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'Matilda' star Mara Wilson says she was ‘sexualized’ before she was 12, was photoshopped into child pornography

'People had been asking me, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ in interviews since I was 6,' the 33-year-old said
UPDATED FEB 25, 2021
Mara Wilson wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times that got published on February 22; in Matilda (R) (Getty Images/IMDb)
Mara Wilson wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times that got published on February 22; in Matilda (R) (Getty Images/IMDb)

‘Matilda’ star Mara Wilson recently opened up about what it means to be a child star and how the media and the public “sexualizes” them. The 33-year-old wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times that got published on February 22. Wilson started her piece with a story about when she was just 13 years old and how her frankness was taken in the wrong way by the media. “It was July 2000, and I was on a press tour to promote the movie ‘Thomas and the Magic Railroad.’ I had been promised a day off for my birthday, but when I arrived from Los Angeles the night before, I learned I would be talking to reporters all day,” the writer said.

She continued, “The next morning I got up, groggy from jet lag, and put on my best Forever 21 attire. Two press coordinators checked in before I started my interview: Did I want the air off, or a soda? I said I was fine — I didn’t want to get a reputation as a complainer. But when the journalist asked how I was feeling, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I told her the truth. The next day, Canada’s newspaper of record put me on the front page of its entertainment section. The article began, ‘The interview hasn’t even begun with Mara Wilson, Child Star, and she’s complaining to her staff.’”


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In the opinion piece, Wilson also mentioned how her parents made sure she lived a life “as normal as possible — whatever it took to avoid my inevitable downfall.” The ‘A Time to Heal’ star wrote, “I shared a bedroom with my little sister. I went to public school. I was a Girl Scout. When someone called me a ‘star’ I was to insist that I was an actor, that the only stars were in the sky. But I was now 13, and I was already ruined. Just like everyone expected.”

Mara Wilson ttends the Trevor Project's TrevorLIVE LA 2018 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 3, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California (Getty Images)

The actress then went on to explain that despite all and her family's efforts, she was sexualized. “I had already been sexualized anyway, and I hated it. I mostly acted in family movies — the remake of ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘Matilda,’ ‘Mrs. Doubtfire.’ I never appeared in anything more revealing than a knee-length sundress. This was all intentional: My parents thought I would be safer that way. But it didn’t work. People had been asking me, “Do you have a boyfriend?” in interviews since I was 6. Reporters asked me who I thought the sexiest actor was and about Hugh Grant’s arrest for soliciting a prostitute. It was cute when 10-year-olds sent me letters saying they were in love with me. It was not when 50-year-old men did.”

“Before I even turned 12, there were images of me on foot fetish websites and photoshopped into child pornography. Every time, I felt ashamed. Hollywood has resolved to tackle harassment in the industry, but I was never sexually harassed on a film set. My sexual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public,” she added.

‘A Simple Wish’ star also drew comparisons between her life and Britney Spears’. She said there were many instances in her life that were similar to Spears’. “We both had dolls made of us, had close friends and boyfriends sharing our secrets and had grown men commenting on our bodies,” she stated, before mentioning the biggest difference between her and the 39-year-old’s circumstances. “But my life was easier not only because I was never tabloid-level famous, but because unlike Ms. Spears, I always had my family’s support. I knew that I had money put away for me, and it was mine. If I needed to escape the public eye, I vanished — safe at home or school.”

Author Mara Wilson attends the 9th Annual Shorty Awards at PlayStation Theater on April 23, 2017 in New York City (Getty Images)

Wilson concluded, “When the article that referred to me as a brat was published, my father was sympathetic. He reminded me to be more positive and gracious in interviews, but I could tell he also didn’t think it was fair. He knew I was more than what that journalist wrote about me. That helped me to know it too. Sometimes people ask me, ‘How did you end up OK?’ Once, someone I’d considered a friend asked, with a big smile, ‘How does it feel to know you’ve peaked?’ I didn’t know how to answer, but now I would say that’s the wrong question. I haven’t peaked, because for me, The Narrative isn’t a story someone else is writing anymore. I can write it myself.”

Several people took to Twitter to express their opinion after Wilson wrote her heart out. One such user tweeted, "The day Paris Hilton was taken to prison, every network interrupted programming to show her being taken into custody. It was the day I realized just how sick we’d become. The spectacle of a pretty, rich girl being humiliated was apparently irresistible to the media." Another one said, "This is very well written.I was just taking to my husband about how the Olson twins were treated. Men actually had a count down for when they turned 18 & everyone just joked about it like that was normal instead of some disgusting pedo shit. Always felt bad for them."



"The same thing happened with Taylor Lautner. All because he buffed up for the second Twilight movie. I remember adult women joking they'd be shamelessly going to jail. He's also the only famous boy I remember that happening to," a person added.