During the early and mid-90s there was one child star who seemed to pop up everywhere. Whether she played Robin Williams and Sally Field's adorable daughter, or the super intelligent student of Embeth Davidtz, Mara WIlson was instantly recognizable.
But after such a big career at such a young age, Mara Wilson faded away from Hollywood when she was barely a teenager. So whatever happened to Mara Wilson? Well actually, something quite amazing.
A Young Start
Launching into acting at age 5, Wilson quickly made a name for herself in the 1993 film Mrs Doubtfire, where she played the adorable Natalie Hillard, and starred alongside Robin Williams and Sally Field. Following on from that she had a reoccurring role on Melrose Place, and in 1994 she appeared in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street and TV movie A Time to Heal.
In 1996 Mara starred as the main character in her most famous film, Matilda, playing the super intelligent, and magically gifted child Matilda. Part way through filming Matilda, Mara's mother, Suzie died from breast cancer and the film was dedicated to her memory.
Following Matilda, Mara appeared in several more films including A Simple WIsh, Balloon Farm and Thomas and the Magic Railroad, and well as a couple of TV shows, before deciding to focus on school instead of acting, and retreating from the limelight.
Life Away From The lights
For over a decade Mara Wilson lived her life away from cameras and studied drama at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. However in recent years she has taken a small step back into the spotlight to talk about her time as a child star and why she gave it all up.
Writing on her blog Mara Wilson Writes Stuff, she gave us all an insight into the acting world and why, for her, it ultimately held no interest:
Film can be exciting, but more often, it's tedious. The celebrity aspect is nothing short of ridiculous, and auditioning is brutal and dehumanizing. Every time I see a pretty young girl on the subway reading sides for an audition, my only thought is, 'Man, am I glad I'm not doing that anymore.' I never feel nostalgia, just relief.
Despite her reluctance to act, she has made the odd appearance in the media. In 2012 she voiced a character in the webs series Demo Reel, and in 2016 she voiced Jill Pill in BoJack Horseman (voice-over acting is something Wilson notes on her blog that she loves doing). She also made a brief appearance in the third season of Broad City as the waitress.
Author, Ambassador And All-Around Awesome Person
More recently Mara Wilson has taken small steps back into the spotlight. In 2013 she shared her insight into the movie biz in an article titled 7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective). In 2014 she landed a deal with Penguin Books to publish a book of personal essays and in 2016 her book, Where Am I Now?, was released. She regularly writes for websites including Jezebel, The Toast, McSweeney's, the Daily Beast and Reductress. But aside from all that, she's also a massive Twitter user, winning a Shorty Award for her candid and refreshing tweets.
In addition to writing a lot, Mara also works for the non-profit organization Publicolor. Publicolor seeks to fight poverty by engaging youth in education, and reverse the dropout rate. However this isn't the only cause Wilson is passionate about. In April 2015, she also spoke up about her struggles with OCD and depression for Project UROK, a non-profit that aims to help teens dealing with mental health issues.
Despite it being 24 years since a now 30-year-old Mara Wilson starred in Mrs Doubtfire, her fans never forgot her. What makes Mara Wilsons retreat from the film industry so interesting is that despite having no desire to be in films, she has floated back into the public eye, and is determined to make a positive impact from the celebrity that she gained in her younger years. Talk about a child star success story!
What's your favorite Mara Wilson movie?