All children of the ‘90s remember dorky and adorable child star, Mara Wilson, from her mega-hit movies Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street and Matilda. If you aren’t so fortunate to have grown up in the ‘90s, substitute your own version of the gap-toothed, precociously-smart child actor in her place and you’ll understand what Mara Wilson meant to us.
But unlike many of her peers, Wilson’s celebrity didn’t dabble out, trickled into nothingness with too much booze and too many made-for-TV movies. She just quit. It’s been twelve years since Wilson has starred in a big-budget Hollywood film. According to her recent blog post titled “Are You Still Acting?’, she doesn’t regret it for a minute.
Wilson seems to have grown out of her youthful celebrity into a 24-year-old unsure of whether or not she should call herself a writer. Like so many of my own 24-year-old friends, she titles her blog quite tentatively “Mara Wilson Writes Stuff” with the blog description “Hi. My name is Mara. Sometimes I write stuff.” It teeters so precariously between being noncommittal—which is what the writer obviously wants the reader to believe--and wanting so earnestly to be taken seriously, but not wanting anyone to know it. It’s the kind of blog that an older Wilson will probably be embarrassed to remember, the same way she’s embarrassed to remember her childhood movies.
With more self-assurance than in her blog format, Wilson tells her readers that she doesn’t regret her decision to give up acting, but instead feels a sense of relief to be finished with it. She says that despite its reputation, film acting really isn’t much fun.
Still, as my introduction would suggest, twentysomethings feel that Mara Wilson owes them something, and, according to Wilson’s blog, that something is her adult maturity into a Hollywood film actress. Apparently, as we twentysomethings struggle to mature into adults, we need to see Wilson’s teeth straight after braces and childish preciousness morphed into adult confidence. We need to see our awkward childhoods graduated into adult poise. Certainly, adult actress Wilson wouldn’t be anything but poised and classy, we tell ourselves.
But I like to remember her as a child, unmarred by adult mistakes. We don’t have to worry that Matilda will be spoilt by a paparazzi-chased Wilson flashing her panties like former child star Britney Spears once did. We don’t have to have Mrs. Doubtfire tinged by an is-she-or-isn’t-she? battle like the one involving former child star Jodie Foster.
We should grant the adult Wilson autonomy from her childhood persona, a grace that all of us should be more than willing to give and accept.