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The book

  • Technology Marches On: In today's age of cell phones with cameras, Mrs. Trunchbull's violent actions against the children "whom nobody would believe if you would have told them" wouldn't remain a Dark Secret long, as they'd undoubtedly catch these actions and post them to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and this would prompt a lot of police visits to the school.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • When the book was still in the works, the protagonist was intended to be male, continuing the trend of little-boy protagonists in other Roald Dahl books.
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    • In an early draft of the book, Matilda was a mischievous Enfante Terrible who used her powers to play nasty tricks on her otherwise goodhearted parents. She eventually went through a Heel–Face Turn and used her gift to save a bus full of schoolchildren, but this ended with her dying in the process.
  • Write Who You Know: Roald Dahl allegedly based the Trunchbull off his daughter's headmistress at boarding school - who had really creative punishments. Once his daughter and a friend were caught sneaking ice cream and were made to stand until dawn as the ice cream melted down their legs.

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The movie

  • Acclaimed Flop: The movie was not a box office success, but was received very well from critics and audiences for staying true to the book. It gained a bigger audience on video and on television. Matilda is one of a multitude of acclaimed flops to have come from a Roald Dahl story.
  • Acting for Two: Danny DeVito plays both Mr Wormwood and narrates the story.
  • Actor-Inspired Element: Mara Wilson designed the doll that features in the "Little Bitty Pretty One" sequence, and named her Wanda.
  • Beauty Inversion: The sweet faced Pam Ferris as the ugly and evil Mrs Trunchbull.
  • California Doubling: A literal example. The movie was shot in parts of Arcadia, California.
  • Dawson Casting: Kira Spencer Hesser was a borderline example, playing the elementary school student Hortensia at age thirteen.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Danny DeVito is the director, the narrator, and Harry Wormwood, as well as serving as one of the producers.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
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    • Mara Wilson was so self-conscious about dancing in front of the crew that Danny DeVito made everyone on set dance along with her.
  • Fake American: South African actress Embeth Davidtz puts on an American accent to play Miss Honey.
  • I Am Not Spock:
    • Mara Wilson has said that multiple fans still call her 'Matilda', prompting her to remind them that Matilda is a character and doesn't really exist. However she does affirm that Matilda was quite close to her real personality; one of the reasons she wanted to play her in the first place.
    • Embeth Davidtz seems to be heavily associated with Miss Honey too. Despite starring in acclaimed films like Schindler's List, Bridget Jones' Diary and Junebug, and appearing on shows like Mad Men - plenty of news articles will still refer to her as 'Miss Honey from Matilda'.
  • In Memoriam: The film is dedicated to Mara Wilson's mother Suzie, who passed away during filming.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Jimmy Karz, the actor who played Bruce, actually didn't like chocolate cake.
  • Method Acting: Pam Ferris would often stay in character when Danny Devito called cut in an attempt to scare the children on set so that their fear of Miss Trunchbull would be genuine when the camera was rolling.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Mara Wilson mentioned that she and her siblings were longtime fans of the book, and that she put a very serious effort into doing the role properly as the book and character meant so much to her. It is the role she is best identified with, feels is the closest to real life personality, and feels she did the best performance of. She later gave her approval and acclaim to Matlida The Musical.
  • Real-Life Relative: Zinnia Wormwood is Danny DeVito's wife Rhea Perlman.
  • Throw It In!: A minor example; As Matilda prepares to go on her first day of school she wears a blue sweater, but Mara Wilson thought it was too itchy and didn't like wearing it. So for the next scene when she gets in the car, she took off the sweater and left it folded on her lap.
  • Trolling Creator: The Bruce Bogtrotter cake scene took so long to film that the crew wrote an infinity symbol on the call sheet times.
  • What Could Have Been:
  • Word of Saint Paul: Mara Wilson said that she felt Matilda grew up to earn several college degrees and become a librarian.

The musical

  • Dawson Casting: The older children are played by adults and they look it. It seems odd when they show up in Revolting Children. Even worse is when they equal the height of the actor playing Trunchbull, who is meant to tower over all of the children...
    • Intentionally so: to a five year old on her first day at school, the place is full of intimidating giants.
    • Also Matilda is supposedly a 5 year old, but is played by 9 - 12 year olds. Most of them are Older Than They Look. Original Matilda Kerry Ingram could pass as a young girl on her own but next to the others not so much, leading to taller, older actors cast in the parts of older children.
    • A special mention goes to Sophia Kiely who was 12 by the time she left looking nothing like her age.
    • Heather Tepe, of the Broadway production, is currently a swing for Lavender, Nigel, Amanda, Eric, Alice, and Tommy.
    • Beatrice Tulchin, Broadway's original Amanda (who is supposedly near Matilda's age), began the role at 11 1/2 and finished at 13 1/2.
    • On the 2015 National Tour, 20 year-old Megan McGuff played 10 year-old Hortensia, who is normally played by child actresses close to the character's age.

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