Mara Wilson: Former Child Star Explains Why Other Young Actors ‘Go Crazy’

Mara Wilson is sharing her perspective on what it’s like to be a child star, shedding a little light on why so many others have crashed and burned in adulthood.

The former star of Mrs. Doubtfire, Wilson opted to step away from acting as she grew older and instead attended New York University. Wilson said she knew fame wasn’t for her and had seen the trouble that lied ahead for many former child actors.

“Not many child stars make it out of Hollywood alive or sane, and at any given time there are at least three former ones having very public breakdowns,” Wilson wrote in an article for

Her words are timely given the public struggles of former child stars like Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes. Both shared a similar early career path as Wilson, taking on starring roles before they even reached high school.

But as Mara Wilson stepped away, Lohan and Bynes have remained in the spotlight — and withered under it. Both are now beset with legal problems and struggles with addiction.

For Lohan, many people believe the problem lies with her dysfunctional parents, who may have offered the wrong kind of support.

Wilson said the decision to go into acting was her’s alone.

“I chose to start acting when I was 5,” she wrote. “It was my decision, and my parents tried their hardest to discourage me. When I insisted, they allowed me to act, but were always very protective of me. I saw many child actors who did not have that, and they were all miserable.”

Wilson noted another troubled child star seems to have little to no guidance from her parents.

“When Miley Cyrus went through a series of scandals in 2010, one involving the scarier-than-pot-but-somehow-more-legal salvia, Billy Ray Cyrus went on record saying that he had very little control over his daughter anymore,” Wilson wrote. “Her Disney entourage had long since taken over. Even if he wasn’t telling the complete truth about his role in his daughter’s scandals, it was clear that he, the parent, was not in control.”

But Wilson also notes that it’s difficult being a young star and doesn’t seem to fault the ones who fell onto the wrong path.

“Having to live up to your fan base is a little like having to deal with a million strict parents who don’t actually love you,” she wrote. “They reward you for your cuteness and cleverness, but are quick to judge and punish. And they do not want you ever to grow up. How do you react? The way any sullen teenager does: You get resentful, and as soon as you have the freedom, you act out.”

The words from Mara Wilson appear to be prophetic but unfortunately come a little too late for many from her generation of child stars.