Child stars usually tend to do two things: stay in the spotlight and burn out in a drug-infused haze of “finally legal” photoshoots or disappear back into the real world, attend college and emerge as functioning adults. Mara Wilson, the child actress famous for playing Matilda in the 1996 film, did the latter and apparently turned out really great. But maybe I’m just biased because we’re both bloggers.
In a recent post titled, “Are You Still Acting,” on her blog Mara Writes Stuff, she discusses what it’s like to be a former child actress with adoring fans. While I’d love to just copy and paste her entire blog right here, I do have professional boundaries. I would never disrespect another blogger like that. Also part of me still believes she truly has Matilda’s powers and could destroy my life. I am more of Trunchbull than a Miss Honey and I wouldn’t want to tempt her.
So instead I’ll just share my favorite part of the post with you. The part where she pulls back the curtain and reveals that film acting kind of sucks.
Here is something no real celebrity will ever tell you: 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. In terms of sheer adrenaline, film has absolutely nothing on theater. Theater is about connection with an audience, being in the moment, and living a live moment onstage. It’s thrilling and terrifying and ephemeral. It’s life. But I’m digressing. My point is that film can be exciting, but more often, it’s tedious. The celebrity aspect is nothing short of ridiculous, and auditioning is brutal and dehumanizing. Every time I see a pretty young girl on the subway reading sides for an audition, my only thought is, “Man, am I glad I’m not doing that anymore.” I never feel nostalgia, just relief.
Does it get any more real and insider-y than that? I don’t think so. On behalf of all film actors, Mara Wilson just confessed their biggest secret. It’s tedious and dehumanizing. Beyond all the celebrity is an extremely hard job that’s a lot of work and not always fun. Even if Robin Williams is in drag the whole time.
While Mara goes on to say she still plans to act in the theater and do voiceover work, she has no interest in returning to film. Nor does she have any interest at all at showing up on Dancing With The Stars.
I think even the Wormwoods would be proud of how well she turned out.