In the '90s, almost every American film with an adorable child in it would feature Mara Wilson. From Mrs Doubtfire with Robin Williams to the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street to Matilda and A Simple Wish, there was this cute little brown-haired girl with an infectious smile.
Even if you don't recognise her name, most of us will recognise her face from seeing her films on the big screen or on DVD years later.
However, not long after appearing in Thomas and the Magic Railroad in 2000, at just 13-years-old, Mara decided to give up acting and pursue other passions.
In 2012 she finally revealed why she had turned her back on showbiz in an essay she posted on her website at the time.
"Film acting is not very fun," she wrote. "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.
"My point is that film can be exciting, but more often, it’s tedious," she added in the essay. "The celebrity aspect is nothing short of ridiculous, and auditioning is brutal and dehumanizing.
"Every time I see a pretty young girl on the subway reading sides for an audition, my only thought is, 'Man, am I glad I'm not doing that anymore.' I never feel nostalgia, just relief."
Mara added when she spoke to Today Extra in 2020 that being judged by critics and reviewers as a child was hard for her. "It hurt to hear adult critics saying things against me. It felt very unfair and very hard. There was really a lot of pressure on me, I felt, from the outside world."
Mara was luckier than some child stars as Danny DeVito and his wife Rhea Perlman took her under their wing during the filming of Matilda, especially as her mother had terminal breast cancer and passed away not long after.
"Danny and his wife, Rhea, they would let me come over to their house," she told Today Extra. "They made sure I was also being treated like a kid. I played with their kids, just like any other kids."
And while she has dipped back into acting both on stage and on screen, she is a respected essayist and blogger, giving insights into the world she grew up in.
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