Danny DeVito not only starred in Matilda, but was also the director and creative force behind it. The American actor played Harry Wormwood, Matilda’s abusive, good-for-nothing father. But behind the camera, he was in complete control of the production, but he did everything he could to care for eight-year-old Matilda actress Mara Wilson after she learned her mother had breast cancer. .
Wilson learned of his mother’s illness in March 1995. DeVito and his wife, Rhea Perlman, who was also in the film, spent the entire shoot of Matilda caring for Wilson and making sure he had the best experience possible.
Years later, Wilson explained, “I remember feeling, when I was a part of Matilda, that it was nice because I could focus on that and I could focus on all the good things that were going on in my life.”
DeVito and Perlman even offered to take Wilson home with them when his parents needed to go to the hospital. Wilson recalled, “she felt very familiar on that set.”
When things finally came to a close for Wilson’s mom, Suzie, she was understandably emotional, but DeVito had one last gift for her.
Suzie Wilson, Mara’s mother, died in April 1996.
The young actress’s mother died just a few months before Matilda hit theaters in August 1996.
But DeVito managed to pay Suzie a visit in the hospital just before she died and gave her a beautiful gift that meant a lot to Mara.
Wilson revealed in his memoirs: Where am I now? – that DeVito visited Suzie in secret and played her a rough version of Matilda.
This allowed him to see his daughter on film before he died.
READ MORE: Matilda Star Mara Wilson Now: Whatever Happened To The Matilda Star?
Despite the tragic circumstances of the filming of Matilda, Wilson had nothing but great memories of filming.
She said: “I was going through a tough time, and I know I had tough days, but everyone on the movie was so nice. Danny and Rhea were like my favorite uncles. It was wonderful. I remember feeling anxious when he finished the movie, and it was really hard to be normal again and deal with my mother’s illness.
The actress, now 34, added: “I definitely feel like having that family there, and having people willing to take care of us and help us, made it easier.”
The film would receive rave reviews, including one from Roger Ebert.
Ebert said, “Trunchbull is the kind of villain kids might enjoy, because she’s too ridiculous to take seriously, and yet she’s mean and mean, like the witch in Snow White. And since most kids in a time or another have felt that their parents are not nice enough to them, they may as well enjoy the portrait of Matilda’s parents.”
Although the Matilda story has come to an end, DeVito has hinted that he would like to direct a sequel in the future.
He stated that he would like Wilson to reprise his role and bring Matilda’s daughter into the fold.
Matilda is available to watch on Netflix.
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