Child Star Mara Wilson: Why I Quit Film Acting

Entertainment Apr. 17, 2012 AT 1:45PM
Mara Wilson. Mara Wilson. Credit: TRISTAR PICTURES/Everett Collection; Facebook

As a child actress, Mara Wilson captivated audiences in family-friendly films like Matilda, Miracle on 34th Street and Mrs. Doubtfire. After 2000's Thomas & the Magic Railroad, however, Wilson left showbiz behind -- without much explanation.

Wilson, who studied art at New York University and now works as a playwright, finally addressed her early retirement in a March blog post.

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"Imagine that when you were a child, you liked to finger-paint. It was a fun pastime, but it came easily to you, so you never took much pride in it. Regardless, you got a reputation for your finger-painting. Now imagine that, 15 to 29 years later, people are coming up to you and telling you that they have your finger-paintings up on their walls and that your finger-paints changed your life. It's flattering, but you haven't finger-painted in years, and it seems like something you did a long, long time ago. You've realized you don't particularly enjoy getting your hands dirty and that there are other outlets for your creative urges. But people are adamant: 'Are you going to finger-paint again? When? Wait, you're not? Why not?' That's what it feels like."

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Though Wilson still hears from her fans on Facebook and Twitter "nearly every day," she doesn't miss being in movies. "Film acting is not very fun," she writes. "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 adds: "Film can be exciting, but more often, it's tedious. 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."

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Wilson goes on to say that "there are many much more talented, much more conventionally attractive actresses out there who are taking the roles I would have been offered," like Anna Kendrick, 26, Ellen Page, 25, and Jennifer Lawrence, 21.

The former child star then reiterates that she doesn't "have any plans to pursue film acting. It's not my 'thing' anymore, if it ever was. Yes, I do still act [on stage] sometimes. But when I do, it's with people I know and trust, people who respect me as a person and appreciate what I have to offer."

With no desire to ever return to the spotlight, Wilson adds: "And no, you will never see me on Dancing With the Stars. Sorry."

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