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Former Child Star Mara Wilson: Why I Quit Acting (PHOTOS)

Posted: 04/17/2012 3:43 pm Updated: 04/18/2012 7:54 pm

Mara Wilson was a successful child actor, until she decided showbiz wasn't for her.

Wilson won our hearts playing Robin Williams' youngest daughter in the 1993 comedy "Mrs. Doubtfire," and went on to star in the 1994 remake of "Miracle on 34th Street" and the film adaptation of beloved children's book "Matilda" in 1996.

It's been 12 years since Wilson had a role on screen, and in that time she's grown up, graduated from NYU and is now a playwright. In a recent blog post, the 24-year-old explains why she gave up on stardom and why you'll never see her on "Dancing With the Stars."

"Here is something no real celebrity will ever tell you: film acting is not very fun," she wrote. "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 ... In terms of sheer adrenaline, film has absolutely nothing on theater."

Wilson says she has no plans to pursue film acting, because it's not her "thing" anymore. While she loves working in theater and has always loved voice-over work, pursuing a full-time career as a Hollywood actress simply doesn't appeal to her.

"The celebrity aspect is nothing short of ridiculous, and auditioning is brutal and dehumanizing," she explained. "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."

And while Wilson was eager to leave Hollywood behind her, she's become keenly aware of how much her old movies mean to fans.

"I’ve only recently realized that what I did as a child means to people. I get messages on my Facebook and Twitter nearly every day from people telling me that I was in their favorite movie. 'Matilda' has been name-checked by librarians and feminist bloggers alike, and I’m flattered, though the compliment does not seem to be mine to receive. I didn’t write 'Matilda' or direct the movie, I just played the part. Still, what I did was important to them. I can understand why they want me to continue acting. But interestingly enough, only about half of the people asking me 'Are you still acting?' seem to take what I want into consideration," she wrote.

In 2008, while at NYU, Wilson wrote and performed a one woman play titled "Weren't You That Girl". The show ran for three days and detailed her life and how bizarrely people treat her because of her days as a child star.

In an interview with NYULocal, Wilson recalls crowds of freshman girls knocking on her dorm room door, eager to "party with Matilda."

"I would like people to know me for who I am, especially since I think people have a very skewed image of me," she told the college website. "I was playing a lot of cute characters, a lot of little girls, I was objectified. And I don’t want people to think of me as that because it’s not who I am, and because I’ve seen a lot of hostility towards that image. It’s a version of Mara Wilson that doesn’t exist. And I’d rather be known for my accomplishments and for things that I really do take pride in, rather than known for this doll-like image I had when I was a child."

Child stars all grown up:

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  • Drew Barrymore

    First big role: 'ET' (1982) Age: 7

  • Kristen Stewart

    First big role: 'Panic Room' (2002) Age: 12

  • Jodie Foster

    First big role: 'Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: Menace On The Mountain,' (1970) Age: 8 'Taxi Driver' (1976) Age: 14

  • Dakota Fanning

    First major role: 'I Am Sam' (2001) Age: 7

  • Anna Paquin

    First big role: 'The Piano' (1993) Age: 11

  • Christina Ricci

    First big role: 'Mermaids' (1990) Age: 10

  • Fred Savage

    First big role: 'Morningstar/Eveningstar,' (1986) Age: 10 'The Wonder Years' (1988) Age: 12

  • Elijah Wood

    First big role: 'Paradise' (1991) Age: 10

  • Sean Astin

    'The Goonies' (1985) Age: 14

  • Josh Brolin

    First big role: 'The Goonies' (1985) Age: 17

  • Justin Timberlake

    First big role: 'The Mickey Mouse Club' (1989) Age: 8

  • Ryan Gosling

    First big role: 'The Mickey Mouse Club' (1989) Age: 9

  • Christina Aguilera

    First big role: 'The Mickey Mouse Club' (1989) Age: 9

  • Raven Symone

    First big role: 'The Cosby Show' (1989) Age: 4

  • Natalie Portman

    First big role: 'Leon: The Professional' (1994) Age: 14

  • Neil Patrick Harris

    First big role: 'Doogie Howser, MD' (1989) Age: 16

  • Sarah Jessica Parker

    First big role: 'Somewhere, Tomorrow' (1983) Age: 18

  • Ron Howard

    First big role: 'The Andy Griffith Show' (1960) Age:6

  • Winona Ryder

    First big role: 'Lucas' (1986) Age: 15

  • Reese Witherspoon

    First big role: 'The Man In The Moon' (1991) Age: 15

  • Scarlett Johansson

    First big role: 'Manny & Lo' (1996) Age: 12

  • Kirsten Dunst

    First big role: 'The Bonfire of the Vanities' (1990) Age:8

  • Michelle Trachtenberg

    First big role: 'All My Children' (1994) Age: 11

  • Jerry O'Connell

    First big role: 'Stand By Me' (1986) Age: 12

  • Jason Bateman

    First big role: 'Little House on the Prairie' (1981) Age: 12

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Filed by Stephanie Marcus  |