This "Mrs. Doubtfire" Kid Quit Hollywood 20 Years Ago. See Lisa Jakub Now.
Lisa Jakub wrote a whole book about her decision to walk away from acting after 18 years.
The 1993 family comedy Mrs. Doubtfire follows Robin Williams' character Daniel Hillard, a man so desperate to spend time with his kids amid his divorce that he transforms himself into the ideal housekeeper and nanny. Though his performance got the most attention, countless young viewers related to Lydia (Lisa Jakub), Chris (Matthew Lawrence), and Natalie (Mara Wilson), the kids who feel caught between their feuding parents. While Mrs. Doubtfire was far from Jakub's first credit, playing the oldest Hillard kid is one of her most famous roles. However, after almost two decades onscreen, she decided to leave acting behind when she was still young. To see what Jakub is doing now and to find out why she stepped away from the film industry, read on.
Jakub was discovered when she was four years old.
A four-year-old Jakub was at a Toronto farmers' market with her parents when she was approached by a representative for an advertising agency about being in a commercial. Jakub's parents agreed to allow the agency to set up an audition for her, which ultimately led to much more.
"From there, they sent me to an agent, who sent me out on more auditions," she told Vulture in 2018. "It entirely snowballed from there, and I ended up with an 18-year career."
She played her first film role when she was seven, in 1985's Eleni. She appeared in several TV shows throughout the late '80s, including The Twilight Zone, Friday the 13th: The Series, and Glory! Glory!
She was 15 when she played Lydia, the responsible and earnest daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire. She has fond memories of making the movie and remembers hitting it off with her onscreen siblings, Lawrence and Wilson, immediately.
"As soon as they put Matt and Mara and I together, all three of us just knew that we loved each other," Jakub told Vulture. "We bonded instantly. Part of that is that I am an only child and always desperate for siblings."
After Mrs. Doubtfire, Jakub spent the next seven years taking on more acting work, including a role in the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day. The 2000 film Double Frame is her most recent acting credit.
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Today, she's an author, podcast host, and yoga instructor.
The former child star may not act anymore, but Jakub has no shortage of projects. On her personal website, the 42-year-old notes that she teaches a free online yoga class for veterans every Tuesday. She's a Kripalu yoga teacher and was trained by The Veterans Yoga Project, which has a mission to support recovering vets. She also notes on her site that the classes are "beginner-friendly" and work on increasing "strength, flexibility, and the mind-body connection."
Outside of the yoga studio, Jakub also hosts her own podcast, Embrace Your Weird. She discusses topics like authenticity and anxiety and how they've impacted her own life. In her most recent episode, "Social Anxiety and the New Normal," she discusses how she feels about being social again, after being isolated for so long due to the pandemic.
She also opens up about her mental health and unusual childhood through her writing. In her first book, You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up, published in 2015, Jakub writes about her decision to leave acting behind. Her 2017 book, Not Just Me, highlights how she manages her depression and anxiety, which have been a big part of her childhood and adult years.
She left acting because she didn't like how competitive the industry was.
When Jakub was 22 years old, she chose to walk away from acting. There were aspects of the film industry that she liked, but those were overshadowed by the darker parts.
"Parts of my job were wonderful," she wrote on her blog in March 2013. "But then I got to the point where the competition and the politics and the superficial nature of the industry started to get to me. I felt like a phony who was trying to live someone else's dream. My anxiety and depression intensified."
Jakub moved to Virginia, married her husband Jeremy Jones in 2005, and focused on her writing. She also studied sociology at the University of Virginia. She wrote on her blog that she tried to "forget that [her] old life" in Hollywood ever happened. But through her blogs and books, she realized that she couldn't run away from her past.
"I've learned how to have a healthy relationship with this part of my life," she wrote. "Movies don't have to be front and center because I don't think that what I did when I was 14 years old is the most important or interesting thing about me."
She also seems to have a sense of humor about it and to understand that people who watched her movies will always be curious about what she's up to. Earlier this year, Jakub tweeted a screenshot of an article asking "Whatever Happened to the Actor Who Plays Lydia in Mrs. Doubtfire?" and wrote, "Well, ummm, I mean, a lot of stuff has happened since 1993 so you're gonna need to be more specific." In a followup tweet she wrote, "Wow, thanks for all the liking and sharing! The next question I usually get is why I quit acting after an 18 yr career. Luckily, I wrote a whole book about it."
She has a special memory of Robin Williams.
Jakub understands why audiences still love Mrs. Doubtfire, 28 years after it was first released. She noted to Vulture that it grows with its audience, and that adults get something different out of it than kids do.
"Being able to see all those different layers in a film that on its surface is just a silly little comedy is why it's had a lasting power," she said. "You can come at it from a bunch of different perspectives, and you can appreciate it, because it really is so much about how do families really interact? How do relationships really work, and how can we evolve to make it work for everybody, even if that means the parents don't end up together at the end?"
Along with the other child actors in the movie, Jakub forged a close bond with Williams, who died in 2014. Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment this past May, she shared a story about how he stood up for her when her Toronto high school decided that they would stop allowing her to work remotely with an on-set tutor. Williams wrote a letter on Jakub's behalf to convince them to reconsider. It didn't sway the powers that be, but for the young actor, it was the gesture that counted.
"But what I love about that story and what I love about Robin, it's just the fact that he would do that for someone," she explained. "And even if it didn't work, somebody needed to stand up, and he did that for me. I don't know if he ever knew how massive that was and how much I felt like he was in my corner."