More than 'Matilda:' Former child star Mara Wilson visits Philly to show she’s all grown up

Mara Wilson, who, as a child, starred in "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Matilda" comes to Philly on Thursday for a storytelling event. (Courtesy photo)

You know Mara Wilson. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’ve seen her face before.

Maybe you’ve watched her telekinetically tip over a glass, or star as the adorable daughter of Danny DeVito or Robin Williams. Or maybe you’ve retweeted one of her hilarious Internet musings.

Maybe you’ve hung out with her.

Wilson falls into that intriguing category in American pop culture that we like to refer to as “former child star.” (Because one can’t remain a child forever, no?)

Her life in front of the camera in the '90s — starring in Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street and most notably as the titular character in Matilda — put her on the celebrity-buzz radar for life.

Though unlike many of her contemporaries, Wilson managed to stay out of the tabloids as she got older.

Lindsay Lohan had some blockbusters — and even a brief music career — for a bit and then fell off the deep end. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are being sued for illegally using their interns.

Mara Wilson kept it cool.

She ditched the acting lifestyle in return for a different creative outlet: storytelling. Through sharing memories both onstage and in text — she's got a book of nonfiction stories and essays due out next year, (K) for Kid — Wilson, now 28, has found a voice, and projects, in life beyond the screen. 

Coming to PhilaMOCA on Thursday for the Five Dollar Comedy presented event Fibber — where four storytellers share tales, only one has made it all up — Wilson took the time to fill us in on life’s important topics.


Since you’ll be coming to town for a storytelling event… quick: Tell us a story!

About five years ago, in the waiting room for a psychiatrist, a stranger offered me candy. I said, "I'm good, thanks." I think my parents would be proud.

What’s the biggest fib you’ve ever told?  

"I don't like the Spice Girls."

How does it feel to be an all-grown-up child star? Do you ever see yourself in those “Where are they now?” stories and get freaked out? 

I'm used to it, and usually they're nice. The only thing that bugs me is when people send me the ones that are not so nice. They have a right to say whatever they want about me or my appearance, but I don't need to hear about it. 

Are people shocked you’re not still a child? 

They are! I like to tell people I feed off their ruined childhoods.

What do you think of Goths? 

I probably would have been one in middle school, if I had been any good at applying eyeliner. Instead I got really into Weezer and show choir.

What’s on your favorite Spotify playlists? 

I love Motown and girl groups more than pretty much any other kind of music. So The Crystals, The Ronettes, The Marvelettes, Martha and The Vandellas, groups like that. 

Gotta ask, since we’re in Philly and Danny DeVito stars in 'It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia'… What’s he like?

He's wonderful! Like a fun uncle, caring and warm, with a million funny stories. Watching him on Always Sunny can be a bit disorienting.

Speaking of Philly, where are you going to be getting a cheesesteak? 

I actually don't eat beef! But I hope to have time to go to The Reading Terminal Market. Or at least a Wawa. I love visiting Philly, I always have a great time. 

Another pseudo-Philly related question. Are you team Meek Mill or team Drake? 

Honestly, I was paying more attention to Nicki Minaj take down Iggy Azalea.  

Do you have a tweet you’re particularly proud of?

So many to choose from! I am a musical theater nerd at heart, so I really love this one:  

One I wish had caught on more is "Scooters are the cicadas of children's toys." 

What are your thoughts on Lena Dunham?

I appreciate that she's spoken out about having OCD. I have it, too, and I wish more public figures would be open about it. We need to eradicate the stigma.

Do you have a favorite episode of Law and Order: SVU?​

I can't say! A lot of my actor friends have been on it, so if I name one, someone will be upset it's not theirs.


Five Dollar Comedy presents Fibber with Mara Wilson, Kitty Hailey, Zeeshan Nayeemuddin and Darryl Charles, hosted by Hillary Rea at PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th St.), 8 p.m. Thursay, Aug. 20, tickets are still available.