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Mara Wilson Writes Stuff
April 17, 2012 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Mara Wilson, child star of Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street, and Matilda, no longer acts. She does, however, write a blog about girls and video games, Mormon missionaries, and the time she met Ira Glass.
posted by katemonster (62 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
It was November 1994 and our family was on a flight from London to Madrid. We had been split up all over the plane, and my brother Jon had been seated between two Mormon missionaries.

That happened to me once. I asked them if they would rather sit next to each other, instead of on either side of me, and they did. Her story is better.

I too was a child star. At least in my mother's eyes.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:45 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other day there was one of those this will make you feel old because it was from 10 years ago type posts: "This is 'Matilda', I hope this makes you feel as old as it made me feel" posts on Reddit. It was a photo of Mara Wilson as an adult. Since I was old when Matilda came out it made me feel really old. Downright ancient.

Anyway, the best part was when she showed up and commented somewhat randomly. Most of the commenters were on better behavior and were appreciative of one of their childhood favorites. Of course idiots had to ruin the moment with the predictable "show us your tits" but she shrugged it off.
posted by birdherder at 10:45 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a find! I loved the entry on the video game, Top Girl.

"Perhaps Top Girl‘s world is logical in its own illogic, like Dadaism."

haha

(Tell that to Rrose Selavy!)
posted by chapps at 10:58 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I like you conditionally"
posted by infinitewindow at 11:04 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


That Ira Glass story comes off as unnecessarily harsh and bitter, especially when she says again and again she wasn't trying to pitch a story to Ira, but then she admits that she has in fact pitched a couple stories to (and been rejected by) This American Life. Also, I would discourage anyone ever writing "Six years of art school taught me..." when trying to illicit the reader's sympathy.
posted by Corduroy at 11:33 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Although, on a more positive side note, my current house mate visited one of his good friends in New York, only to discover she was living with Mara Wilson, and he described her as hilarious.
posted by Corduroy at 11:35 PM on April 17, 2012


She's great! New addition to the mental blogroll, she can take poor old Elyse Sewell's place.

Also, I would discourage anyone ever writing "Six years of art school taught me..." when trying to illicit the reader's sympathy.


'Elicit', fyi.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:44 PM on April 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


NOT EVERYBODY WENT TO ART SCHOOL AND CAN SPEL GUD
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:09 AM on April 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


I had a spare ticket to a TAL show in Brooklyn that I couldn't attend, and so I sent a friend in my place. I was thrilled/furious that she emailed me a picture of herself with a mugging Ira Glass the next day. Famous people have bad days too, or wake up with itchy noses or whatever.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:23 AM on April 18, 2012


The Mormon part was hilarious. I spent most of my life as a devout Mormon, and we were always taught that people admire us. It takes a long time to realize, actually, they don't. :)

The always excellent "pure Mormonism" blog describes it perfectly. http://puremormonism.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/why-dont-they-like-us.html
posted by EnterTheStory at 1:55 AM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


The missionaries went nuts. One started punching Jon in the arm while the other yelled at him.

Punching him, wtf?
posted by Segundus at 2:09 AM on April 18, 2012


she can take poor old Elyse Sewell's place.

Why so poor? I only know her really from an article in Bust she wrote about trying out on a modelling TV programme but not caring how well she did, and it was amusing enough that I used to follow her LJ back in the day. What's she up to now?
posted by mippy at 3:13 AM on April 18, 2012


Anyway, the best part was when she showed up and commented somewhat randomly. Most of the commenters were on better behavior and were appreciative of one of their childhood favorites. Of course idiots had to ruin the moment with the predictable "show us your tits" but she shrugged it off.
...
Mara Wilson ‏ @MaraWritesStuff Someone with the username "GetsDatesWithRoofies" says "I'd probably date her." #ThereArePicturesOfMeOnReddit 11:15 AM - 14 Apr 12
posted by delmoi at 3:16 AM on April 18, 2012


@Segundus
>Punching him, wtf?

Mormon missionaries are largely untrained teenage males from the midwest, and have never been taught boundaries. If they would punch each other in jest the they would punch anyone who acted like a friend. They just assume that you think as they do. If you read the ex-Mormon blogs boundaries are a big issue.
posted by EnterTheStory at 3:25 AM on April 18, 2012


I'm reading her blog post on top girl, it's pretty funny. I swear We had a metafilter post about that game, or at least something really similar, but I can't find it anywhere.
posted by delmoi at 3:32 AM on April 18, 2012


Mormon missionaries are largely untrained teenage males from the midwest, and have never been taught boundaries.
posted by EnterTheStory at 6:25 AM on April 18 [+] [!]


Having grown up in Utah, I can assure you that boundaries exist. My 20 years of, uh, celibacy, can attest to that. (And Utah is in the midwest?)
posted by GamblingBlues at 3:57 AM on April 18, 2012


Fair enough - I suppose it must have been a jocular "You crazy guy!!!" kind of punch in the arm. It's just that at first sight it read as more of a "I'm gonna pound the Satan out of you, young stranger who dared to make a whimsical remark!"
posted by Segundus at 4:53 AM on April 18, 2012


Elyse Sewell

Writer/copy editor in Albuquerque.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:02 AM on April 18, 2012


I swear We had a metafilter post about that game, or at least something really similar, but I can't find it anywhere.

Well, you're not crazy. I'm remembering it now, too.
posted by indubitable at 5:05 AM on April 18, 2012


Yeah, I remember a MetaFilter thread about Top Girl too. And yeah, that's the first one I read because Top Girl is noxious and it's fun to watch people who know better play it and verbally destroy it in a cathartic rage.
posted by byanyothername at 5:07 AM on April 18, 2012


Kinda cool. I liked the Top Girl post, and I especially appreciated the name check to Caryl Churchill, because it made me want to see a production of Churchill's Top Girls. Also, I guess now I'll look for Matilda on Netflix: it's a Jane Eyre/Middlemarch thing? A genius girl with (wait, what? psychic powers?) who is misunderstood by all?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:12 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and I remember this random detail: That it had been translated from from a french game called "La Bimbette", except doing a google search for ' "La Bimbette" "top girl" ' doesn't come up with any hits. So I wonder if this is a clone of the game we discussed.

Also this screenshot was hilarious.
posted by delmoi at 5:13 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Matilda is a pretty good movie made from a better book by Roald Dahl. Also the name of one of my cats (after the book).

(I admit I sort of want to try Top Girl now, out of morbid curiosity.)
posted by jeather at 5:26 AM on April 18, 2012


Was the previous "top girl" post this one?
posted by BigCalm at 5:27 AM on April 18, 2012


@GamblingBlues
>And Utah is in the midwest?
I live in Scotland. Midwest is anything between New York and Alaska.
posted by EnterTheStory at 5:34 AM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Talk about the perfect counterpoint to the "kids who grow up under Hollywood's bright lights all end up with no clue since nobody ever tells them they're wrong" point that the Shia Labeouf post strongly made yesterday.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:37 AM on April 18, 2012


I live in Scotland Manhattan. Midwest is anything between New York and Alaska. Don't feel bad, lots of folks make that same mistake.

Also, like the only other Mara I've known, she seems pretty mellow and awesome.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:47 AM on April 18, 2012


live in Scotland. Midwest is anything between New York and Alaska.


Canada?
posted by svenni at 5:51 AM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Elyse Sewell = Writer/copy editor in Albuquerque.

Interesting! I wondered about her from time to time, whether she was still modeling or she had gone with her original plan of becoming a doctor.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:13 AM on April 18, 2012


Oh gosh, I've had brunch with her! She's charming (as you would guess from the blog.)
posted by escabeche at 6:16 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


That Ira Glass story comes off as unnecessarily harsh and bitter, especially when she says again and again she wasn't trying to pitch a story to Ira, but then she admits that she has in fact pitched a couple stories to (and been rejected by) This American Life.

Oh, I don't know. I think it's fair to point out that she wasn't trying to do it then, even if she was doing it at another time using the proper channels. I've never directly hit on a coworker in the office, but I have asked one out after we got randomly matched up on a dating site. Same-ish.
posted by psoas at 6:16 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was LITERALLY wondering about her the other day. My daughter is reading "Matilda", so we watched the movie. I jumped to IMDB to find out if Mara Wilson was still acting. Thanks for this.
posted by ColdChef at 6:34 AM on April 18, 2012


Why isn't this young lady out developing sordid habits like a normal ex-child star?
posted by jonmc at 6:34 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mormon missionaries are largely untrained teenage males from the midwest

I'm afraid your stereotyping has gotten the better of you on this one. Here are two maps showing percentage of mormon population in the US, one from 2001, the other from 2007. Colors toward the blue end of the spectrum show higher percentage. The midwest scores toward the bottom of the scale in both of them.
posted by hippybear at 6:38 AM on April 18, 2012


I don't want to make a derail but EnterTheStory's link above reveals a fascinating if inadvertent look into the thoughts of someone trying to reconcile their faith in their church with their personal belief in unconditional love and acceptance. I highly recommend reading it.
posted by Scientist at 6:56 AM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Top Girl post does a good job of encapsulating that whole genre.
posted by codacorolla at 7:00 AM on April 18, 2012


(If you do read it, I also highly recommend doing so with a compassionate and humane mindset and then not coming back to this thread afterward to bag on Mormonism. I thought it was a really interesting read, but I'm really not trying to make this thread All About Mormons.)
posted by Scientist at 7:01 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mara would have difficulty with MetaFilter:

Sarcasm and snark are not substitutes for wit. Think of snark like salt: it can add flavor, but should be used sparingly. For every Dorothy Parker there are a million YouTube commenters.
posted by ColdChef at 7:03 AM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


HA!

Being offensive is also not a substitute for being funny. Yes, George Carlin said things that were offensive, but they were couched with brilliant observations and social commentary. You are probably not George Carlin. (If you are, hi, George! Everyone thinks you are dead.)
posted by ColdChef at 7:04 AM on April 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


My favourite part was learning that she has a "You’re Being Pretentious” jar. Maybe metafilter would benefit from instituting one of those? Even though is probably wind up spending a fortune on it.
posted by talitha_kumi at 7:10 AM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


She's a nerd and that makes me really happy.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:17 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I don't know. I think it's fair to point out that she wasn't trying to do it then, even if she was doing it at another time using the proper channels. I've never directly hit on a coworker in the office, but I have asked one out after we got randomly matched up on a dating site. Same-ish.
She made it sound like she was interpreting a conversation he was having, although she "waited for a lull" or something.

And she got offended because he didn't treat her the way her dad told her to treat fans when she was growing up. But Ira Glass is a lot more famous then she is now, or even was at the time. She also said that Ira Glass wasn't "nine years old" anymore which implied that he was being immature by not "accepting her complement" which apparently took the form of interrupting his conversation.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I decide that my character will be tan because I want her to have all the opportunities I never had. For hair, I choose “Blue Black” because it’s an interesting name for a hair color, and an “Emo Girl Poof” hairstyle because my heart breaks for the hundreds of preteen boys in England who are called that on a regular basis."

This is completely enjoyable, and satisfies something in me that I didn't even know was there.
posted by redsparkler at 8:36 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


She still does a bit of (very loud) acting.
posted by ColdChef at 8:44 AM on April 18, 2012


Oh man. I kind of hated the movie (I was a book snob, even as a child) but my school library's copy of Matilda was the movie tie-in edition, which had the movie poster on the cover but the original art on the inside. I loved this book and carried it around as often as possible.

So when I think of Matilda, I see Mara Wilson's face forever morphing into and out of a Quentin Blake line drawing.

This makes reading her blog a pretty trippy experience.
posted by AmandaA at 8:57 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a way to get a feed of her blog that I am somehow completely missing because I don't know how to work the internets?
posted by stoneweaver at 9:09 AM on April 18, 2012


Try this:

http://marawilsonwritesstuff.com/feed/
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:36 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


And that’s when it hits me, the one brilliant thing about this game: there is something in it for everyone. Everyone who plays it would find something in it that they hate.

Feminists would hate it. “Men’s Rights Activists” would hate it. Parents already hate it. Left-wingers would hate the consumerism and the objectification of women; right-wingers would hate the sexualization of young girls. Economists, as I’ve said above, would be baffled. Grammar enthusiasts would be appalled at its many punctuation and spelling errors. Models would hate that it makes modeling look easier and less cutthroat than it is. Fashion designers and artists would hate it for all the mismatched, misguided styling choices. My father would hate this game and Caryl Churchill would hate this game. Israelis and Palestinians would hate this game. We would all be united by our hatred of this, the most useless, uninteresting, universally offensive game known to humanity.


Oh, I'm beaming. What a nice surprise Mara's blog is. katemonster, you did a good thing, here.
posted by bakerina at 10:20 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Caring for children means not letting them get away with all you got away with.

I'm not so sure about this one. That and the moratorium on shots. Everything else was OK.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:34 AM on April 18, 2012


But yeah, too pedantic and annoying (and almost snarky) for me.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:37 AM on April 18, 2012


The Top Girl review is gold.

However, despite her modesty she wasn't mildly famous for a while. She was briefly very famous.

There is a difference.

She's a good writer.
posted by Bonzai at 11:05 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not surprising she can write thoughtful essays. Child actors generally are brainy. That's why Hollywood recruits them. They like the kids who can bear with a Hollywood work schedule.
posted by ocschwar at 11:16 AM on April 18, 2012


I had a profound, irrational hatred for Mara Wilson when I was a child. I found her portrayal of young intelligent girls cloying and saccharine. And as a gender-bending kid, I especially resented what I perceived as a Hollywood mandate to aspire to her frilly feminine cuteness. Not her fault, I suppose, but I blamed her nonetheless.

So it's quite a pleasant surprise to find out she turned out to be a kickass feminist and a talented writer.
posted by Lieber Frau at 11:37 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


She is an awesome writer and I totally enjoyed reading this. Especially the gaming article, which was on point, disturbing, and hilarious. Good for her for turning out cool, and realizing that filming is boring and fuck it. (Stage always looked far more interesting to me too.)

It is eerie how she came out looking like a taller version of her kid self, though. A lot of child stars, particularly the dudes, tend to come out looking drastically different. No wonder she still gets recognized. That part reminded me of Stephen Fry saying that sometimes you have a "bad fame day."
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:24 PM on April 18, 2012


Being offensive is also not a substitute for being funny. Yes, George Carlin said things that were offensive, but they were couched with brilliant observations and social commentary. You are probably not George Carlin. (If you are, hi, George! Everyone thinks you are dead.)
Oh....I like her.

Mara Wilson must be an attempt by the universe to restore the balance from all those child stars who turned into terrible people.
posted by schmod at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ira Glass is a lot more famous then she is now, or even was at the time

lol, dude, I think you are vastly over-estimating NPR listenership vs the worldwide audience for Mrs Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th St and Matilda. Those were some of the highest grossing movies of their respective years. Exponentially more people saw those movies than have ever listened to This American Life.
posted by smoke at 4:18 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Eh, I'd seen Mrs. Doubtfire, although I didn't think it was a good movie. But I didn't recognize her name at all.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 PM on April 18, 2012


Yes, agreed, Ira glass is not that big a deal. Unless you are the writerly type.
posted by eustatic at 9:51 PM on April 18, 2012


Ira Glass is a lot more famous then she is now, or even was at the time

Who is Ira Glass? The guy is probably famous in the US, but here in the Netherlands we do not know him. We have seen Mrs Doubtfire though, and Mathilda is one of the favorite movies of my daughters.
posted by RobHoi at 12:24 AM on April 19, 2012


RobHoi, he's the host of an insanely popular radioshow/podcast/short-lived TV show on Showtime called This American Life.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:47 AM on April 19, 2012


I've heard of him here, but via listenign to the show. I like his voice.

An American lass I met recently was really surprised that I, as an English, knew who Garrison Keillor is. He's most famous as the voice of Honda over here than his radio show though.
posted by mippy at 3:31 AM on April 20, 2012


In her post about Top Girl, she wonders about a 7 year old being allowed to play with an iPhone. Her head would probably EXPLODE if she saw my 2 year old playing with my Android phone then.
posted by antifuse at 6:26 AM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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