Mara Wilson

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Mara Wilson
Mara Wilson by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Wilson in November 2017
Mara Elizabeth Wilson

(1987-07-24) July 24, 1987 (age 31)
ResidenceQueens, New York, U.S.
Alma materNew York University
OccupationActress, writer
Years active
  • 1993–2000
  • 2012–present
RelativesBen Shapiro (cousin)[1]

Mara Elizabeth Wilson[2] (born July 24, 1987) is an American writer and former child actress. Her best known roles include Natalie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street (1994), Matilda Wormwood in Matilda (1996), and Lily Stone in Thomas and the Magic Railroad (2000). Since retiring from film acting, Wilson has focused on writing, penning the play Sheeple which was produced for the New York International Fringe Festival in 2013 as well as publishing a memoir, Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame (2016).

Early life[edit]

Mara Elizabeth Wilson was born on July 24, 1987,[2] in Burbank, California.[3] Her father, Mike Wilson, was a television broadcast engineer, and her mother, Suzie Wilson (née Shapiro; deceased), was a homemaker.[2] Wilson's mother was Jewish, and her father is of part Irish descent.[4][5][6] She was raised Jewish,[7] and became an atheist when she was 15.[8] She has three older brothers—Danny, Jon, and Joel—and a younger sister, Anna.[9] Political commentator Ben Shapiro is her maternal cousin.[10] Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 10, 1995,[11] and died on April 26, 1996, after production on Matilda had wrapped. Accordingly, the film was dedicated to Suzie's memory.[12] After her mother died, Wilson lost some of her passion for acting.[13]



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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[citation needed]

Wilson sang "Make 'Em Laugh" at the 67th Academy Awards telecast on March 27, 1995, with Tim Curry and Kathy Najimy.[16] In 1995, she won the ShoWest Award for "Young Star of the Year". Her performances in those films caught the attention of Danny DeVito which led to her being cast as Matilda Wormwood in Matilda. She then went on to star in A Simple Wish alongside Martin Short.[17]

In 1999, she played Willow Johnson in the 1999 Disney Channel television film Balloon Farm.[18]

Wilson auditioned for the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, but she lost to Lindsay Lohan after being deemed too young for the role.[19]

In 1998 Wilson went to a table reading of What Dreams May Come starring Robin Williams, but she did not get the part.[20]

Wilson appeared in the 2000 children's fantasy adventure film Thomas and the Magic Railroad, it was her last feature film until 2015. At that point, scripts were being sent to her so that she did not have to go to auditions. After Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Wilson retired from acting.[21]

Before taking a 12-year hiatus from acting, she got the script for Donnie Darko but declined to audition for the film.[22]

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, when asked why she quit film acting, Wilson explained: "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."[23] Wilson appeared in the 2015 comedy-drama film Billie Bob Joe, it was her first feature film in over 15 years.

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?[24] Her goal is to turn What Are You Afraid Of? into a podcast.[25] In 2016, Wilson made a brief return to television by appearing as a waitress on an episode of Broad City.[26][27] She also voiced Jill Pill, a writer/director anthropomorphic spider, in season 3 of BoJack Horseman.[28]


In May 2013, Wilson wrote an article for online magazine, offering her opinion of the delinquency of some former child stars.[29] As of that year, she worked for Publicolor.[30] Her play Sheeple was produced in 2013 for the New York International Fringe Festival.[31] In an interview that December, Wilson stated that her film acting days are over,[32] and that she is instead focusing on writing.[33]

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.[34][35] While at New York University she appeared in her own one-woman show called Weren't You That Girl?[36]

When Wilson was 12, she was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder.[37] Wilson has struggled with anxiety and depression. In 2015, she teamed up with Project UROK, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to aid teens with mental illness.[38] Wilson appeared in a video in which she talks about the mental illnesses she has experienced, including anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.[39] She also discussed her history with mental illness on Paul Gilmartin's Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast.[40] She has also been diagnosed with ADHD.[41]

In 2013, Wilson lived in Queens, New York, and was involved with compulsive storytelling.[42]

Following the Orlando nightclub shooting in June 2016, Wilson came out as bisexual in solidarity with the LGBT community.[43]

In an NPR interview, Nancy Cartwright stated that a young Mara Wilson was the inspiration for a character's voice on The Simpsons episode "Bart Sells His Soul".[44]



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Mrs. Doubtfire Natalie "Nattie" Hillard
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
2015 Billie Bob Joe Herself


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Melrose Place Nicole "Nikki" Petrova Recurring role (Season 2); 5 episodes
1994 A Time to Heal Barbara Barton Television film
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 Television film
2016 Broad City Waitress Episode: "Burning Bridges" (Season 3, Episode 8)
2016 BoJack Horseman Jill Pill (voice) Recurring role (Season 3); 4 episodes
2018 Big Hero 6: The Series Liv Amara (voice) Episode: "Big Problem"


Year Title series Role Notes
2012 Nostalgia Critic Herself Episode: "A Simple Wish"[45]
Nostalgia Chick Episode: "Matilda"[46]
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"[47]
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",[48] "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"[49]
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
I Don't Even Own a Television Episode: "016 — Covert Conception (w/ Mara Wilson)"[50]
2015 Keith and The Girl Episode: "2147: Gang Dick"[51]
Gilmore Guys Episode 4.21
That's the Show with Danny Episode: "117: The One with Mara Wilson"[52]
I Don't Even Own a Television Episode: "026: Treacherous Love (w/ Mara Wilson)"[53]
2016 Mouth Time with Reductress Ruth Hrorgen Mouth Time LIVE! With Mara Wilson[54]
2017 I Don't Even Own a Television Herself Episode: "081: I'm With the Band (w/ Mara Wilson)"[55]


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.


  • 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)


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ a b c "Mara Wilson Biography (1987–)". Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  3. ^ Kaufman, Amy (September 15, 2016). "Actress Mara Wilson has a memoir. She's not Matilda anymore". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  4. ^ @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.
  5. ^ @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.
  6. ^ Mara Wilson Interview Pt. 2 — Running Late with Scott Rogowsky on YouTube
  7. ^ "She's His G–damn Kid Too: Mara Wilson On 'Mrs. Doubtfire' 20th Anniversary". MTV News.
  8. ^ Zachary Stewart (August 7, 2013). "Atheism, 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, and Sheeple with Mara Wilson and Max Reuben".
  9. ^ Jr, HOWELL J. MALHAM (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" – via LA Times.
  10. ^ "Ep. 411 - Another Day, Another Mass Shooting". Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  11. ^ Cerio, Gregory (April 29, 1996). "Lessons in Courage". People. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  12. ^ "Mara Wilson - Matilda Star: 'Danny Devito And Perlman Helped Me When Mum Lost Cancer Battle'". WENN.
  13. ^ "Why Hollywood didn't want the child star of Matilda, Mara Wilson". NewsComAu.
  14. ^ "Being Matilda".
  15. ^ "Mara Wilson's Role Is A Wish Come True".
  16. ^ Archerd, Army (March 14, 1995). Oscars plan to 'Make 'em Laugh'. Variety.
  17. ^ Short Works Magic in Uneven A Simple Wish
  18. ^ HEFFLEY, LYNNE (March 27, 1999). "Rip Torn, Mara Wilson Help Keep Disney's 'Balloon Farm' Aloft" – via LA Times.
  19. ^ "'Matilda' Star Mara Wilson Reviews 'Matilda the Musical'". The Daily Beast.
  20. ^ ABC News. "Mara Wilson Recalls Robin Williams 'Was Different With Grown-Ups'". ABC News.
  21. ^ "Mara Wilson Interview".
  22. ^ "Mara Wilson on the sickness-induced reason she hates Gary Jules' "Mad World"".
  23. ^ "Child Star Mara Wilson: Why I Quit Film Acting". April 17, 2012.
  24. ^ "Mara Wilson's 'What are you afraid of?' at Union Hall". The Brooklyn Paper.
  25. ^ "Interview: Former 'Matilda' Star Mara Wilson on Leaving Hollywood and Becoming a Writer : Longreads Blog". Longreads Blog.
  26. ^ "How Broad City Convinced Mara Wilson to Get Back Into Acting".
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "BoJack Horseman rides into season three atop the Secretariat Oscar campaign". July 22, 2016.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "Where Are They Now? #1: Mara Wilson".
  31. ^ "Sheeple". August 10, 2013. Archived from the original on June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  32. ^ Neumyer, Scott. "Mara Wilson Talks Matilda, the Loss of Her Mother, and Quitting Acting". Parade.
  33. ^ "Matilda Reunion! Mara Wilson and Kiami Davael Are Still Friends and Hanging Out 19 Years Later—See the Photo!". E! News. February 11, 2015.
  34. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee (April 18, 2012). "Mara Wilson Hated Being a Movie Star". The Forward.
  35. ^ "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.
  36. ^ "Mara Wilson On Child Stardom, Morons Wanting to "Party With Matilda" – NYU Local". NYU Local.
  37. ^ "What is Mara Wilson afraid of?". The Daily Dot.
  38. ^ Holmes, Lindsay (October 9, 2015). "Mara Wilson On Dealing With Mental Illness In The Public Eye" – via Huff Post.
  39. ^ Pittman, Taylor (May 5, 2015). "Mara Wilson's Important Message For Teens Living With Mental Illness". The Huffington Post.
  40. ^ "Mara Wilson - The Mental Illness Happy Hour". The Mental Illness Happy Hour. September 16, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  41. ^ Wilson, Mara (May 19, 2015). "Kill Me Now with Judy Gold - Episode 3" (Interview). Interviewed by Judy Gold. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  42. ^ Nelson, Jeff (August 24, 2016). "Mara Wilson: Why Mrs. Doubtfire Star Quit Hollywood over Scrutiny of Her Looks". People.
  43. ^ Rayne, Naja (June 15, 2016). "Mara Wilson Comes Out as Bisexual in Wake of Orlando Shooting". People.
  44. ^ "Bart's Girlfriend (with Mara Wilson)". August 8, 2017.
  45. ^ "A Simple Wish". May 1, 2012. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  46. ^ "Matilda". October 11, 2012. Archived from the original on August 16, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  47. ^ "Missed Connection: "Bad Dates"". Comediva. January 30, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  48. ^ "31 – A Blinking Light up on the Mountain from Welcome to Night Vale on podbay". Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  49. ^ "Boobs (Keith and The Girl) – Comedy Talk Show & Podcast". Keith and The Girl. June 25, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  50. ^ "016 -- Covert Conception (w/ Mara Wilson)". i don't even own a television. August 8, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  51. ^ "Gang Dick (Keith and The Girl)". Keith and The Girl. March 16, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  52. ^ "The One with Mara Wilson (That's the Show with Danny)". That's the Show with Danny. March 19, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  53. ^ "026 — Treacherous Love (w/ Mara Wilson)". i don't even own a television. February 25, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  54. ^ "Episode: "Mouth Time LIVE! With Mara Wilson"". Mouth Time with Reductress. June 1, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  55. ^ "081 — I'm with the Band (w/ Mara Wilson)". i don't even own a television. May 14, 2017. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  56. ^ Joshua L. Weinstein. "Unconventional kudos nab stars". Variety.

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