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Mara Wilson Shares What It Was Like Growing Up On Screen, And How She Survived

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Thanks to her starring roles in Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street, Mara Wilson was a big part of our childhoods. But it seems like she has been missing from the public eye for quite some time.

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She was incredibly talented at such a young age it's hard to believe that many people don't know where she went.

Her first movie role was Mrs. Doubtfire. Kind of crazy right? Imagine if your first job you were just plopped down in front of Robin Williams and had to try not to break while he did all the ridiculous things he was so good at?

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Just one year later she had the starring role in Miracle on 34th Street and got to help us all believe in Santa Claus.

She said that when auditioned for the part she "read [her] lines for the production team and told them [she] didn’t believe in Santa Claus, but [she] did believe in the tooth fairy and had named [hers] after Sally Field." They obviously gave her the part, probably because that is the best thing that a child could possibly say.

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But growing up on sets wasn't always easy. She starred in Matilda but while on set she found herself wishing she was older.

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She said that "When Kiami Davael, who played Matilda’s best friend, Lavender, turned nine while we were filming, she had been allowed to work for another hour a day. I couldn’t wait to work nine hours a day."

Her life got a lot more complicated when she got older; it wasn't all freedom and fun like she expected. She quickly learned that Hollywood was fickle and as she got older it was changing the way it thought about her.

Click to the next page to see how Wilson handled these changes, and to find out what she is up to now.

Mara Wilson's life changed just like all of ours did when she hit puberty. Basically your body starts freaking out and changes daily, which makes shooting movies awkward and uncomfortable.

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She explained that once on set as a 12-year-old the director of the movie had to have a discussion about sports bras with her. Wilson said that the director Britt Alcroft came to her and said "Mara, when we first started filming, you were 11, still a little girl, but now you’re a grownup 12‑year‑old... And there’s a difference, a difference in your body. We’ve noticed it when we watch the dailies. So, maybe if you could wear a sports bra…”

Could you imagine how embarrassing that would be? It's bad enough to go through that as a normal child let alone in the public eye.

Wilson had to deal with negative Hollywood reporters as she went through the most challenging years of her life. She shared one review from a website that she recalled saying "I was popping up in every movie these days because I would soon be entering “the awkward years, when she’ll be old enough to have breasts, but not old enough to show them legally”.

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That's a horrible thing to go through! Luckily Mara found a way to survive these years, and even though it meant taking a step back from the limelight it was for the best.

Mara Wilson is now 31 years old and is an amazing writer. She has a blog called Mara Wilson Writes Stuff where she often shares stories of her past and how shocking she finds it that people are so confused by her change in career.

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She put it quite eloquently by saying the following on her blog:

Imagine that when you were a child, you liked to finger-paint. It was a fun pastime, but it came easily to you, so you never took much pride in it. Regardless, you got a reputation for your finger-painting.

Now imagine that, fifteen to twenty years later, people are coming up to you and telling you that they have your finger-paintings up on their walls and that your finger-paints changed their lives.

It’s flattering, but you haven’t finger-painted in years, and it seems like something you did a long, long time ago. You’ve realized you don’t particularly enjoy getting your hands dirty and that there are other outlets for your creative urges. But people are adamant: are you going to finger-paint again? When? Wait, you’re not? Why not?

- Mara Wilson

She has even written book to better explain her life to people who are curious why she has gone in a different direction. It's called Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame.

Her life has turned out pretty excellent. It's nice to see a child star end up as such a successful and talented adult, even if they aren't still acting!

Share if you remember wishing you had Matilda's powers when you were a kid!

If you are curious what the rest of the kids from Matlida are up to now click here, or if you want to know what happened to the kids from Mrs. Doubtfire click here.