Danny DeVito Had a Grand Gesture Toward “Matilda” Star That Forever Changed Her Life

5 months ago

Mara Wilson, the star who embodied Matilda, went through one of the most challenging moments in her life while filming this movie. Nevertheless, her story shows that even at our lowest, there’s always someone willing to offer us a helping hand. In Mara’s case, that special someone was the director of the film she was starring in — Danny DeVito.

Who is Mara Wilson?

On the big screen, we have seen child actors who have achieved great success over the years and are still in the industry today. But Mara Wilson is different — she was also a child actress in the 90s who knew how to conquer the public with her talent and charm. But she is no longer in show business.

She worked on important projects with the stars of the time. Some of her most famous films were Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street, and Matilda. The latter film, in which she starred, was full of memorable scenes and iconic characters like Miss Trunchbull, which made it a total success. However, despite her popularity, Mara Wilson disappeared from the screen for a long time after this project for no apparent reason.

Even before the script was written, Mara felt a close connection to Matilda.

Matilda is about a 6-year-old girl with telekinetic powers who’s an avid reader. The movie was based on a very popular children’s book, which Danny DeVito saw the potential to bring to the big screen — and he wasn’t wrong! Mara Wilson’s mother was a big fan of this story, so she was happy when her daughter was cast to star in the film.

“My whole family loved that book. My brother was reading it in his fourth-grade class and my mom would go to his classroom and read the book out loud because she had this wonderful voice and could become all the characters. Our agent called us when I was about six years old and said they had all these scripts including Matilda, so my mom had them send that one right away.”

Mara Wilson felt at ease with Danny DeVito from the moment she met him.

Danny DeVito produced and directed the film, but also acted in it. He played one of the villains of the story, Matilda’s father, who feels a great rejection of his daughter’s fascination with books. However, the relationship between the two actors was far from what it was in fiction.

According to the actress, she felt a great connection with DeVito. For her, Danny was like a member of her family: “I really felt that he was my favorite uncle.”

She got bad news during the filming of the movie.

During the filming of Matilda, Mara Wilson’s mother, Suzie, who always accompanied her to the movie set, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of that, both Danny DeVito and his wife, Rhea Perlman, who played the protagonist’s mother in the film, went to great lengths to give Mara a supportive space during the filming of the movie.

“I remember feeling, when I was part of Matilda, that it was nice because I could focus on that, and I could focus on everything good that was going on in my life. It felt very familial on that set. I was going through a hard time and I know I had hard days, but everyone in the film was so nice.”

Danny and Rhea offered to take care of Mara while her mother was in the hospital: “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 [...]. It really kept me distracted, and it really did seep me happy.” On top of that, when the young actress arrived on set, no matter what he was doing, DeVito would come over to give her a big hug before filming began.

Danny DeVito tried to make Mara happy with one last gesture.

Sadly, Suzie was unable to battle her cancer and passed away shortly after the filming of the movie ended. Mara was devastated, and it pained her that her mother had not been able to see the film they had both put so much effort into.

Years later, she learned that Danny, without anyone knowing, had visited her mom at the hospital and had improvised a movie theater to show her the rough cut so that she could see her daughter playing that magical character. The actress only found out about that significant gesture years later, for which she still feels very grateful.

But the most important thing for Mara was when she discovered during the premiere that they had dedicated the movie to Suzie Wilson. The actress is still grateful for that now: “I was so happy when I saw that in the credits [...]. It meant a lot to me.”

Mara Wilson would work on any project that included the cast of the film.

More than 20 years have passed since the film was released, and all the actors look different now. When it came to making Matilda 2, Mara confessed that she was so fond of Danny DeVito and the rest of the cast that she wouldn’t hesitate to do it just to be all together again.

And even if there’s not much chance of that happening, the story still remains popular, so there are even new versions with their own imprint.


Related Reads