Best known for starring roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, Mara Wilson navigates personal loss, love and finding herself in her just-released memoir Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame. Head to the Brattle on Sept. 15 for a discussion with Wilson about her book at 6 pm, followed by a screening of Matilda, the 1996 classic about a gifted girl who’s not afraid to stand up for what’s good. / Jacqueline Weiss
How did you know this was the right time to write your memoir? I think there was a part of me that kind of wanted to explain what had happened because I did kind of disappear from film and TV for a few years, and Matilda was something of a cult hit, so I think people were kind of wondering where I went. It’s human nature. When people don’t understand what happened, they make up their own stories, and there was part of me that wanted to take control of my own narrative.
Was it difficult for you to revisit a lot of the struggles you discuss in your book? I think some of them I kind of felt compelled to talk about, like the idea of body image. It’s something I felt strongly about and had an opinion about, so that was definitely easier to write about. The OCD chapter was very hard to write. I broke down crying when I wrote it, because every now and then I look at things that happened to me as a child and think because they happened to me, it’s not such a big deal. Now I’m old enough, and I think if any of these things happened to the children that I worked with, or nieces and nephews, I would be heartbroken.
You seem to have come full circle in your career. How do you feel about fame now? I don’t think I’m ever going to be back in the spotlight the way that I once was, but I’m happy with that. If I never have more fans than I have right now, I’m ok with that. I want to make things and create things and curate things that people are going to find interesting and that are going to entertain, challenge and make people think.
Your passion for storytelling and feeling out of place from a young age isn’t unlike your character in Matilda. Do you see any other similarities? I never felt more like Matilda than I did when my mom died. I was just so lost and so sad, and I would lose myself in books and reading. That was definitely my escape. One thing I really liked about her, and that my mother really liked about her too, was that she was passionate about justice. She stood up for herself and she stood up for other people, and it’s something I still like about that character.
What comes next for you? I’m really happy to be writing anything, I’ve got a lot of different ideas. I guess now it’s just kind of figuring out what people find interesting or what I find interesting, and what I’m going to work on.