Mara Wilson, who at seven starred in Matilda, doesn’t regret leaving acting behind. In a post on her blog, she compares it to fingerpainting. It was good for a time, but not “her thing” now.
Imagine that when you were a child, you liked to finger-paint. It was a fun pastime, but it came easily to you, so you never took much pride in it. Regardless, you got a reputation for your finger-painting. Now imagine that, fifteen to twenty years later, people are coming up to you and telling you that they have your finger-paintings up on their walls and that your finger-paints changed your life. It’s flattering, but you haven’t finger-painted in years, and it seems like something you did a long, long time ago. You’ve realized you don’t particularly enjoy getting your hands dirty and that there are other outlets for your creative urges. But people are adamant: are you going to finger-paint again? When? Wait, you’re not? Why not?
She says it’s a little secret of the film world, but film acting is not as fun as theater.
Here is something no real celebrity will ever tell you: film acting is not very fun. Doing the same thing over and over again until, in the director’s eyes, you “get it right,” does not allow for very much creative freedom. The best times I had on film sets were the times the director let me express myself,* but those were rare. In terms of sheer adrenaline, film has absolutely nothing on theater. Theater is about connection with an audience, being in the moment, and living a live moment onstage. It’s thrilling and terrifying and ephemeral. It’s life. But I’m digressing. My point is that film can be exciting, but more often, it’s tedious. The celebrity aspect is nothing short of ridiculous, and auditioning is brutal and dehumanizing. Every time I see a pretty young girl on the subway reading sides for an audition, my only thought is, “Man, am I glad I’m not doing that anymore.” I never feel nostalgia, just relief.
Plus, she adds, there are plenty of good actors available for roles she would have been offered. She’s content to let them have those roles.
To paraphrase the showtune, anything I can do, Anna Kendrick or Ellen Page or Jennifer Lawrence (or any actress from the plethora of actresses waiting to be “discovered”) can do better.
Sounds like Matilda, er…Mara, has a good head on her shoulders.