Danny DeVito looked after young 'Matilda' star when her mom had cancer

Danny DeVito looked after young 'Matilda' star when her mom had cancer

There is one person in particular, who knows about the artist's warm nature all too well: It's Mara Wilson.

Unlike the villainous character of Penguin that Danny DeVito played in Batman Returns, he is a softy. Yes, the 77-year-old has a storied career under his belt with decades of impressive performance in movies like It's Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaOne Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, and even an Emmy-winning television role in Taxi. But not many are aware of the remarkable man that DeVito is behind the camera. There is one person in particular, who knows about the artist's warm nature all too well: It's Mara Wilson. Surely you remember Mara. She was one of the biggest child stars during the late 90s', who starred in movies like Mrs. Doubtfire alongside the legendary late actor Robin Williams and of course DeVito's 1996 kids' classic Matilda.


While directing the hit Roald Dahl adaptation, DeVito showed the young woman how sweet he really was. It was something extremely thoughtful that he had done for Mara and that touched everyone. As the movie's product was underway, Mara's mother, Suzie, was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 10, 1995. Unfortunately, the prognosis was not looking too good but despite the distressing situation, Mara continued with the filming schedule as it was her mother's wish that she played the titular role in Matilda.


When DeVito and his wife Rhea Perlman learned about her situation, they took up the role of parental figures without any hesitation and guided her through the shoots as well as provided much-needed support. "I was eight years old. It was very hard," she wrote in her candid 2016 memoir Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, recalling the time. "They were very nice. 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."

"It felt very familial on that set. I was going through a hard time and I know I had hard days, but everyone on the film was so nice. Danny and Rhea were like my favorite aunt and uncle. It was wonderful," shared Mara according to CheatSheet. They're great people; they were really there for me and my family. They had a movie theatre, and we'd watch Oliver & Company and Twister and all these kids' movies." They would also invite her over for pool parties and events and Mara remembers having a blast with them.


As DeVito wrapped up the production, Suzie's health worsened and she eventually passed on April 26, 1996, at the age of 46 before the release of the film. It was Suzie who had encouraged her daughter to audition for the role, which propelled the youngster to fame. Right before the auditions for the role began, Suzie had been reading Matilda to her and thought Mara would be perfect for the incredibly strong character. But tragically, she didn't live long enough to see the final cut, or so Mara thought.

Just before her death, DeVito arranged a private screening of a rough-cut of the movie in the hospital because he felt that she should get to see her daughter's hard work. Shortly after this, she passed away knowing that her daughter did a fabulous job. It wasn't until years later that Mara learned about DeVito's sweet gesture, according to pop-culture outlet Little Things


Cover image source: IMDb

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