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Creator / Mara Wilson

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From an adorable child actor to a witty writer and storyteller.

"Don't fuck with Mara Wilson!"

Mara Elizabeth Wilson (born July 24, 1987 in Burbank, California) is an American actress and writer.

Wilson rose to prominence as a child actor in '90s films, and is best known as the titular character in the feature film adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda, Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street, Natalie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire, Annabel Greening in A Simple Wish, and Lily Stone in Thomas and the Magic Railroad. She retired from film acting shortly after her appearance in Magic Railroad after coming to the conclusion that, in her own words, "film acting is not very fun"note .

Following this decision, Wilson entered stage acting. She returned to on-screen acting in 2012 with a focus on web series, notably appearing on several Channel Awesome shows where she reprised her role of Matilda as an adult (for The Nostalgia Chick's review of the film) and revealed that she has unholy powers that she will use to punish those who blindly mock her. (According to Linkara, she obtained these powers from God Himself.)

Wilson has also worked in a number of voice roles including a recurring role on Welcome to Night Vale as The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home, Jill Pill in Bojack Horseman, and Liv Amara/Diane Amara in Big Hero 6: The Series. She made a brief return to TV acting in a 2016 episode of Broad City inspired by Mrs. Doubtfire.

Another main venture for Wilson is writing. On top of being a playwright since college and having a play titled Sheeple produced in 2013, she published her first book, Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, in 2016. She also writes a blog, "Shan’t We Tell The Vicar?", to which she often posts humorous stories and the like. Her Twitter feed is similarly humorous. She's also written for Cracked.

Evidently, she's well aware of the existence of TV Tropes, too, having mentioned Artistic License – Physics (back when it was known as You Fail Physics Forever) and Cloud Cuckoolander, as well as a tendency to check this page. (Hi, Mara! We're happy you exist!)

Associated tropes:

  • Ability over Appearance: For the remake of Miracle on 34th Street, filmmakers considered giving the child a Gender Flip to be a boy. But someone recommended Mara for the part and after an audition, they cast her.
  • An Aesop: A couple of chapters in the autobiography of Former Child Star Mara Wilson have a moral in them:
    • The Chapter The C-Word details how women are objectified for their looks in the media, and how Mara being constantly referred to as 'cute' made her feel small and insignificant. She takes time to note that her character in Miracle on 34th Street was originally an interesting and complex child - but the inexperienced director kept dropping those traits to turn her into a caricature, emphasising her cuteness over substance.
      "So the next time someone hiding behind a username decides to tell me what would make me prettier, I'm going to propose the following: I will meet them in person and ask them to listen. I will tell them about going through puberty in the public eye after my mother died of cancer. I will tell them how it feels to find a website advertising nude photos of yourself as a 12-year-old. I will tell them I've looked at 'cute' from both sides now, and in both cases it just made me miserable. I will tell them how fitting it is that the only real acting I do these days is voiceover, where no one can see me. I will tell them how my mother wanted me to prove myself through my actions and skills, rather than my looks. Now I believe I have, and I am happier than ever. After all that, if they still insist on telling me how I should look, I will consider taking them on as my stylist."
    • The National En-Choirer chapter sums up the politics and backstabbing of cliques in high school — and how girls can be utterly horrible to each other for no good reason. Mara notes that real life Alpha Bitches come in many different varieties — and at the end of the day, all they want is power, and they get it by putting other people down.
      "Anyone can play the game, but the only way to win is to not play at all..."
  • Actor-Inspired Element: The doll that Matilda waves at during the "Little Bitty Pretty One" sequence was designed by Mara herself.
  • Adam Westing: Usually, when an actor engages in this they're playing a Cloud Cuckoo Lander variation of themselves. Mara Wilson's idea (at least when it comes to Channel Awesome) of this is to WIELD UNHOLY POWERS FROM BEYOND OUR REALM!!
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: She was a huge fan of Roald Dahl's novel Matilda and jumped at the chance to play the title character in a film.
  • Big Applesauce: She graduated from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 2009; she continued to live in New York City until 2017, when she moved back to her native California. She performed spoken-word and comedy shows (notably What Are You Afraid Of?) at NYC nightclubs, her play Sheeple enjoyed a run there, and she often tweeted and blogged about her experiences in the city when she lived there.
  • Career Resurrection: She seldom acts nowadays and is focused primarily on her writing, but her appearance on Nostalgia Critic got a lot of people interested in her life after child stardom.
  • Clark Kenting: In the Nostalgia Chick's Matilda review. Disguised with her hair in a bun and a thick pair of glasses.
  • Converted Fanboy: Once convinced that Doug was an asshole because of awful fans of his harassing her, ended up becoming practically an honorary Channel Awesome member and (for a time) good friends with both him and Lindsay.
  • Contractual Purity: People are thrown off that Matilda now has... filled out in her adult years. She's joked that it's only a matter of time before someone accuses her of ruining their childhood because of her boobs. On a different note, people assumed that because she was in family friendly movies that her play Sheeple was also family friendly. She has described the phenomenon, at least where fans' reactions to her figure or adult discussions of her sexuality (even before her outing) are concerned, with some humor, in both interviews and her memoirs as "the Matilda/Whore Complex". She did however say in her autobiography that her parents had a rule that she could only star in family friendly movies. She also felt pressure to not be seen drinking or getting rowdy at parties out of fear of upsetting her kid fanbase.
  • Creator Backlash: Miracle on 34th Street, mainly because Susan was rewritten a lot during filming. She was conceived as a more interesting and intelligent child, but they kept dropping these traits to emphasize her cuteness. A lot of critics had a Sweetness Aversion reaction, which Mara herself agrees with.
  • The Dreaded: When she shows up in Channel Awesome content, she generally appears as this.
  • Due to the Dead: Her essay "Remembering Robin", written to honor the late Robin Williams.
    "We're all his goddamn kids, too."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Her internet persona may be an evil revenge-hungry she-demon, but she doesn't hate kids.
  • God Never Said That: Despite people claiming the opposite, she is not ashamed of Thomas and the Magic Railroad. She claimed she had fun making it, and loved working with everyone on it. Most of her bad feelings about working on it comes from the fact that she had begun puberty shortly before filming began, so her breasts were developing around the time they did re-shoots — which didn't help her issues with body image.
  • I Am Not Spock: Apparently, people she encounters still call her Matilda, prompting her to remind them that Matilda doesn't exist. She's been at some pains to emphasize that her overly perky, precocious film characters are quite different from her real personality, even back then. But she has said that Matilda was very close to her real personality, which is one of the reasons she wanted to play her in the first place.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Yes, she's well aware of the "Matilda grew up to be Carrie White" fan theory, no need to parrot it at her.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative:
    • She has a lot in common with Daniel Radcliffe. She once tweeted:
      Hey, who's your favorite short, half-Irish and half Jewish (but secular), dark-haired light-eyed former child actor with a severe nickel allergy who played the title character from a beloved British children's book about a child with magic powers? Me, right?
    • Mara would often refer to herself and her family in interviews and social media as coming from an "upper lower middle class" economic background.
  • Playing Against Type: She played the Big Bad of Big Hero 6: The Series' second season, Liv Amara, after a career playing cute children (occasionally with magical powers) and heroic supporting characters... though this is averted if you know her better from her appearances in Channel Awesome, where she, like the aforementioned character, is not to be fucked with.
  • Promoted Fanboy:
    • She's mentioned in an online Theatermania article that Matilda was a favorite book of hers from early childhood, and that as soon as Mara's agent mentioned over the phone to her mother that a script called Matilda was submitted among the flood of scripts on her desk, her mother immediately asked for the script, knowing how much Mara loved the book.
    • She starred as a waitress as a background character in an episode of Broad City.
  • Remake Cameo: She declined the suggestion to play Miss Honey in the musical version of Matilda, but said she was open to having a cameo if they made a film.
  • She Is All Grown Up: She jokes about how her figure filling out from puberty tends to throw people a bit.
    Nella: Holy shit, Matilda! You've got a great rack!
  • Ship Tease: Not above giving "the slash-ficcers more material" (her words), though you really need Shipping Goggles to see it.note 
  • Troll: When Twitter removed the character limit on names, she changed hers to 'Mara "Get Rid of the Nazis" Wilson'.
    • The rename was also a Take That! to Twitter for their lax record on deleting white supremacist/racist/pro-Nazi/race-baiting accounts on the website, in spite of their policies against such accounts.
  • Tuckerization: For whatever reasons she has gotten roles for characters who have her name inside their name more than once: The Psychic Child Tamara in Batman Beyond and the Evilutionary Biologist Liv Amara in Big Hero 6: The Series.
  • Vacation, Dear Boy: She opted to make Thomas and the Magic Railroad to visit the UK.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Wrote in a blog post that she fell out with a content creator she didn't name, but was clearly implied to be Lindsay Ellis, over the latter gatekeeping Mara on being bisexual. Ellis later confirmed their falling out, but suggested that was only one of several things that came between them.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • She was sent the script to Donnie Darko but was ill at the time and got freaked out, so she turned it down.
    • She auditioned to play the dual roles in Disney's remake of The Parent Trap but was turned down for being too young.
    • She really lobbied hard to play Sam in The Safety of Objects, wanting to break away from children's movies. She was however deemed too voluptuous for the androgynous character, and asked to read for the more feminine friend. She didn't get either.
    • In her autobiography, it says right after she retired from acting, she turned down a part in an 'experimental' comedy series called Arrested Development. (Possibly the part that eventually went to Mae Whitman, who was born the year after Mara?)
    • She has mentioned many times on her Twitter account, as well as Where Am I Now?, of auditioning for many of the roles that would eventually go to a younger Kristen Stewart, including Catch That Kid and the aforementioned The Safety of Objects.
    • She turned down the script for Barney's Great Adventure.

Works Include