Mara Elizabeth Wilson (born July 24, 1987) is an American playwright and former child actor best known for her roles as Nattie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire, Matilda Wormwood in Matilda, and Susan Walker in the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.

Early life

Mara Wilson was born in Los Angeles, California on July 24, 1987. She is the daughter of Mike Wilson, a television broadcast engineer, and the late Suzie Shapiro Wilson, a homemaker. Wilson's mother was Jewish and her father is of part Irish descent. Mara was raised Jewish, and became an atheist when she was 15. She has three older brothers named Danny, Jon, and Joel and a younger sister named Anna. Wilson's cousin is political commentator Ben Shapiro. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 10, 1995, and died on April 26, 1996 while Mara was filming "Matilda". The movie was dedicated to Suzie's memory.


Wilson became interested in acting after watching her oldest brother Danny act. Mara's parents refused to let her act, but they eventually reluctantly agreed to let her go into acting. After acting in commercials for Lunchables, Bank of America, Texaco, and Marshall's, Mara was invited to audition for the 1993 comedy film Mrs. Doubtfire, and won the part of Nattie Hillard. This was followed by the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street. 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 telecast on March 27, 1995, with Tim Curry and Kathy Najimy. 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 Matilda Wormwood in Matilda. She then went on to star in A Simple Wish alongside Martin Short.

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 Disney Channel television film Balloon Farm. Wilson auditioned for the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, but she was considered to be 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 major 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 got 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. As of 2013 she works for Publicolor. Her play Sheeple was produced in 2013 for the New York International Fringe Festival. In an interview that December, Wilson stated that her film acting days are over, and that she is instead 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 Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame 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. In 2016, Wilson made a brief return to television by appearing as a waitress on an episode of Broad City. She also voiced Jill Pill in season 3 of Bojack Horseman.

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?

When Wilson was 12, she was diagnosed with obsessive–compulsive disorder. 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 talks about the mental illnesses she has experienced, including anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

As of 2013, she lives in Queens, New York and is involved with New York storytelling and comedy.

In 2016, after the Orlando shootings Mara came out as bisexual.



1993Mrs. DoubtfireNatalie "Nattie" HillardDebut film
1994Miracle on 34th StreetSusan Walker
1996MatildaMatilda WormwoodNominated—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
1997A Simple WishAnabel GreeningNominated—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
2000Thomas and the Magic RailroadLily StoneNominated—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


1994Melrose PlaceNicole "Nikki" Petrova5 episodes
1994A Time to HealBarbara BartonTV movie
1996PearlSamantha SteinEpisode: "The Tutor" (Season 1, Episode 11)
1999Batman BeyondTamara (voice)Episode: "Mind Games" (Season 2, Episode 10)
1999Balloon FarmWillow JohnsonTV movie
2016Broad CityWaitressEpisode: "Burning Bridges" (Season 3, Episode 8)
2016BoJack HorsemanJill Pill (voice)4 episodes


2012Nostalgia CriticHerselfEpisode: "A Simple Wish"
Nostalgia ChickEpisode: "Matilda"
Demo ReelDonnie DuPre's wife (voice)Episode: "Lost in Translation (Bromance Version)"
Shut Up and TalkHerselfEpisode: "Guest: Mara Wilson"
Missed ConnectionBittyEpisode: "Bad Dates"
Filmed in 2011
2013Welcome to Night ValeThe Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your HomeEpisode: "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..."

2014Keith and The GirlHerselfEpisode: "2002: Boobs"
Nostalgia ChickEpisode: "Nostalgic Foods of Yore"
Amy Poehler's Smart GirlsEpisode: "The In Too Steep Tea Party"
Maven of the EventidePumpktoberfest Vlogs, Episodes 5 and 12
2015Keith and The GirlEpisode: "2147: Gang Dick"
That's the Show with DannyEpisode: "117: The One with Mara Wilson"
Gilmore GuysEpisode 4.21
2016Mouth Time with ReductressRuth HrorgenMouth Time LIVE! With Mara Wilson



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


  • Sheeple (2013)
  • Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame (September 13, 2016)