‘Matilda’ Star Mara Wilson On Why Child Stars Go Crazy

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By: Iyana Robertson / May 29, 2013

With Amanda Bynes being the latest Hollywood former child star to go over the edge, one insider has offered their perspective on the tragic phenomena. Mara Wilson, who as a child starred in films such as Matilda and Miracle on 34th Street, wrote an article for Cracked.com entitled “7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy.” Wilson listed several reasons for wild antics that have become of child stars in her piece, including weak parental units.

“The next time a former child star is in the news, look at the age at which he or she started performing,” Wilson wrote. “Then imagine making a life-changing decision at that age. Chances are good he or she wasn’t the one who made it.”

Explaining that child stars’ parents are pivotal in keeping them on the straight and narrow, Wilson shared that acting had been her own choice. She also wrote about how dedicated her parents were to conserving normalcy in her young life. She acknowledged however, that most child stars seek rebellion because they have no control and no support systems as children.

“But when they get older, they have more freedom. They also have money and little to no experience making decisions for themselves, so their rebellions are going to be on a much larger scale,” she wrote. “The whole world will see it. And if there’s one thing the whole world loves, it’s a public breakdown.”

In her very detailed article, Wilson offered another reason why former child actors go off the deep end: they grow up and are forgotten about. And once their child stardom is gone, they miss the fame and “don’t know what else to do” according to Wilson. She offers advice to one notoriously rebellious former star in her article:

“If I were to talk to Lindsay Lohan, I’d encourage her to get the hell out of acting and into something soothing. Take up botany or something. But she wouldn’t be likely to listen to me [...] It’s because she’s been acting all her life, she has little education, and in her mind, there’s nothing else she could do.”

In the end, for Wilson, it all comes down to a simple idea. She lays it down with her advice to future child stars in the conclusion of her article.

“That’s my suggestion for kids who want to act, by the way: Make sure it’s really your choice, get out of it when it stops being fun, and get an education.”

Wilson is an NYU almunae and resides in New York City.