What The Little Girl From Mrs. Doubtfire Looks Like Now

The following article includes references to mental health struggles, body dysmorphia, and sexual harassment.

Former child star Mara Wilson hit the big time in 1993 when, at just 6 years old, she starred alongside Oscar winners Robin Williams and Sally Field in the family comedy classic "Mrs. Doubtfire." She followed that with another giant hit, the 1996 film adaptation of Roald Dahl's "Matilda," but then she soured on the entertainment biz almost as quickly as she became a star. After "Matilda," Wilson had a few roles in lesser-known films and TV series before walking away from the set for a solid decade. She took up other creative outlets instead, and also began working with charitable causes. And believe it or not, she grew up! Crazy how that works, huh?

Keep reading to find out what the adorable little girl from "Mrs. Doubtfire" looks like now, as well as what she's been up to since her heart-melting performance helped us all forget that we were basically just watching Robin Williams in old lady drag.

Mara Wilson peaked early

In a 2013 blog post, Mara Wilson opened up about why she decided to quit acting after such a successful run on the big screen. "Film acting is not very fun," she wrote. "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." She went on to describe how "dehumanizing" auditions can be, as well as how inherently "ridiculous" it is to even be a celebrity in the first place. 

A few years later, Wilson expanded on her lost love for the big screen in a 2016 interview with NPR. She explained how the death of her mother, which happened when Wilson was 8 years old, combined with what she viewed as her career-peak performance in "Matilda," led to her becoming "kind of disenchanted with acting, with Hollywood." 

Wilson kept acting for a few years, however, because it was "a crutch" that helped her deal with the depression and anxiety she experienced after her mother's death — but even the sense of stability she felt from her career soon faded.

The little girl from Mrs. Doubtfire threw in the towel

On top of the aforementioned creative frustration Mara Wilson experienced with film acting, she also suffered an on-set embarrassment during her formative years with which even non-famous adolescents could identify. According to an interview with NPR, Wilson said that while starring in 2000's "Thomas and the Magic Railroad," it suddenly became clear that she could no longer pull off the child roles for which she became famous.

"I came to set one day after a few months away, and people were kind of giving each other worried looks," she said. "And I had to have the director come and sit with me and explain to me that my body was changing." That sound you just heard was a million teenage girls running upstairs and slamming their bedroom door.

Though Wilson also said, "There wasn't like one big moment where I knew I was done," we have to imagine that the one-two combination of already not feeling the biz and having to chat about your bra with your boss when you're still a pre-teen basically does the trick. Perhaps it's unsurprising that "Thomas and the Magic Railroad" was her last acting credit until 2011.

Mara Wilson went from screen actor to scribe

Although she quit acting, Mara Wilson went on to study at New York University and didn't dismiss her creative juices. Over the years, she's developed a rather fine resume as a writer. She wrote a book all about her life called "Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame." She also wrote a play and penned several articles that landed in high-profile places such as McSweeney's, the Daily Beast, and Elle.

One particular piece called "7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective)," written for Cracked, made national headlines due to Wilson's humorous, yet completely on-point rundown of why actors such as Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes struggled to find their footing as adults. "If I were to talk to Lindsay Lohan, I'd encourage her to get the hell out of acting and into something soothing," she wrote. "Take up botany or something." Wilson continued, "But she wouldn't be likely to listen to me — and not only because I'm younger and way less hot than her. It's because she's been acting all her life, she has little education, and in her mind, there's nothing else she could do."

She worked for a nonprofit

In addition to her writing, Mara Wilson occasionally does voice-over work and cameos, but for a while, she also dedicated much of her time and energy to the nonprofit organization Publicolor. According to its website, the youth development program mentors students who are at high-risk or in poverty, helps them complete their education by encouraging them via special courses, and mentors them to work towards college and the future.

It's unclear what affiliation Wilson still has, if any, with the program; however, she was still promoting it and helping to raise funds in February 2017 when she tweeted, "I worked with Publicolor for years. I love this organization so much. Please give!" Clearly, Wilson felt a strong inclination to give back to the community following her challenging experience as a young actor.

Wilson was also the keynote speaker at the 26th Annual OCD Conference in Austin, Texas in 2019. In an interview for the conference, Wilson proved just how important advocacy is to her, saying, "The world is a more open place than you'd think, and the people who love you will love you no matter what. There's no shame in having something you can't control, and there are so many people out there willing to help you. And there are so many of us out there with OCD, that you are definitely not alone!"

The Matilda Challenge was literally Matilda-approved

If you're unfamiliar with internet challenges, welcome to the world wide web! It's weird here. Anyway, challenges are an entire genre of internet video in which people participate in anything from dance crazes, to dangerous Kylie Jenner lip-based activities, to dumping ice water on their heads for charity. They can be literally anything, which is why, more than two decades after the film was released, "Matilda" became the inspiration for one such challenge in 2018. (No, we do not know why, and we would argue no earthly being does.)

Regardless of how the Matilda Challenge came to pass, Mara Wilson absolutely loved it, which is pretty much the holy grail of any celebrity-based challenge. She gave her seal of approval by sharing a video on Facebook of a young girl hilariously pretending to have telekinesis, a trick she pulled off by having several ineffectively obscured helpers tossing items around the room while she pointed at them using her "powers." Eat your heart out, George Lucas.

Matilda vs. Eleven? Mara Wilson knows who wins.

Speaking of internet things, Mara Wilson also weighed in on another web trend: memes. This one involved people pitting her character from "Matilda" against another similarly gifted character from more recent times, Eleven from "Stranger Things." According to BuzzFeed, this debate got downright technical, with one journalist weighing in on Twitter: "Folks are really saying Eleven would win and I am perplexed. She had training and still could barely wiggle a truck. Matilda's skills were sharp and precise. She had kids flying, electricity going crazy, multiple objects moving simultaneously. Eleven don't want no smoke."  

Mara Wilson took a more egalitarian approach and shut the whole conversation down by tweeting, "Matilda and Eleven would choose not to fight, and would instead become friends." Granted, that probably depends on how much attention Matilda got from Mike, but look, there's no need to send this thing right back into the weeds, right? Moving on.

She's probably not going on your podcast

Though Mara Wilson seems extremely well-versed in all things internet, podcasting was not something she embraced with abandon. In fact, according to the FAQ section of her website, she said, "The great thing about podcasts is anyone can make one. The bad thing about podcasts is anyone can make one." We're not sure when she wrote these sentiments, but she also felt at the time, "If you have a small audience, there really isn't much payoff for me. I know that sounds cruel, but think about what you do for a job, and imagine if people wanted to you to do it for free and without much recognition."

Wilson then said she really only does podcasts that she's a fan of, or ones that are favors for friends, but something must have changed somewhere along the way. A quick Google search for "Mara Wilson podcast" returns several pages of appearances she's made over the years, including one for something called "Pounded in the Butt by My Own Podcast." So yeah, that's either an extremely good friend of hers, or Wilson certainly seems to have relaxed her stance on podcasting a bit.

Mara Wilson lives with mental illness

In 2015, Mara Wilson teamed up with Project UROK to create a YouTube video discussing her experience with depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). "I wish somebody had told me that it's okay to be anxious, that you don't have to fight it," she said. "That, in fact, fighting is this thing that makes it worse, that pushing it away is really what it is; it's the fear of fear. And that it's okay to be depressed."

Over the years, Wilson has regularly spoken out about her diagnoses and has worked to become an advocate and stand up for other people living with the same conditions. She also turned her personal experiences into a comedy show called "What Are You Afraid Of?" in 2014. While it can't have been easy for the former child star to speak on such a person topic, she has continually proven that she's ready to help anyone who is living with depression, anxiety, OCD, or any other mental health condition. 

In an interview for the 26th Annual OCD Conference, which was held in Austin, Texas, in 2019, Wilson explained, "I think it's important to destigmatize OCD and fight the stereotypes about it. It's not a personality quirk or type, it's a debilitating illness. There needs to be more understanding of what it actually is! I also want to help ensure that everyone who needs help for OCD can get it, regardless of where or who they are." Whatever she might be dealing with personally, Wilson is intent on helping others, which is simply great.

She addressed her sexuality on Twitter

Mara Wilson's sexuality became a hot topic in June 2016 when she tweeted, "I *used* to identify as mostly straight. I've embraced the Bi/Queer label lately." It was part of a series of tweets that Wilson decided to share in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando that claimed the lives of more than 50 people at the LGBTQ+ Pulse nightclub, according to People.  

Though she was open with her followers, even sharing the above photo of her 18-year-old self hanging out at a gay club, Wilson decided to press pause on the conversation for a while, tweeting, "I think I'm going to stay off Twitter for a few days. I had no idea this would be such a thing, but I guess it's flattering."

In September 2017, she returned to the topic in an interview with Ariel Goldberg in which she said the reason that she came out was to "show solidarity with her community," and that she'd like to see bisexuality de-stigmatized, particularly within the entertainment world. Wilson summed up her feelings by saying that embracing someone's sexuality is a simple matter of respect. "You don't need to understand something completely to be okay with it," she said.

The little girl from Matilda did a cameo for Broad City

Although Mara Wilson has backed away from acting and explained her reasons for doing so multiple times, she still agreed to appear in a cameo in a 2016 episode of "Broad City" that paid homage to "Mrs. Doubtfire." How did that come about?

According to an interview with Brokelyn, "Broad City" star and co-creator Abbi Jacobson told Wilson about the upcoming "Mrs. Doubtfire" homage episode after Wilson began following her on Twitter. A few days later, the typically reserved Wilson recalled, "I felt emboldened. ... I think it was after a glass of wine, and I said, 'You know, if you want me to make a cameo or something on this, I totally would. I don't act much, I don't really like film or TV acting, but this would be really fun and I have a lot of respect for you two.'" Wilson told Brokelyn of Jacobson and her co-star and co-creator Ilana Glazer, "They were like, 'Totally, we'd love to have you on.' They were both really excited. Ilana sent me a 'Yes, yes kween!' email."

Mara Wilson's dealt with social media harassment

As a writer who promotes her own work, Mara Wilson uses social media, in part, to share her projects with her fans. You really don't have to look any further than her prolific use of both Facebook and Twitter to realize that she also happens to love the medium. However, in a 2014 interview with Longreads, Wilson lamented that Twitter, her "favorite social media platform," is "not good of [sic] taking care of harassment." 

She expanded on her feelings in a 2018 piece she wrote for Elle, in which she outlined some pretty scary treatment she endured from a fellow Twitter user. "He had threatened to sexually assault me and several of my friends, kill our pets and partners, and even my friend's newborn baby," Wilson wrote. "He found phone numbers and addresses, tweeted them publicly, and reminded us that he lived in New York and could easily show up at our homes if we didn't do what he wanted."

Wilson even confessed that she "would not hesitate to leave Twitter and Facebook if there was a better alternative," but that she sticks around for the promotional benefits, the ability to crowdfund worthy causes, and the positive interactions she has with fans. "The truth is that no one actually cares about the platform," Wilson wrote. "They care about the people who use them."

She's very aware of her responsibility to her fanbase

In a June 2018 essay, Mara Wilson shared a funny anecdote about an email she got from a dude named Jason, who offered her $50,000 to attend a "retreat" at a Montreal cabin where he wanted her to pick and eat magic mushrooms with him and nine of his "long lost bros" so that she could "moderate [their] 'catching up session.'" Nope, that doesn't sound ominous at all, huh? But in spite of dismissing the email for being what it was — ludicrous on its face — Wilson offered a thoughtful explanation of why she would never do such a thing.

Wilson is extremely cognizant of her youthful fanbase, which is kind of surprising, considering anyone who loved her as the little girl from "Mrs. Doubtfire" when that film premiered would be well into adulthood by now. Regardless, Wilson wrote that she feels she has "to be discreet, to try to live as if I'm a role model." She explained, "It's not that I believe things like sex and substances are inherently immoral, I just think they are solely for grown-ups. Children should not be concerned with them: they've got enough to deal with already."

She was forced to work on her birthday as a child

Some may think that being a child actor is glamorous, but that's actually far from the truth. In 2021, Mara Wilson wrote an op-ed for The New York Times called "The Lies Hollywood Tells about Little Girls." In the article, Wilson opened up about some of the more difficult aspects of being famous at such a young age. 

"I spent my 13th birthday locked in a hotel room in Toronto," she wrote. Shockingly, Wilson wasn't given the day off to celebrate the big day, and she was even forced to work, making matters even worse. "It was July 2000, and I was on a press tour to promote the movie 'Thomas and the Magic Railroad.' I had been promised a day off for my birthday, but when I arrived from Los Angeles the night before, I learned I would be talking to reporters all day." 

Sadly, Wilson had already become accustomed to working on her birthday, revealing in the article that she turned eight while making 1996's "Matilda," and turned nine while shooting 1997's "A Simple Wish." Despite being used to having to work on her birthday, Wilson was especially disappointed, having been told she wouldn't have to work on that particular day. Even worse was the fact that Wilson was honest about her disappointment while speaking to a journalist, which led to reports that she was spoiled and ungrateful, when the truth was much sadder.

Mara Wilson relates to Britney Spears

Having grown up in the spotlight, Mara Wilson knows what it's like to feel the intense pressure of the press and the general public from a young age. As a result, she feels a kinship with Britney Spears, who was released from an oppressive conservatorship in April 2022. "The way people talked about Britney Spears was terrifying to me then, and it still is now," Wilson wrote in an article for The New York Times. "Her story is a striking example of a phenomenon I've witnessed for years: Our culture builds these girls up just to destroy them." She continued, "Fortunately people are becoming aware of what we did to Ms. Spears and starting to apologize to her. But we're still living with the scars."

Clearly, Wilson still feels betrayed by the press and the pressure she was placed under as a young woman in the entertainment industry. However, a tide finally seems to have turned, as marked by Spears' own release from a 13-year-long conservatorship. Perhaps we can all learn to be kinder to others in the world, whether they're famous or not.

She thought she was 'a loser, a failure, ugly'

While Mara Wilson found fame at an extremely young age, she didn't necessarily feel beautiful or glamorous. In a May 2023 interview with The Guardian, Wilson discussed the idea that many young stars end up ruining their careers, their downfalls perpetuated by the tabloids and the public, all of whom seem to be wishing them to fail. Rather than taking on destructive behaviors such as alcohol or drugs, Wilson instead turned the pressure inward. "I definitely had a self-destructive streak, but it took a different mode," she told The Guardian. "For me, it was a lot of hating myself and saying, like, you're a loser, you're a failure, you're ugly."

When she lost out on a role to Kristen Stewart, Wilson put even more pressure on herself, and the self-hatred reached a fever pitch. "You think, 'I'm ugly, I'm fat' — and there were actual websites and newspapers and movie reviewers saying that about me." She continued, "It got to the point where I became much more guarded, more anxious and depressed and cynical, and when you're like that, it's very hard to land a role, because in an audition, you have to be open and honest." 

Unfortunately, the pressure of working in such a public-facing industry weighed heavily on Wilson, and she thought of herself in an incredibly negative light, which must have been very difficult to handle.

Age has made the former child star reflect on her life

While Mara Wilson's childhood was far from normal, the former child actor has learned to reflect as she's gotten older. Now, with hindsight, she seemingly understands herself a lot better than she once did. "I'm at an age where I'm reflecting on a lot of my life and thinking, 'I wish I could apologize for this, I wish I could explain,'" she told The Guardian in 2023. "I never thought of myself as a people-pleaser because I thought they were laid-back happy-go-lucky types, and that's not what I was. I was more emotional, angry, easily frustrated, and overwhelmed."

Wilson has also discovered that she's not alone in looking back on her life and wondering why she acted a certain way. "This was something that a lot of people, particularly women, told me they dealt with," she told The Guardian. "They felt obliged to be the good girl." 

With age, the "Pearl" actor has started to understand why she played a certain role in her life as a young woman and can presumably make some important changes moving forward. Having lived a life in the public eye, it's impossible to know how Wilson must have felt under such insurmountable pressure. Hopefully now, she can move forward in a more honest way in which she honors her true self.

Mara Wilson lives with body dysmorphia

As well as living with OCD, Mara Wilson also found herself facing body dysmorphia, which was in part brought on by the negative press she faced as a young actor. During a 2022 appearance on the podcast "Mayim Bialik's Breakdown," Wilson explained, "Body dysmorphia's a big thing and it's something that I'm still dealing with to this day." She later continued, "I was starting to think, 'Oh, I'm ugly, I'm hideous, nobody look at me.' ... And I had people in newspapers, adults in newspapers saying that I was ugly. Saying that I was, quote, 'Odd looking.' Saying that I was not cute anymore." Reading these opinions and constantly hearing about her looks had an impact on the young star, who started to internalize some of the things being written and said about her.

During an interview with the International OCD Foundation in 2020, Wilson opened up about body dysmorphia again, detailing how it ties into her OCD diagnosis. "We are not obsessions, we are not compulsions, we are not intrusive thoughts or body dysmorphia or checking rituals," the "Balloon Farm" star explained. "What defines us is how we live our lives despite our struggles." 

Rather than focusing on the negative thoughts and challenges she faces on a daily basis, Wilson was keen to explore all aspects of her life, including the positives. While body dysmorphia still seemingly impacts her on a regular basis, Wilson has made sure she helps others dealing with the very same issues.

She hasn't made enough money to 'qualify for SAG-AFTRA healthcare'

In July 2023, Mara Wilson threw her support behind the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike — as well as the then-impending SAG-AFTRA strike — and revealed that, in spite of her success as a child star, she didn't actually qualify for SAG-AFTRA health insurance coverage. "I haven't acted much as an adult, but I WAS on a recurring character on one of the most critically acclaimed animated shows of all time, as well playing an actual Disney villain," she wrote on Twitter, referencing her character in the Disney's "Big Hero 6: The Series." "But thanks to streaming, I have never once made enough to qualify for SAG-AFTRA healthcare." 

Wilson was also not alone in detailing her own difficulties in obtaining SAG-AFTRA health insurance, with a slew of actors revealing that they, too, hadn't earned enough money to qualify for the benefit. It would seem that many successful actors also faced the same difficulties, in not being able to support themselves or access health benefits on their salaries, which in part led to members of SAG-AFTRA joining the WGA strike soon after in July 2023.

Mara Wilson always 'felt safe on film sets' as a child

While Mara Wilson's career as a child actor had its positives and negatives, she revealed in an interview with The Guardian that she "always felt safe" while working on movie sets as a young star. However, she continued, "There were definitely some sketchy, questionable things that happened at times — adults that told dirty jokes, or sexually harassed people in front of me." It's good to know that Wilson's experience as a child actor wasn't all bad though, and that she generally felt protected while she was working, even if there were some instances in which she witnessed inappropriate behavior. 

However, that doesn't mean that people didn't sometimes cross the line and expect too much of her as a child actor, as she noted that there were "people who did things like ask me if it was OK if I worked overtime, instead of asking my parents, but I never felt unsafe." She continued, "I think that's because I worked with a lot of really wonderful directors, who were used to working with children." 

It certainly sounds as though Wilson's time as a young actor in Hollywood was a double-edged sword, but thankfully, she usually felt safe, which fans of the star will be relieved to hear.

Being a child star caused 'lasting damage'

While she generally experienced a level of safety while working on film sets as a child, Mara Wilson didn't escape the entertainment industry totally unscathed. "I don't think you can be a child star without there being some kind of lasting damage," she told The Guardian, suggesting that she was still haunted by her past years later. She continued, "The thing that people assume is that Hollywood is inherently corrupt, and there's something about being on film sets that destroys you. For me, that was not necessarily true." While working on film sets didn't overtly damage her, Wilson's time in the industry most definitely left a lasting impact on the former child star.

One aspect of the "damage" that Wilson described involves being sexualized at a very young age. Being thrust into the public eye as a child was challenging for Wilson, who found that some adults didn't treat her appropriately. "I had people sending me inappropriate letters and posting things about me online," she told The Guardian. "I made the mistake of Googling myself when I was 12 and saw things that I couldn't unsee." 

Having these terrifying experiences as a child is clearly the "damage" that Wilson is talking about, and it's awful to find out that she was placed in such an uncomfortable position as a young actor. Hopefully, lessons can be learned from Wilson's experiences, so that child stars don't face the same challenges moving forward.

Mara Wilson refuses to let Hollywood define her

Having worked in the entertainment industry since the early '90s, Mara Wilson has lived most of her life in the spotlight. Despite being remembered for many of her earliest roles, in films like "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Matilda," Wilson has been blazing a new trail for herself as an adult. Most importantly, she refuses to let Hollywood define her, and instead has been embracing her uniqueness and finding a new sense of self-worth. "I don't know if they really know what to do with a short, curvy, Jewish brunette," she told The Guardian of her experience in Hollywood. "I don't want anybody telling me, 'You need to lose 30lb and get a nose job.'"

Rather than agreeing to change herself to fit Hollywood's narrow definition of stardom, Wilson has found her own personality and own sense of beauty in who she is, which is so important. "I defined myself for so long by the media's terms, by Hollywood's terms," she told The Guardian, "instead of defining myself by my own goals, my own relationships, my own life." 

Now that she has come to terms with what happened to her as a child star, Mara Wilson is living her own life on her own terms, which is so exciting to witness.

If you or anyone you know needs help with mental health or body dysmorphia, or has been a victim of sexual harassment, contact the relevant resources below:

The Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).