Matilda star Mara Wilson says she personally witnessed people being “sexually harassed” while she was working on set as a child.
Wilson, who starred in an array of ’90s classics before she was even 10-years-old — such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle On 34th Street, A Simple Wish, and perhaps most notably, the 1996 film Matilda — told the Guardian “I don’t think you can be a child star without there being some kind of lasting damage.”
The actress went on to recall “adults that told dirty jokes, or sexually harassed people in front of me,” and said that while she “always felt safe” on film sets, she still witnessed several “sketchy” and “questionable” occurrences.
“People who did things like ask me if it was OK if I worked overtime, instead of asking my parents, but I never felt unsafe,” she said. “I think that’s because I worked with a lot of really wonderful directors, who were used to working with children.”
“The thing that people assume is that Hollywood is inherently corrupt, and there’s something about being on film sets that destroys you. For me, that was not necessarily true. I always felt safe on film sets. There were definitely some sketchy, questionable things that happened at times,” the actress added.
Wilson also explained that her mother, Suzie Wilson, who died a few months before Matilda was released, was very protective of her on set.
“If she didn’t like the way that something was going, she would not hesitate to make her concerns known,” the actress said, adding that she was nonetheless “still sexualized” by the public.
“I was still sexualized. I had people sending me inappropriate letters and posting things about me online,” Wilson said. “I made the mistake of Googling myself when I was 12 and saw things that I couldn’t unsee,” she said.
Wilson also said that she was asked inappropriate questions by the media, saying, “people don’t realize how much constantly talking to the press as a child weighs on you.”
This is not the first time Wilson has recalled such memories.
In 2021, the actress wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, in which she stated, “People had been asking me, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ in interviews since I was 6.”
“Reporters asked me who I thought the sexiest actor was and about Hugh Grant’s arrest for soliciting a prostitute,” she added. “It was cute when 10-year-olds sent me letters saying they were in love with me. It was not when 50-year-old men did.”
“Before I even turned 12, there were images of me on foot fetish websites and photoshopped into child pornography. Every time, I felt ashamed,” Wilson said. “My sexual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public.”
Wilson is the latest star to recall sexual misconduct while being a young star.
Last year, Riverdale star Cole Sprouse said his female Disney Channel stars were “heavily sexualized” by the network when he was growing up in the industry as a child actor.
Former Disney Channel star Bella Thorne has also said that a Hollywood director sexualized her when she was only ten years old, saying he accused her of trying to “flirt” with him.
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.
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