance, this was her first acting role since saying goodbye to Hollywood in 2000.

Among other things, her character runs for mayor and lives secretly in people’s homes.

Following a horrific shooting in Orlando, Wilson came out in the open to discuss it the next day on Twitter.

In 2016, Wilson Finally Makes It Onto The Small Screen

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It’s safe to say that 2016 was a disastrous year for us all. But, this was more of Mara Wilson’s year because she landed a role as a waitress in an episode of Broad City.

She got the role by telling Abbi Jacobson, who she knows through Twitter, that she was “down to make an appearance.”

She Wrote A Public Letter To Her Younger Self In 2014

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“Answers For My Younger Self” provides 81 itemized pieces of information about her younger self. They range from affirmations of herself to jokes like “Yes, you’ll swear a lot” (number 66).

The letter even includes some revelations concerning the child star’s struggles over the years with fame, her OCD, and conceptions of the self.

Following The Shootings At Pulse In Orlando, Wilson Sent A Message Via Twitter

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Following the horrific massacre at the club Pulse in Orlando, Wilson took to Twitter with a message. She opened with love for her LGBT fans and she was open about her own sexuality.

She declared herself to be bisexual, and in her own words, she’s “a two” on the Kinsey scale.

Did Wilson ever appear on stage during college? Read ahead to see for yourself.

She’s Quite Comical On Her Social Media Pages


For someone who didn’t grow up with social media, Wilson knows how to use it. If you haven’t already, give her a follow on her Twitter account because she’s posting a lot each day.

It’s very witty and informative, especially with over 420,000 Twitter followers which is growing to this day.

She Pursued A BFA In Acting At NYU

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Considering Wilson starred in notable roles, it makes her life difficult to keep a low profile. When she attended NYU to secure a BFA in acting, groups of freshmen knocked on her dorm door to ask if she was Mara.

Despite the bizarre interruptions and occasionally awkward social situations, Wilson graduated in 2009.

She Staged A One-Woman Show While In College

She wrote and performed a one-woman show while attending NYU. Weren’t You That Girl? addressed the child star’s past and her present as a student struggling with constant recognition and expectations from her peers.

She started writing a lot more in college, but when she wrote autobiographical stories, she realized she did have an interesting life.

Everything Wilson knows about sex came from one particular TV show she didn’t know much about.

Her Play ‘Sheeple,’ Debuted At The New York Fringe Fest In 2013


Sheeple is about the teenage burden of having to know everything. It’s a summer day during Bush’s reign, and Nick is determined to save the world, score some pot, make Soo-Min his girlfriend, and have his LaVeyan Satanist brother talk his best friend Alberto out of enlisting.

Honestly, that sounds pretty relatable.

She Really Loves Saltine Crackers And Writes Of Them Eloquently


Of all of the things Wilson writes, her love for saltine crackers are unheard of. While she prefers the unsalted kind, anyone could understand a love for salted carbohydrates. But, her specific interest in this dull cracker warrants nothing special.

But, her lifelong obsession came from when she was a kid.

Everything She Knows About Sex She Learned From Melrose Place

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At six years old, her parents didn’t allow her to watch whole episodes, recording and then skipping ahead to her parts so she could see herself on television. Eventually, they relented and just let her watch the show, figuring she was to young to understand what was happening on the show anyway.

From that show, she was exposed to extra-marital sex, gay relationships, and promiscuity.