Mara Wilson is a Genius
Okay guys, anyone who knows me knows that I am absolutely and thoroughly in love with Matilda. And Matilda. And “Matilda the Musical”. Unless you are Nadav, you’re sick and tired of the fact that I sing songs from the musical all the flipping time. Even if you are Nadav, you’ve probably had enough of “I’m big, you’re little. I’m right, you’re wrong. And there’s nothing you can do about it!” 
But if I actually think about it, there are some pretty distinct reasons I love each of them.
Matilda by Roald Dahl. Dahl was literally my favorite author when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure I read every single book he wrote for kids, and I know that I read Matilda a dozen times in one week in first grade. I sometimes wished my parents were mean so I could punish them; I often tried to move things with just my brainpower after I was supposed to be asleep. I still read Matilda when I’m feeling blue, or particularly excited about something, or bored, or whenever, really. My dad even bought me a first-edition hardcover a couple years ago, when I lost my beloved copy to a good friend.
When I was old enough to like watching movies (although I still don’t like watching movies as much as I enjoy reading books), I fell in love with Matilda. The scene where she dances on the table, and then goes outside and shows up the federal agents is my favorite, followed by the casual dripping of the superglue in the car shop, and Ms. Trunchbull sniffing the red ribbon stuck on the car’s antenna like some sort of hunting animal.  I went through phases where I hated the movie because it was different than the book (but had to watch it over and over again so that I could keep track of all the differences). I think my favorite part when I first watched it, though, was the fact that it was so true to my imagination. Mara Wilson as Matilda looked and behaved exactly like I had imagined her, a perfect real-world expression of the adorable stick figure drawings that accompanied so many of Dahl’s books.
I honestly don’t know if I liked Mrs. Doubtfire before or after I knew Mara Wilson was the adorable little girl in that family, but I do know that I first watched Miracle on 34th Street because Mara Wilson was in it. I love Miracle almost as much as I love Matilda, and it has become some strange tradition of mine to watch it with a pint of raspberry sorbet as soon as I get home at the start of any school break. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know. But I do know that I replay the last two minutes of the movie at least twice every time I watch because those two minutes are absolutely adorable. “A baby brother, see ya!” look at each other, look down, look at Susan, kiss (You already know I’m a romantic…)
Regardless, I’ve always loved Mara Wilson. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Matilda, and then I wanted to be Susan, and I didn’t really understand the concept of acting, so I basically just wanted to be Mara. As I got older, though, and watched the Olsen twins and Lindsay Lohan transition from childhood idols to epic failures, I have been quite impressed by what seems like a very mature decision to abandon what could have become a stressful career; Mara chose instead to leave the big screen behind and pursue things she actually enjoys, outside of the public eye. An added bonus of the fact that she left acting at a young age: I have three wonderful movies I can watch and love anytime I want. No need to ignore painful teenage acting or awkwardly failed attempts at TV spots and movies.
I never thought about how much I idolized Mara Wilson as a girl until I stumbled across her blog today. Stop now. Go read. Come back if you still like me.
Honestly though, she is brilliant. Leaving acting for writing was genius. She’s a genius. I don’t think I’ve read anything as effortlessly witty or brilliantly endearing in a long time. I have to tell you though, the FAQ page is the best. Actually hilarious. I rarely laugh out loud while reading or watching something online, but this… oh jeepers. There are exactly three websites I check regularly: BBC, NPR, and xkcd. Now, we can add in a blog: Mara Wilson’s.
She has a wonderful combination of wit and sarcasm and clear annoyance with the fact that she is still inextricably tied to her childhood acting experience. I also love the fact that her About Me page is blank – intentional or not, I enjoy the implication: get the hell out of my life. I’m sure that she’s long past being sick and tired of fans fawning over her, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am kinda fawning here…
Part of me wishes that she loved her own movies as much as I do, but I can understand the sentiment. I hate listening to recordings of myself on film or tape, and I imagine it must be similar (and way worse) for her. Another part of me wants to read every page on her blog and her book when it comes out. Because then I can idolize her for something she is proud of: her writing.
1. Okay, honestly, I don’t really use these quotes very often. Nor do I actually sing songs from “Matilda the Musical” that often, but they are constantly running through my head. One of my good friends, though, informed me that I mention Matilda at least once a day (admittedly, we spend 5+ hours a day together, and this is in college, guys!). And… that was before the musical… oops. I guess I’m an addict.
2. If you don’t get all of these references, you should really go see the movie again. And yes, these are the first three images from the movie that come to mind for me. Followed by Ms. Trunchbull spinning around on the globe, and Matilda and Ms. Honey in that strange fast-forward movements, roller skating and hula hooping in their living room.