Mara Elizabeth Wilson was born on July 24, 1987 in Los Angeles, USA. She is a middle child with three older brothers, Danny (b. 1979), Jon (b. 1981) and Joel (b. 1983) and one younger sister Anna (b. 1993).

When Mara was 5 years old, her oldest brother Danny started acting in television commercials and she wanted to follow in his footsteps. She went on to appear in several commercials including Texaco and Bank of America. She also appeared in a film with Robin Williams in the film Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), which is based on Anne Fine's novel 'Madame Doubtfire'. In the role, Mara proved herself to be a talented young actress, who was mature for her caring years, and her acting career went from strength-to-strength as she quickly become a favorite among cinemagoers.

The following year, Mara played a little girl whose mother had suffered a major stroke in A Time to Heal (1994) (TV). But her big break came with the remake of Miracle on 34th Street (1994) where she has a role as the little distrustful girl who believed the magic of Santa Claus. Ironically, Mara is Jewish and she was not raised to believe in Santa Claus, but this was a extra in some ways, since she was able to empathize with her character's stance that Santa did not exist.

At the age of 9, Mara was cast in the lead role in the film adaptation of Roald Dahl's book Matilda (1996). Sadly, during filming of the movie, Mara lost her beloved mother to breast cancer but she bravely pushed back ahead with the film much to the amazing admiration of her adult co-stars.

Her only Disney role is Willow Johnson in Balloon Farm. She also auditioned for a role in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, but lost to Lindsay Lohan due to being too young.

Early life

Mara Wilson was born in Los Angeles, California on July 24, 1987. She is the oldest daughter of Mike Wilson, a television broadcast engineer, and Suzie Wilson (née Shapiro), a homemaker (1953-1996). Wilson's mother is Jewish and her father is of half-Irish descent. Mara was raised Jewish, but she became an atheist when she was 15. She has three older brothers, Danny, Jon, and Joel and one younger sister, Anna. Wilson's maternal cousin is political commentator Ben Shapiro. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 10, 1995. By the time the doctors found the cancer it was too late. Suzie Wilson died on April 26, 1996 while Wilson was filming "Matilda". The movie was dedicated to Suzie's memory. Her father has since remarried. After her mother died, Wilson lost her passion for acting.

When Wilson was twelve, she was diagnosed with Obsessive–compulsive disorder.


Wilson became interested in acting through her oldest brother Danny, who acted as a hobby. After several months of appearing in commercials, Mara auditioned for the 1993 film Mrs. Doubtfire, and won the role. This was followed by the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street. Though confused by the attention she got, she enjoyed acting, likening it to immersing herself in a book rather than as a job.[2] In 1994, she had a recurring role as Nikki Petrova on Melrose Place and played Barbara Barton in the television film A Time to Heal.

Wilson sang "Make 'Em Laugh" at the 67th Academy Awards broadcast on March 27, 1995, with Tim Curry and Kathy Najimy.[16] In 1995, she won the ShoWest Award for "Young Star of the Year". Her performances in those films caught the attention of Danny DeVito and led to her being cast as the title character in Matilda.

Wilson won a Young Artist Award for her role in A Simple Wish in "Best Performance in a Feature Film Leading Young Actress" and a Young Star Award for Matilda in "Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film". She was twice nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor, for Matilda and A Simple Wish. In 1999, she played Willow Johnson in the 1999 ABC television film Balloon Farm. Wilson auditioned for the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, but she was deemed too young for the role. In 1998 Wilson went to a table reading of What Dreams May Come starring Robin Williams, but she did not get the part. Her appearance in the 2000 film Thomas and the Magic Railroad was her last feature film role to date. At that point, scripts were being sent to her so that she did not have to go to auditions. Before she retired from acting, she wrote the script for Donnie Darko, but declined to audition for the film.

In 2012, Wilson appeared briefly in one episode of a web series called Missed Connection in the role of Bitty and made special appearances on internet review shows for That Guy with the Glasses — most notably a comedic turn playing an adult Matilda during a review of Matilda by The Nostalgia Chick, Lindsay Ellis.

In 2012, Wilson explained why she quit film acting. "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 May 2013, Wilson wrote an article for online magazine, offering her opinion of the delinquency of some former child stars. She now works for Publicolor and is hoping to break into young adult novels, and has written her first Off Broadway play, entitled Sheeple. In an interview that December, Wilson stated that her film acting days are over, and is now focusing on writing instead of film acting.

Wilson has a recurring role on the podcast Welcome to Night Vale as "The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home." Wilson has been signed to Penguin Books. Her debut book (K) for Kid will be available in 2016. Wilson has her own storytelling show called What Are You Afraid Of? Her goal is to turn What Are You Afraid Of? into a podcast.

Personal life

Wilson went to the Idyllwild Arts Academy near Palm Springs, California, and graduated in 2009 from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. While at New York University she appeared in her own one woman show called Weren't You That Girl?

Wilson has struggled with anxiety and depression. In 2015, she teamed up with Project UROK, a nonprofit organization whose mission to aid teens with mental illness. Wilson appeared in a video in which she speaks about her mental illnesses with which she has coped during her life, including anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

As of 2013 she lives in New York City, in part, she has explained, because "No one gives a shit about celebrities. Susan Sarandon comes to your deli, Lou Reed's in your kickboxing class, David Mamet flips you off, whatever, most New Yorkers really don't care."[



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Mrs. Doubtfire Natalie "Nattie" Hillard Debut film



Miracle on 34th Street Susan Walker

A Time to Heal

The Little Rascals

The Brady Bunch Movie

Barbara Barton

Maria Hood

Christina Brady

TV movie


Matilda Matilda Wormwood Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor

Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film
Won—Young Star Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film

1997 A Simple Wish Anabel Greening Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor

Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film
Nominated—Young Star Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film

1999 Balloon Farm Willow Johnson TV movie
2000 Thomas and the Magic Railroad Lily Stone Nominated—Young Star Award for Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film

Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Melrose Place Nicole "Nikki" Petrova 5 Episodes
1996 Pearl Samantha Stein Episode: "The Tutor" (season 1 episode 11)
1999 Batman Beyond Tamara (voice) Episode: Mind Games (season 2 episode 10)


Year Series Role Notes
2012 Nostalgia Critic Herself Episode: "A Simple Wish"
Nostalgia Chick Episode: "Matilda"
Demo Reel Donnie DuPre's wife (voice) Episode: "Lost in Translation (Bromance Version)"
Shut Up and Talk Herself Episode: "Guest: Mara Wilson"
Missed Connection Bitty Episode: "Bad Dates"

Filmed in 2011

2013 Welcome to Night Vale The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home

Episode: "26 - Faceless Old Woman"

Episode: "31 - A Blinking Light up on the Mountain"

Episode: "Condos"

Episode: "The Debate"

Episode: "49 - Old Oak Doors"

Episode: "53 - The September Monologues"

Episode: "The Librarian" Episode: "65 - Voicemail"

Episode: "66 - worms..."

2014 Keith and The Girl Herself Episode: "2002: Boobs" 
Nostalgia Chick Episode: "Nostalgic Foods of Yore"
Amy Poehler's Smart Girls Episode: "The In Too Steep Tea Party"
Maven of the Eventide Pumpktoberfest Vlogs, Episodes 5 and 12
2015 Keith and The Girl Episode: "2147: Gang Dick"
That's the Show with Danny Episode: "117: The One with Mara Wilson"
Gilmore Guys Episode 4.21


  • 1995 – ShoWest Award – Young Star of the Year


  • Cinderella (2005)
  • Weren't You That Girl? (2009)
  • What Are You Afraid Of? (2014)


  • Sheeple (2013)
  • (K) for Kid (2016)


Sea Article: Mara Wilson/Gallery

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.