Mara Wilson beat all the odds. She made it out alive…and sane. She did what so many others failed to do.
Mara Wilson was a child star who didn’t go crazy. (She starred in films like “Mrs.Doubtfire” and “Matilda.”)
It seems that every other day has a new story about some crazy shit a former child star has done. Amanda Bynes was arrested for endangerment and marijuana possession. Lindsey Lohan has been in and out of jail and rehab. Mary-Kate Olson had a very public battle with anorexia. Miley Cyrus had risqué photos pop up on the internet. Even Justin Bieber has started to crack, with instances of reckless driving and customs disputes.
So why did Mara Wilson make it out when so many others didn’t?
Wilson laid out her reasons for why child actors go insane in an article posted on Cracked.com. After reading that, it’s obvious that Wilson just got very, very lucky.
Wilson starts off by blaming the parents. She says that child star parents won’t or can’t help their children. Studios tend to take control of their stars’ lives, even the adults. Parents can’t really fight them when they’re paying the kids millions. Even worse are the parents who force their kids into show business and exploit them. Wilson was one of the few who had to force her parents into letting her act.
But most of Wilson’s reasons lay the blame squarely on the industry that the children grew up in. Hollywood is not conducive to growing up. It teaches kids to expect fame and attention. It’s extremely hard to get a decent education with hectic filming schedules. And without a complete face transplant, it’s something they’re never going to escape.
“It's a constant damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation: If former child actors bring up their past, they're washed-up opportunists shilling for attention,” Wilson writes. “If they never do, they're clearly in denial. If they say it was fantastic, they're full of shit. If they acknowledge that it wasn't always fantastic, they're bitter.”
Mara Wilson’s advice to former child stars going down a bad path is to get out. And then she stresses the thing that every non-celebrity child has drilled into their brain from the moment they get into preschool.
“Child stars who are best off as adults usually do one or two projects, then get the hell out of Hollywood, at least for the next few years. They go to Harvard or Yale (or my alma mater, NYU, which has been called "Where Child Stars Come to Die") and learn to do something besides act,” Wilson said. “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.”
Sounds simple, right? So why don’t Lohan and Bynes go to college like Mara Wilson? My guess would be that legal fees are cheaper than Ivy League tuition. (And if they call right now, they’ll get their mug shot in the paper at no extra charge.)