Mara Wilson established herself as one of the top child stars of the 1990s with roles in films such as ‘Matilda’ and ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ – but she doesn’t look back fondly on the time in her life.
Wilson, now 35, has spoken openly about feeling “sexualized” as a young child growing up in the film industry.
“I don’t think you can be a child star without lasting damage,” Wilson told The Guardian. “People don’t realize how much the constant talking to the press as a kid weighs on you.”
The “Miracle on 34th Street” alum then recalled how she started acting when she was six years old, and by the time she was seven, her fame skyrocketed.
She noted that in her early years, the media started questioning her if she knew about “kissing” and which actor she liked.
“I had people sending me inappropriate letters and posting things about me online,” she said. “I made the mistake of googling myself when I was 12 and saw things I couldn’t see.”
She also revealed that she found her face photoshopped onto adult women’s bodies and shared on porn websites.
Despite her experiences, the California native revealed that Hollywood didn’t “destroy” her and said she “always felt safe on movie sets.”
“There were definitely some vague, questionable things that sometimes happened — adults telling dirty jokes or sexually harassing people in front of me,” she added.
“For example, people who did things would ask me if it was okay if I worked overtime instead of asking my parents, but I never felt unsafe. I think that’s because I’ve worked with a lot of great directors, used to working with children.”
When Wilson reached her teens, a director asked her to wear a sports bra so she could cover her growing chest.
This eroded her self-confidence, with Wilson believing she was no longer a “cute” child star.
She had this “Hollywood idea” ingrained in her mind: When she’s not this cute, sweet kid anymore, “aren’t you pretty” and “you’re worthless.”
“Because I directly linked that to the demise of my career,” said Wilson.
“Even though I was kind of burned out on it, and Hollywood was burned out on me, it still doesn’t feel right to be rejected. For a long time I had this kind of dysmorphia about how I looked and I obsessed about it too much.
Wilson took a break from acting in 2000, but just before taking a break from cinema, she lost one of her last auditions to Kristen Stewart.
This move damaged the self-esteem of the author of “Good Girls Don’t,” telling herself, “You think, ‘I’m ugly, I’m fat.'”
“I became much more wary, more anxious and more depressed and more cynical, and when you’re like that it’s really hard to land a part because in an audition you have to be open and honest. It took a toll on me,” she admitted.