Mara Wilson

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Mara Wilson
Born (1987-07-24) July 24, 1987 (age 29)
Burbank, California
Residence Queens, New York City
Occupation Actress, writer, stage actress, voice actress, playwright
Years active 1993–present
Relatives Ben Shapiro (cousin)
Website Mara Wilson Writes Stuff

Mara Wilson (born July 24, 1987) is an American playwright and former child actor whose roles include Nattie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda Wormwood in Matilda, and Susan Walker in the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.

Early life[edit]

Wilson was born in Burbank, California,[1] on July 24, 1987.[2] She is the daughter of Mike Wilson, a television broadcast engineer, and the late Suzie Shapiro Wilson, a homemaker.[2] Wilson's mother was Jewish, and her father is of part Irish descent.[3][4][5] She was raised Jewish[6] and became an atheist when she was 15.[7] She has three older brothers named Danny, Jon, and Joel and a younger sister named Anna.[8] Wilson's cousin is political commentator Ben Shapiro.[9] Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 10, 1995,[10] and died on April 26, 1996, after the filming of Matilda. The movie was released after her death and was dedicated to Suzie's memory.[11] After her mother died, Wilson lost some of her passion for acting.[12]


Wilson became interested in acting after watching her oldest brother Danny act. Mara's parents refused to let her act, but they eventually reluctantly agreed to let her go into acting.[13] After acting in commercials for Lunchables, Bank of America, Texaco, and Marshall's, Mara was invited to audition for the 1993 comedy film Mrs. Doubtfire, and won the part of Natalie Hillard. This was followed by the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.[14] In 1994, she had 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 telecast on March 27, 1995, with Tim Curry and Kathy Najimy.[15] In 1995, she won the ShoWest Award for "Young Star of the Year". Her performances in those films caught the attention of Danny DeVito and led to her being cast as Matilda Wormwood in Matilda. She then went on to star in A Simple Wish alongside Martin Short.[16]

Wilson won a Young Artist Award for her role in A Simple Wish in "Best Performance in a Feature Film Leading Young Actress" and a Young Star Award for Matilda in "Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film". She was twice nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor, for Matilda and A Simple Wish. In 1999, she played Willow Johnson in the 1999 Disney Channel television film Balloon Farm.[17] Wilson auditioned for the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, but she was considered to be too young for the role.[18] In 1998 Wilson went to a table reading of What Dreams May Come starring Robin Williams, but she did not get the part.[19] Her appearance in the 2000 film Thomas and the Magic Railroad was her last major film role to date. At that point, scripts were being sent to her so that she did not have to go to auditions.[20] Before she retired from acting, she got the script for Donnie Darko, but declined to audition for the film.[21]

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.

In 2012, 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."[22]

In May 2013, Wilson wrote an article for online magazine, offering her opinion of the delinquency of some former child stars.[23] As of 2013 she works for Publicolor.[24] Her play Sheeple was produced in 2013 for the New York International Fringe Festival.[25] In an interview that December, Wilson stated that her film acting days are over,[26] and that she is instead focusing on writing.[27]

Wilson has a recurring role on the podcast Welcome to Night Vale as "The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home." Wilson has been signed to Penguin Books. Her debut book Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame will be available in 2016.[28][29] Wilson has her own storytelling show called What Are You Afraid Of?[30] Her goal is to turn What Are You Afraid Of? into a podcast.[31] In 2016, Wilson made a brief return to television by appearing as a waitress on an episode of Broad City.[32][33] She also voiced Jill Pill in season 3 of BoJack Horseman.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Wilson went to the Idyllwild Arts Academy near Palm Springs, California, and graduated in 2009 from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.[35][36] While at New York University she appeared in her own one woman show called Weren't You That Girl?[37]

When Wilson was 12, she was diagnosed with obsessive–compulsive disorder.[38] Wilson has struggled with anxiety and depression. In 2015, she teamed up with Project UROK, a nonprofit organization whose mission to aid teens with mental illness.[39] Wilson appeared in a video in which she talks about the mental illnesses she has experienced, including anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.[40]

As of 2013, she lives in Queens, New York, and is involved with New York storytelling and comedy.[41]

In 2016, after the Orlando shootings, Wilson came out as bisexual.[42]



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Mrs. Doubtfire Natalie "Nattie" Hillard Debut film
1994 Miracle on 34th Street Susan Walker
1996 Matilda Matilda Wormwood Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film
Won—Young Star Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film
1997 A Simple Wish Anabel Greening Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film
Nominated—Young Star Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film
2000 Thomas and the Magic Railroad Lily Stone Nominated—Young Star Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Melrose Place Nicole "Nikki" Petrova 5 episodes
1994 A Time to Heal Barbara Barton TV movie
1996 Pearl Samantha Stein Episode: "The Tutor" (Season 1, Episode 11)
1999 Batman Beyond Tamara (voice) Episode: "Mind Games" (Season 2, Episode 10)
1999 Balloon Farm Willow Johnson TV movie
2016 Broad City Waitress Episode: "Burning Bridges" (Season 3, Episode 8)
2016 BoJack Horseman Jill Pill (voice) 4 episodes


Year Title series Role Notes
2012 Nostalgia Critic Herself Episode: "A Simple Wish"[43]
Nostalgia Chick Episode: "Matilda"[44]
Demo Reel Donnie DuPre's wife (voice) Episode: "Lost in Translation (Bromance Version)"
Shut Up and Talk Herself Episode: "Guest: Mara Wilson"
Missed Connection Bitty Episode: "Bad Dates"[45]
Filmed in 2011
2013 Welcome to Night Vale The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home Episodes: "26 – Faceless Old Woman", "31 – A Blinking Light up on the Mountain", "Condos",[46] "The Debate", "49 – Old Oak Doors", "53 – The September Monologues", "The Librarian", "65 – Voicemail", "66 – worms..."
2014 Keith and The Girl Herself Episode: "2002: Boobs"[47]
Nostalgia Chick Episode: "Nostalgic Foods of Yore"
Amy Poehler's Smart Girls Episode: "The In Too Steep Tea Party"
Maven of the Eventide Pumpktoberfest Vlogs, Episodes 5 and 12
2015 Keith and The Girl Episode: "2147: Gang Dick"[48]
That's the Show with Danny Episode: "117: The One with Mara Wilson"[49]
Gilmore Guys Episode 4.21
2016 Mouth Time with Reductress Ruth Hrorgen Mouth Time LIVE! With Mara Wilson[50]



  • 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 (September 13, 2016)[52]


  1. ^ Kaufman, Amy (September 15, 2016). "Actress Mara Wilson has a memoir. She's not Matilda anymore.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Mara Wilson Biography (1987–)". Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Mara Wilson Interview Pt. 2 — Running Late with Scott Rogowsky on YouTube
  6. ^ "She's His G–damn Kid Too: Mara Wilson On 'Mrs. Doubtfire' 20th Anniversary". MTV News. 
  7. ^ Zachary Stewart (August 7, 2013). "Atheism, 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, and Sheeple with Mara Wilson and Max Reuben". 
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Justin Bieber a symptom of a big problem". KTTH. 
  10. ^ Cerio, Gregory (April 29, 1996). "Lessons in Courage". People. Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Mara Wilson - Matilda Star: 'Danny Devito And Perlman Helped Me When Mum Lost Cancer Battle'". WENN. 
  12. ^ "Why Hollywood didn't want the child star of Matilda, Mara Wilson". NewsComAu. 
  13. ^ Being Matilda
  14. ^ Mara Wilson's Role Is A Wish Come True
  15. ^ Archerd, Army (March 14, 1995). Oscars plan to 'Make 'em Laugh'. Variety.
  16. ^ Short Works Magic in Uneven A Simple Wish
  17. ^ Rip Torn, Mara Wilson Help Keep Disney's 'Balloon Farm' Aloft
  18. ^ "'Matilda' Star Mara Wilson Reviews 'Matilda the Musical'". The Daily Beast. 
  19. ^ ABC News. "Mara Wilson Recalls Robin Williams 'Was Different With Grown-Ups'". ABC News. 
  20. ^ "Mara Wilson Interview". 
  21. ^ "Mara Wilson on the sickness-induced reason she hates Gary Jules' "Mad World"". 
  22. ^ "Child Star Mara Wilson: Why I Quit Film Acting". April 17, 2012. 
  23. ^ Wilson, Mara (May 28, 2013). "7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective)". Archived from the original on June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Where Are They Now? #1: Mara Wilson". 
  25. ^ "Sheeple". August 10, 2013. Archived from the original on June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  26. ^ Neumyer, Scott. "Mara Wilson Talks Matilda, the Loss of Her Mother, and Quitting Acting". Parade. 
  27. ^ "Matilda Reunion! Mara Wilson and Kiami Davael Are Still Friends and Hanging Out 19 Years Later—See the Photo!". E! News. February 11, 2015. 
  28. ^ "Mara Wilson Inks Deal with Penguin Books". 
  29. ^ "Child star of 'Mrs. Doubtfire,' 'Matilda' strikes memoir deal". Yahoo News. October 16, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Mara Wilson's 'What are you afraid of?' at Union Hall". The Brooklyn Paper. 
  31. ^ "Interview: Former 'Matilda' Star Mara Wilson on Leaving Hollywood and Becoming a Writer  : Longreads Blog". Longreads Blog. 
  32. ^ How Broad City Convinced Mara Wilson to Get Back Into Acting (With a Mrs. Doubtfire Twist)
  33. ^ 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. Archived from the original on June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  34. ^ BoJack Horseman rides into season three atop the Secretariat Oscar campaign
  35. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee (April 18, 2012). "Mara Wilson Hated Being a Movie Star". The Forward.
  36. ^ "What happened to the original Matilda? As the hit musical dominates Olivier awards, former child star Mara Wilson". London: Daily Mail. April 17, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Mara Wilson On Child Stardom, Morons Wanting to "Party With Matilda" – NYU Local". NYU Local. 
  38. ^ "What is Mara Wilson afraid of?". The Daily Dot. 
  39. ^ Mara Wilson On Dealing With Mental Illness In The Public Eye
  40. ^ Pittman, Taylor (May 5, 2015). "Mara Wilson's Important Message For Teens Living With Mental Illness". The Huffington Post. 
  41. ^ Mrs. Doubtfire's Mara Wilson Reveals How She Quit Hollywood over Painful Scrutiny of Her Looks
  42. ^ Mara Wilson Comes Out as Bisexual in Wake of Orlando Shooting
  43. ^ "A Simple Wish". May 1, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Matilda". October 11, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Missed Connection: "Bad Dates"". Comediva. January 30, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  46. ^ "31 – A Blinking Light up on the Mountain from Welcome to Night Vale on podbay". Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Boobs (Keith and The Girl) – Comedy Talk Show & Podcast". Keith and The Girl. June 25, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  48. ^ "Gang Dick (Keith and The Girl)". Keith and The Girl. March 16, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015. 
  49. ^ "The One with Mara Wilson (That's the Show with Danny)". That's the Show with Danny. March 19, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015. 
  50. ^ "Episode: "Mouth Time LIVE! With Mara Wilson"". Mouth Time with Reductress. June 1, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016. 
  51. ^ Joshua L. Weinstein. "Unconventional kudos nab stars". Variety. 
  52. ^ See the cover of Matilda star Mara Wilson's memoir

External links[edit]