Mara Wilson on Being a Child Star and What Happens When “You Lose That Praise”

mara-wilsonMara Wilson is happy to prove that not all child stars end up like Amanda Bynes or Lindsay Lohan.  Wilson, who starred in Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda back in the 90s, is actually a successful writer and playwright.  But she understands why most child stars have problems.

Wilson, who calls herself a ‘recovering child actor,’ remembers how hard it was to grow out of that cute phase.  “You lose that praise.  You lose what you had,” she said in an interview with NPR.  “And you are so used to it; it’s almost like a drug.  And all of a sudden it’s like withdrawal.  You just go off of it, and you feel very rejected.”

The 25-year-old started acting as more of a hobby than a career choice.  “I tried to take it seriously when I was on set and tried to be professional—as professional as a 6-year-old can be,” she said.  “But I don’t think I really wanted to be an actor.  When people asked me what I was going to do when I grow up, I always said, ‘I’m going to be a writer.  I’m going to write screenplays.  I’m going to write books.  I’m going to write plays.  That’s what I’m going to do.’”

Looking back on her child star days, Wilson acknowledges that the pressure of shooting movies was incredibly high.  “I had a moment when I was a child where I was filming a scene, and a soccer ball hit me in the chest, and I had to keep on going with the scene even though I was hurt, because I didn’t know what else to do,” she recalled.  “And as soon as they yelled cut, I started crying.  Everybody on the crew burst into applause, and that made me cry harder.  My mom said, ‘No, don’t worry, they just thought you were being professional.’  And that’s the kind of thing you have to do.”

“You’re also in this environment where you realize that, ‘Hey, I can’t really make a mistake because making a mistake is going to cost time and money, and it’s not going to help out the production.’  So you realize, or you think, rather, as a child that this is something that can’t happen: I can’t make a mistake.  I have to be perfect.  I have to get it right all the time.  And that’s not a healthy mindset for a child.”

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/carrie-coon-the-leftovers.jpg
The Leftovers’ Carrie Coon: “It’s Hollywood that lacks imagination. Actors don’t”
"Literature has always been the greatest fuel for my imagination." - Carrie Coon
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Brie-Larson.jpg
Second Guessing Yourself as an Actor? Brie Larson Does It Too
"I guess the truth is, for me, no matter what recognition I get, I think I am always going to question myself." - Brie Larson
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Jim-Broadbent-Sense-of-an-Ending.jpg
Jim Broadbent: “When the industry moved more into character roles, I was already there.”
"The system has changed now, there are more varied roles, partly because there’s so much more television and so much less theatre." - Jim Broadbent
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/stanley-tucci-feud.jpg
Stanley Tucci on Film Actors Doing Television Roles and Finding Jack Warner
"You’re a film actor, you’re a TV actor. To me, you’re an actor. Just act." - Stanley Tucci
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Bill-Nighy-1.jpg
Bill Nighy on Why He Doesn’t Watch His Own Movies: “All I see are my mistakes”
"Generally, every morning, I have to start from scratch." - Bill Nighy on Being an Actor