35-Year-Old ‘Matilda’ Star Says Danny DeVito And Rhea Perlman Took Care Of Her When Mom Died


Matilda is a book by British writer Roald Dahl, published by Jonathan Cape in 1988. The story takes place in a small Buckinghamshire village, where a five-and-half-year-old, Matilda Wormwood is mistreated and neglected by her parents which leads her to get revenge by playing pranks on her family. Since published, Roald Dahl’s hugely successful children’s novel has seen many adaptations, including an audio reading by actress Kate Winslet and most notably the 1996 film directed by Danny DeVito starring Mara Wilson as Matilda.

Danny DeVito committed himself to multiple roles adapting Dahl’s novel to film. DeVito was the director, producer, narrator and played the onscreen role of Mr. Harry Wormwood, Matilda’s less than perfect father. Perhaps one of his most important contributions during filming came not from acting or directorial notes but from the compassion he showed with his onscreen wife Rhea Perlman for their fellow castmember at a time of crisis. Shortly into the filming, playing the starring role as Matilda, Mara Elizabeth Wilson just 8 years old received tragic news, her mother Suzie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Both Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito went above and beyond looking after Mara during this painful time.

Danny DeVito and Mara Wilson | NinjaJournalist

Filming Matilda – Mara, Rhea & Danny

Mara, who had been known for playing Natalie Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) and Susan Walker in Miracle on 34th Street (1994), became a huge star. But she was most famously recognized for her role as the young child in Matilda.


On March 10, 1995, while filming Matilda, Mara’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a very difficult time for the young star. On April 26, 1996, Mara’s mother succumbed to her cancer and died. The movie was released after her death and was dedicated to Suzie’s memory. After her mother died, Wilson lost some of her passion for acting. But she never lost her passion for her parents in the film, Danny Devito, and Rhea Perlman who cared for Mara during her difficult time.

Danny Devito, Mara Wilson, and Rhea Perlman | Photo: Peter Kramer/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Child Star On Set | Matilda

Grown-up child star Mara Wilson says that she will always be grateful to her movie parents from Matilda, Danny Devito, and Rhea Perlman – because they supported her when her mother lost her battle with cancer.

The real-life couple played Wilson’s onscreen and very mean parents in the 96′ critically acclaimed, box office underperformer Matilda. Both Perlman and DeVito took extra time between takes with Mara. They even went so far as to bring her along for family for trips, including her as much as possible. Sadly, her mother Suzie passed on April 26th, 1996, just a year after being diagnosed. Danny DeVito dedicated Matilda to Mara’s mother, Suzie Wilson.

Matilda | Amazon

Mara Wilson now 32 years old has had some time to reflect since her early role.  “I was eight years old. It was very hard… and they were very nice. While my mom was sick and in the hospital, they would invite me over and take care of me and get my mind off things. I felt very familial.

Mara Wilson has long since retired from her acting career. Her new passion born from a life of portraying characters came in the form of writing. She has spent much time on her writing career recently publishing a book “Where Am I Now?” that is dedicated to her mother. Her book describes a fateful meeting with her mother Suzie and Matilda Producer/director Danny DeVito. Mara is forever grateful for the chance encounter.

Matilda Behind The Scene | The Actors Speak

Mara wanted so desperately for her mother to see the film she was so proud of, but she had never had that chance, so she thought. Unbeknownst to Mara, Devito visited Suzie in the hospital and showed her the post-production tape of the film. Years after Suzie passed away, Danny told Mara about the visit to the hospital with the almost-completed film and how she allowed her to watch it. This one act of kindness gave Mara peace of mind that her mother had seen a project she’d been so proud of.

Matilda with Danny DeVito | YouTube

So that angry, mean father, Devito played in the film, was actually a man with a huge heart who played a father figure to Mara in real life, and for that, Mara will always be grateful. her

(H/T: Contact Music)

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