It was 1996 – now 21 years ago, that the film Matilda was released.
Based on one of Roald Dahl’s most loved children’s books, Matilda explores the fantasy world of a young genius named Matilda (played by eight-year-old Mara Wilson) surrounded by adults who despise kids.
Matilda’s parents (played by Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman) are crude, distant and discouraging of her education, and so Matilda harnesses the power of telekinesis to protect herself and others.
But as horrible as DeVito and Perlman were to Wilson onscreen, behind the scenes told an entirely different story.
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During the filming of Matilda, Wilson’s mother, Suzie Wilson, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
As her mother underwent treatment, and her father took on all the family duties, DeVito and Pearlman became like surrogate parents.
Wilson writes in her book Where Am I Now?, that they would invite her on their family trips to the movies and take her to summer pool parties.
“It was very hard… and they were very nice,” Wilson writes. “While my mom was sick and in the hospital, they would invite me over and take care of me and get my mind off things. I felt very familial.