Mara Wilson Says She Was Sexualized As A Child Star & The Difficulty Of Living In ‘Matilda’s Shadow

Mara Wilson is opening up about being in the public eye as a child actor having starred in hit films like Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda.

“I don’t think you can be a child star without there being some kind of lasting damage,” Wilson told The Guardian in an interview. “The thing that people assume is that Hollywood is inherently corrupt, and there’s something about being on film sets that destroys you. For me, that was not necessarily true. I always felt safe on film sets.”

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Although Wilson recalls “some sketchy” things happening on the sets like adults telling dirty jokes, she says she “never felt unsafe” adding, “I think that’s because I worked with a lot of really wonderful directors, who were used to working with children.”

Her parents were protective of her on the movie sets and only booked her in children’s movies but says she “was still sexualized.”

“I had people sending me inappropriate letters and posting things about me online,” she adds. “I made the mistake of Googling myself when I was 12 and saw things that I couldn’t unsee.”

Wilson continued, “People don’t realize how much constantly talking to the press as a child weighs on you.”

The child star says that some journalists asked her at a young age if she knew about French kissing or ask her what actors she found “sexiest.”

Wilson also talked about living in the shadow of Matilda, the film based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book. She said that fans had a notion of who she was but when they met her in person “they were disappointed that I wasn’t as smart, pretty, nice, as they expect you to be. I think they were expecting me to be Matilda, and she’s wonderful, but she’s not real. She’s brilliant in every single way. She’s smart, and kind and powerful. Then they met me, this nerdy, awkward teenager who got angry sometimes, but couldn’t even channel her anger into powers. I was never going to live up to that.”

Transitioning out of being a child was not easy for Wilson either as she felt that by the time she was 12 Hollywood “was kind of done with me.”

“It affected me for a very long time because I had this Hollywood idea that if you’re not cute anymore, if you’re not beautiful, then you are worthless,” she said. “Because I directly tied that to the demise of my career. Even though I was sort of burned out on it, and Hollywood was burned out on me, it still doesn’t feel good to be rejected. For a long time, I had this kind of dysmorphia about the way that I looked and I obsessed about it too much.”

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