Matilda, News, News, Mara Wilson, Danny Devito, Britney Spears

Matilda, News

Mara Wilson on 'Matilda' Anniversary, Child Stardom and Britney Spears

Wilson opened up to ET about the famous film and growing up in Hollywood as a child star.

8/3/2021 4:50:00 AM

.MaraWilson celebrates the 25th anniversary of Matilda and, TBH, we've never felt older. 😅

Wilson opened up to ET about the famous film and growing up in Hollywood as a child star.

, 25 years after the iconic film hit theaters. The now 34-year-old actress opened up to ET's Lauren Zima about the movie, her life as a child star and how she remained grounded while growing up in Hollywood. While the cast and crew were hoping the film would be a hit, they had no idea it would have the lasting impact it continues to have today.

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"I don't know if we knew. I think we hoped that it would be a hit and I think that Danny and everybody who wrote on it and worked on it hoped, you know, we really hoped that it would do something," Wilson told ET."We knew that there weren't a lot of movies like this. There weren't very many movies where intelligence is rewarded and resourcefulness is rewarded. There also weren't that many movies about little girls and especially not little girls who had inner strength, so I think that we knew that we were doing something kind of special." 

The film was ahead of its time not only for the way it rewarded a smart, little girl, but for the diverse cast of children that was seen onscreen. But despite becoming a cult classic, the movie wasn't an instant hit. In fact, it didn't do very well at the box office.

"It was not a huge hit at the time. It did all right, but it didn’t do very well," Wilson shared. "It became a hit especially with VHS and with DVD, and I have been signing VHS that people kept and DVDs that people kept for 25 years now, and that is something that is really cool. And probably the coolest thing is when people tell me they introduced their children to it, so they will say, 'My daughter loves it, my son loves it. I watch it with my kids,' and that is really cool to know that you are a part of something that is generational."

As an 8-year-old at the time, Wilson called herself lucky to work withDanny DeVitoand Rhea Pearlman, who played her father and mother in the film. The former child star referred to DeVito -- who also directed the movie -- as an"uncle" on set, telling ET that the pair really understood each other and remain in contact to this day.

"I feel like Danny and I just kind of understood each other. I don't know what it was, but I immediately felt a connection with him, and I think that he was probably a lot like a lot of the other people in my family, just full of good stories and a good sense of humor, and very talkative and outgoing, but also very considerate," she explained of her relationship with DeVito."He thought a lot about other people. He did a lot of humanitarian work and he really cared a lot about people. And you can tell, it came through. And the same was true of Rhea. She was always the consummate performer, but she had a truly wonderful heart."

Even the very scary Miss Trunchbull was a sweetheart off camera."A lot of the people onMatildawere truly like that," Wilson continued."Funnily enough, Pam Ferris, who played Miss Trunchbull, she was like that. And Beth, who played Miss Honey, she was like that too. So it felt very much like he was somebody I could talk to. He was somebody I could relate with and I felt like we understood each other, which was very nice."

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A post shared by Mara Wilson (@marawilson)While Wilson called herself lucky to have the experience of being a child star, it was her real-life family that made sure she still had her childhood."It was very important to my family that I remained a child," Wilson explained. "So, I shared a room with my sister until we were, I think I was 14 and moved houses, and finally I got my own room. I went to Girl Scouts and I went to a public school. And also, where I grew up in Burbank, California, it's actually pretty common to be a child actor. A lot of my friends had been in commercials for restaurants, or clothing and things like that. And in some ways, there was kind of a hierarchy where it was cool to be in these commercials, and was not cool to be in those commercials, and people just kind of saw it as a hobby."

"People saw it the same way that they would see, you know, T-ball or a church choir or Scouts or something like that. Like it was just kind of something you did. And kids would come out every year for pilot season and a lot of these kids were my friends. So it was actually pretty normal where I lived," she added.

DeVito and his real-life wife, Pearlman, helped a bit with that too, especially while Wilson was dealing with her mother's cancer and her eventual death."I think that it was probably the best thing that could've happened to me at that time, because it kept me away from worrying and it made me not focus on it," Wilson said of working on the film at that time."In fact, I realized later on, that they (DeVito and Pearlman) would be planning these fun weekends and things for me to do, and Danny and Rhea would take me to the theater to see a play, or to the movies or to just hang out at their house, things like that that was all usually done when my mother was in the hospital. So it really did keep me distracted and it really did keep me happy and I had a lot of people on set who really loved me and really took care of me."

Wilson's mother died four months before Matilda was released, with the film ultimately being dedicated to her."They dedicated the movie to my mother, and I'm so glad that they did that, because my mother worked so hard and she loved that movie so much,and she loved

Matildaso much, so I really loved that they did that," she said. "I felt so glad when I saw that in the credits, and I still feel happy when I see that now." Read more: Entertainment Tonight »

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