Mara Wilson

Mara Elizabeth Wilson (born July 24, 1987) is an American actress and writer. As a child, she gained prominence playing Natalie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), having only appeared in commercials previously. She also played 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 acting in 2000, Wilson has focused on writing and has appeared in numerous podcasts.

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

(1987-07-24) July 24, 1987 (age 32)
Alma materNew York University
OccupationActress, writer
Years active1993–2000; 2012–present
RelativesBen Shapiro (cousin)[1]
WebsiteMara Wilson Writes Stuff

Early lifeEdit

Wilson was born in Burbank, California.[2] She is the oldest daughter of Mike Wilson, a television broadcast engineer at KTLA 5 News and Suzie Wilson (née Shapiro; 1953–1996), a homemaker and Burbank PTA school volunteer.[3] Wilson's mother was Jewish, and her father is of half-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 one younger sister, Anna.[9] Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 10, 1995,[10] and died on April 26, 1996. The film Matilda was dedicated to her memory.[11] Wilson later recalled that this affected her passion for acting.[12]

Wilson attended Idyllwild Arts Academy near Palm Springs, California. After graduation in 2005, Wilson relocated to New York City, where she continued her studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She graduated in 2009.[13] While at New York University she appeared in her own one-woman show called Weren't You That Girl?[14]


Child actingEdit

Wilson became interested in acting after watching her older brother, Danny, appear in television commercials. Initially, Wilson's parents were disinclined but eventually agreed to let her into acting.[15] After appearing in several commercials for business companies, such as Lunchables, Bank of America, Texaco, and Marshalls, Wilson was invited to audition for the 1993 comedy film Mrs. Doubtfire. Producers were impressed and awarded her the role of Natalie Hillard. The following year, Wilson appeared in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street.[16] In 1994, she was cast in 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 broadcast on March 27, 1995, with Tim Curry and Kathy Najimy.[17] In 1995, she won the ShoWest Award for Young Star of the Year. Her film work caught the attention of Danny DeVito, and Wilson was cast as the main protagonist, Matilda Wormwood, in the 1996 film Matilda. Wilson was nominated for three awards for her performance, winning the YoungStar Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film. In 1997, she starred in A Simple Wish alongside Martin Short.[18] Although Wilson was nominated for three awards, the film mostly received negative reviews by critics.

In 1997, Wilson went to a table reading for What Dreams May Come starring Robin Williams, but she did not get the part.[19] A year later, Wilson unsuccessfully auditioned for the 1998 remake of Disney's The Parent Trap; the role was given to Lindsay Lohan after Wilson was deemed too young.[20] In 1999, she portrayed Willow Johnson in the 1999 Disney Channel television film Balloon Farm, based on a fiction book.[21] In 2000, Wilson appeared in the fantasy-adventure family film Thomas and the Magic Railroad, which was her last film as a child actor. Wilson retired from film work shortly afterward.[22] Wilson received a film script for the 2001 film Donnie Darko, but she declined to audition for the film.[23]


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, 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."[24] However, Wilson made a return to acting in the 2015 comedy-drama film Billie Bob Joe.

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?[25][26] In 2016, Wilson made a brief return to television in a Mrs. Doubtfire-inspired episode of Broad City; she played a waitress where the comical Heimlich scene from the movie was reenacted.[27][28] That same year, she also voiced Jill Pill, a writer/director anthropomorphic spider, in season 3 of BoJack Horseman.[29]


In May 2013, Wilson wrote an article for online magazine, offering her opinion of the delinquency of some former child stars.[30] As of 2013, she worked for Publicolor.[31] Her play Sheeple was produced in 2013 for the New York International Fringe Festival.[32] In an interview that December, Wilson stated that her film acting days are over,[33] and that she is instead focusing on writing.[34] Her book Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame was published on September 13, 2016.[35]

Personal lifeEdit

At age 12, Wilson was diagnosed with obsessive–compulsive disorder.[36] She has also been diagnosed with ADHD.[37] In 2015, she collaborated 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 of mental illness on Paul Gilmartin's podcast The Mental Illness Happy Hour.[40]

As of 2013, Wilson resides in Queens, New York.[41]

Wilson is bisexual.[42]

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".[43]

Political commentator, author, and public speaker Ben Shapiro is her maternal cousin.[44] According to Shapiro, Wilson has blocked him on social media platforms,[45] and Wilson has stated that "growing up is great because you get to choose which relatives you want to spend time with and which ones to cut out of your life without any regret."[46]



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Mrs. Doubtfire Natalie "Nattie" Hillard
1994 Miracle on 34th Street Susan Walker
A Time to Heal Barbara Barton Television film
1996 Matilda Matilda Wormwood
1997 A Simple Wish Anabel Greening
1999 Balloon Farm Willow Johnson Television film
2000 Thomas and the Magic Railroad Lily Stone


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Melrose Place Nicole "Nikki" Petrova Recurring role; 5 episodes
1996 Pearl Samantha Stein Episode: "The Tutor"
1999 Batman Beyond Tamara (voice) Episode: "Mind Games"
2016 Broad City Waitress Episode: "Burning Bridges"
BoJack Horseman Jill Pill (voice) Recurring role; 4 episodes
2018–2019 Big Hero 6: The Series Liv Amara (voice) Recurring role


Year Title series Role Notes
2012 Nostalgia Critic Herself Episode: "A Simple Wish"[47]
Nostalgia Chick Episode: "Matilda"[48]
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"[49]
2013 Welcome to Night Vale The Faceless Old Woman

Who Secretly Lives In Your Home


"26 – Faceless Old Woman"

"31 – A Blinking Light up on the Mountain"


"The Debate"

"49 – Old Oak Doors"

"53 – The September Monologues"

"The Librarian"

"65 – Voicemail"

"66 – worms..."

“106 - Filings”

2014 Keith and The Girl Herself Episode: "2002: Boobs"[51]
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)"[52]
2015 Keith and The Girl Episode: "2147: Gang Dick"[53]
Gilmore Guys Episode 4.21
That's the Show with Danny Episode: "117: The One with Mara Wilson"[54]
I Don't Even Own a Television Episode: "026: Treacherous Love (w/ Mara Wilson)"[55]
2016 Mouth Time with Reductress Ruth Hrorgen Mouth Time LIVE! With Mara Wilson[56]
2017 I Don't Even Own a Television Herself Episode: "081: I'm With the Band (w/ Mara Wilson)"[57]
2019 Passenger List Writer Episode 5: Cyberspace

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Organisation Award Work Result
1995 ShoWest Award Young Star of the Year N/A Won[58]
1996 Saturn Award Best Performance by a Younger Actor Matilda Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film Nominated
YoungStar Award Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film Won
1997 Saturn Award Best Performance by a Younger Actor A Simple Wish Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film
YoungStar Award Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film
2000 YoungStar Award Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film Thomas and the Magic Railroad Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film


  • 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. ^ 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. ^ 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. June 4, 2013.
  12. ^ "Why Hollywood didn't want the child star of Matilda, Mara Wilson". NewsComAu.
  13. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee (April 18, 2012). "Mara Wilson Hated Being a Movie Star". The Forward.
  14. ^ "Mara Wilson On Child Stardom, Morons Wanting to "Party With Matilda" – NYU Local". NYU Local.
  15. ^ Wilson, Mara (April 22, 2013). "Being Matilda". Theater Mania. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  16. ^ Orange County (Calif.) Register (July 27, 1997). "Mara Wilson's Role Is A Wish Come True". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on June 23, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  17. ^ Archerd, Army (March 14, 1995). "Oscars plan to 'Make 'em Laugh'". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  18. ^ Turan, Kenneth (July 11, 1997). "Short Works Magic in Uneven A Simple Wish". LA Times. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  19. ^ Messer, Lesley (August 18, 2014). "Mara Wilson Recalls Robin Williams 'Was Different With Grown-Ups'". ABC News. American Broadcasting Company. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  20. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (November 7, 2017). "'Matilda' Star Mara Wilson Reviews 'Matilda the Musical'". The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast Company LLC. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  21. ^ Heffley, Lynne (March 27, 1999). "Rip Torn, Mara Wilson Help Keep Disney's 'Balloon Farm' Aloft". LA Times. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  22. ^ "Mara Wilson Interview". January 7, 2009. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  23. ^ Eakin, Marah (April 11, 2014). "Mara Wilson on the sickness-induced reason she hates Gary Jules' "Mad World"". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  24. ^ Johnson, Zach (April 17, 2012). "Child Star Mara Wilson: Why I Quit Film Acting". American Media Inc. Archived from the original on August 28, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  25. ^ Deliso, Meredith (January 15, 2014). "Mara Wilson's 'What are you afraid of?' at Union Hall". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  26. ^ Oliveira, Adele (November 26, 2014). "Interview: Former 'Matilda' Star Mara Wilson on Leaving Hollywood and Becoming a Writer". Longreads Blog. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  27. ^ Fisher, Kendall (April 8, 2016). "How Broad City Convinced Mara Wilson to Get Back Into Acting". E! Online. E! News. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  28. ^ 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. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  29. ^ Chappell, Les (July 22, 2016). "BoJack Horseman rides into season three atop the Secretariat Oscar campaign". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  30. ^ Wilson, Mara (May 28, 2013). "7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective)". Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  31. ^ Health, Paul (March 9, 2013). "Where Are They Now? #1: Mara Wilson". Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  32. ^ "Sheeple". NYC Arts. Alliance for the Arts. August 10, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  33. ^ Neumyer, Scott (December 2, 2013). "Mara Wilson Talks Matilda, the Loss of Her Mother, and Quitting Acting". Parade. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  34. ^ Finn, Natalie (February 11, 2015). "Matilda Reunion! Mara Wilson and Kiami Davael Are Still Friends and Hanging Out 19 Years Later—See the Photo!". E! News. E! Online. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  35. ^ Chavez, Danette (December 9, 2016). "Mara Wilson shines like a beacon in the witty and touching Where Am I Now?". The A.V. Club. Onion, Inc. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  36. ^ Linic, Claire (November 14, 2014). "What is Mara Wilson afraid of?". The Daily Dot. Complex Media, Inc. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  37. ^ Wilson, Mara (May 19, 2015). "Kill Me Now with Judy Gold - Episode 3". Omny Studio (Interview). Interviewed by Judy Gold. Archived from the original on April 16, 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  38. ^ Holmes, Lindsay (October 9, 2015). "Mara Wilson On Dealing With Mental Illness In The Public Eye". Huffington Post. New York City: Huffington Post Media Group. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  39. ^ Pittman, Taylor (May 5, 2015). "Mara Wilson's Important Message For Teens Living With Mental Illness". The Huffington Post. Verizon Media. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  40. ^ Gilmartin, Paul (September 16, 2016). "Mara Wilson". The Mental Illness Happy Hour. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  41. ^ Nelson, Jeff (August 24, 2016). "Mara Wilson: Why Mrs. Doubtfire Star Quit Hollywood over Scrutiny of Her Looks". Meredith Corporation. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  42. ^ Goldberg, Ariel (September 20, 2017). "'Matilda' is Bi and So Am I: an Interview with Mara Wilson". Medium. San Francisco, California: A Medium Corporation.
  43. ^ Prescott, Julia; Goertz, Allie (August 8, 2017). "Allie Goertz and Julia Prescott interview comics, writers, animators and show creators about their favorite episode of "The Simpsons."". Feral Audio. Archived from the original on August 8, 2017.
  44. ^ "Ep. 411 - Another Day, Another Mass Shooting (at 44.22 minutes in)". Retrieved April 20, 2018.
  45. ^ Shapiro, Ben [@benshapiro] (November 28, 2017). "I believe she blocked me years ago, before I even knew she was on Twitter" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  46. ^ Wilson, Mara [@MaraWilson] (May 8, 2019). "Growing up is great because you get to choose which relatives you want to spend time with and which ones to cut out of your life without any regret" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  47. ^ "A Simple Wish". May 1, 2012. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  48. ^ "Matilda". October 11, 2012. Archived from the original on August 16, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  49. ^ "Missed Connection: "Bad Dates"". Comediva. January 30, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  50. ^ "31 – A Blinking Light up on the Mountain from Welcome to Night Vale on podbay". Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  51. ^ "Boobs (Keith and The Girl) – Comedy Talk Show & Podcast". Keith and The Girl. June 25, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  52. ^ "016 -- Covert Conception (w/ Mara Wilson)". i don't even own a television. August 8, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  53. ^ "Gang Dick (Keith and The Girl)". Keith and The Girl. March 16, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  54. ^ "The One with Mara Wilson (That's the Show with Danny)". That's the Show with Danny. March 19, 2015. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  55. ^ "026 — Treacherous Love (w/ Mara Wilson)". i don't even own a television. February 25, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
  56. ^ "Episode: "Mouth Time LIVE! With Mara Wilson"". Mouth Time with Reductress. June 1, 2016. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  57. ^ "081 — I'm with the Band (w/ Mara Wilson)". i don't even own a television. May 14, 2017. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  58. ^ Joshua L. Weinstein. "Unconventional kudos nab stars". Variety.

External linksEdit