If you grew up in the 90s or early 2000s odds are you’ve watched Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire at least once (I hope). Mara Wilson might be the first one to stick out in your mind when thinking about those movies unless it’s Robin Williams in drag in which case I don’t blame you. With such a strong debut at a young age, where did Mara disappear to?
Born in 1987 in Burbank, California, Mara Wilson was the oldest daughter of her family, with three older brothers and one younger sister. While her mother worked as a school volunteer, her father was a broadcast engineer for the local news station, which would eventually give Mara a step into acting.
Around five years old Mara Wilson became interested in acting, eventually joining one of her brothers in local commercials for the station her father worked at. Her acting caught the eye of someone in casting, and she was invited to audition for what would become Mrs. Doubtfire.
Other than being one of the greatest wholesome comedies ever created, Mrs. Doubtfire also has the distinction of being Mara WIlson’s first film role, starring as the daughter of Robin Williams’s character in the film. It would go on to widespread acclaim, and rumors still float around about an R-rated cut of the film made from Williams’ improvised scenes.
Mara Wilson would get a couple of television roles between films, appearing for guest spots in shows like Melrose Place and Bob. But, working with director Christopher Colombus lead to another role for MaraWilson, as he recommended her to John Hughes for his Miracle on 34th Street remake the following year in 1994.
The domino effect kept going, with her appearance in the Christmas classic catching the eye of America’s sweetheart Danny Devito, who was looking to cast the lead role in Matilda. Based on Roald Dahl’s book, the film followed the gifted Matilda as she uses her psychic powers for good.
While the film would be well received, with heaps of praise directed at Mara Wilson for her performance, this would be the film that put her off of acting for quite some time. While filming, her mother passed away from breast cancer. The movie was dedicated to her, but understandably an experience like that can affect passions and interests.
Mara would continue picking up guest roles on various shows and some voice acting gigs here and there, notably in an episode of Batman Beyond. She would only take on a couple more film roles, with her last being Thomas and the Magic Railroad in 2000. Thomas the Tank Engine destroys lives.
Retirement From Acting
Not really though, as Mara Wilson stepped back of her own accord, instead deciding to focus on stageplays and finishing school at Idyllwild Arts Academy in 2005. She would go on to attend college in New York and work on her writing, attempting to make her name in the world of words (relatable).
While attending NYU’s Tish School of the Arts, she would write and star in a one-woman show based on her life. The former child star would graduate in 2009, choosing to remain in New York City and focus on writing her next play, as well as a book.
Her play Sheeple would debut in 2013, not long after Mara Wilson had made a somewhat unofficial return to acting in multiple web series like Nostalgia Critic and Nostalgia Chick. She would continue moving around small web roles as the years went, popping up both as herself and in small voice roles.
Mara Wilson would release her memoir Where Am I Now? in 2016 to acclaim, with witty stories and recollections about growing in such rapid fame. As of now, Wilson says she’s writing her second book, this time a work of fiction.
What is Mara Wilson doing now?
While she doesn’t have many plans to return to film, saying she wasn’t a fan of the experience of acting and repeating scenes until perfect, instead deciding to just pick up voice roles in both major animated shows like Bojack Horseman and smaller podcasts like cult-hit Welcome to Nightvale.
These days Mara Wilson sticks around New York, living and writing as well as pursuing other interests. She can frequently be found dunking on her cousins, Ben and Abby Shapiro on Twitter. You can’t choose family, but you can choose to publicly embarrass them. Advice to live by.
Mara Wilson will continue to write and pop up in roles while also being an advocate for both the LGBTQ+ community and those living with mental illnesses. Throughout the past decade, she has discussed openly her own bisexuality and struggles with both OCD and ADHD. She frequently speaks about the need for better mental health care in the United States and beyond while teaming up with charity UROK to support the cause.
While Mara isn’t acting as a magical and intelligent girl anymore, she’s instead living the role and living up to Matilda’s reputation in real life. Mara Wilson is using her gifts and reach to spread awareness and a little chaotic good along the way.