‘Matilda’ Star Mara Wilson on Why She Quit Acting in Films: “Film acting is not very fun”


mara-wilsonSome child actors grow up to become adult stars, some fall off the wagon, and some, like Drew Barrymore, go through a combination of both.  Then there are others who just, well, disappear into obscurity.

Mara Wilson was at one point a young actress who appeared in a number of major family films in the mid-1990s, including Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda, and the Miracle on 34th Street remake.  Wilson’s last acting role was in 2000’s Thomas and the Magic Railroad, but unlike other child actors Wilson hasn’t acted on screen in the last twelve years isn’t from lack of offers. 

In a post on her blog, Wilson — who is now a 24 year old playwright and recent NYU graduate –reveals that she stopped acting because she simply stopped enjoying it.

She wrote, “Here is something no real celebrity will ever tell you: film acting is not very fun. 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.  In terms of sheer adrenaline, film has absolutely nothing on theater.  Theater is about connection with an audience, being in the moment, and living a live moment onstage. It’s thrilling and terrifying and ephemeral. It’s life. But I’m digressing. My point is that film can be exciting, but more often, it’s tedious.” 

I can totally understand where she’s coming from based on her experience, but I’m not sure how much creative freedom she expected to have in big budget Hollywood films when all of her film roles came before she was a teenager.  I’ve heard from countless actors who have found the creative opportunities Wilson is extolling in low budget independent films.

Nevertheless, it seems pretty clear that Wilson has no plans to return to film acting, as she continues, “The celebrity aspect is nothing short of ridiculous, and auditioning is brutal and dehumanizing. Every time I see a pretty young girl on the subway reading sides for an audition, my only thought is, ‘Man, am I glad I’m not doing that anymore.’ I never feel nostalgia, just relief.”


  1. I tell a lot of people I teach and coach (succesful or not) – if it isn’t fun, it IS okay to quit. At least lucky Mara recognized it, was honest – and could afford to quit… and I really agree with her regarding Theater – but who can afford to do Theater? The heart really has to be in it.

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