Bisexual Matilda star Mara Wilson recalls being ‘messed up’ by fan letters sent by ‘creepy old men’ as a child actor
Bisexual actor Mara Wilson, who starred in Matilda as a child, has revealed that she was sent fan letters sent by “creepy old men” when she was young.
The mental health activist and former child star featured in a new documentary, Showbiz Kids, which premiered on Sky Atlantic this week, and discussed her experience of stardom at a young age.
She told Yahoo Movies that she and her family had no idea how popular Matilda would become, and that the film’s release coincided with the early stages of her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
She said: “It was just something fun that I liked doing instead of an actual career – which is what it was. It was a life-altering commitment that I made when I was five.
“I don’t think my parents would’ve done it had they known I was going to be even remotely popular. For them it was just a fun experience. They didn’t think I’d be in newspapers or magazines.”
“I loved working on Matilda,” she added. “It was a part I loved with so many great people but my mother was ill with cancer.
“As soon as that film wrapped, I was having terrible panic attacks and obsessively washing my hands.”
Along with the “tremendous amount of pressure” that came with her fame, Wilson also revealed that unwanted attention from supposed fans “messed her up”.
She said: “I had generally good experiences in Hollywood. That changed a little bit as I got older but the worst things that happened came either through the media or by people who considered themselves fans but were making me uncomfortable.
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“The public perception messes people up. Getting fan letters from creepy old men when you’re a child – that messes you up.”
In May, the bisexual Matilda star discussed her childhood mental health problems to show that trans kids are capable of making their own choices.
In an interview with the trans charity Mermaids, Mara Wilson said: “I mean, the way that I see it, when I was 12 years old, I knew that I had a mental illness.
“I knew that I was suffering terribly from anxiety and depression, and I read some books about obsessive compulsive disorder and immediately thought, ‘This is it, this is what I have, and I want help for it.'”
Having “advocated” for her own treatment at the age of 12, she added: “I don’t know if every child can do that, I but I knew at 12 and at 13 years old that that was the best move for me.”
She noted that it’s not an exact parallel because being transgender is an identity, not a mental illness, but added: “I do think a lot of people know from a very young age that they are different, or that they are special, that they are affected in a certain way.”