See the Kids From "Matilda" 25 Years Later
The family classic based on the Roald Dahl book is celebrating a big anniversary.
For generations, the story of Matilda Wormwood, originally told in Roald Dahl's beloved 1988 novel, has struck a chord with readers and audiences—especially kids. The 1996 movie adaptation, starring Mara Wilson as the young, bookish heroine and Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman as her neglectful parents, is still a family classic and is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary on Aug. 2. Meanwhile, Matilda's empowering adventures are still so popular that, in 2010, a musical adaptation premiered and went on to run on Broadway and in the West End for several years. And now, that musical version is in the process of being adapted into another feature film with a whole new cast, including Emma Thompson as Miss Trunchbull, that's due to premiere on Netflix in December 2022. But if you're someone who grew up with the 1996 movie, it may always be the best version in your book. And in that case, you may be curious what all the child actors from Matilda are up to today, a quarter of a century after the film came out. So to see what Wilson and her co-stars look like now, read on.
Mara Wilson: Then
Wilson was nine years old when she played Matilda, a compassionate genius with telekinetic powers. And she was already one of the biggest child actors in the world, having also starred in 1993's Mrs. Doubtfire and the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.
Sadly, her mother Suzie Wilson was diagnosed with breast cancer during filming. Over the years, Wilson has expressed gratitude to married couple DeVito (who also directed Matilda) and Perlman for spending extra time with her and including her in activities with their kids while her mom was receiving treatment. DeVito even secretly visited Wilson's mom in the hospital to show her an early cut of the movie before she passed away in April 1996. Matilda is dedicated to her.
Mara Wilson: Now
After filming Thomas and the Magic Railroad in 2000, Wilson took an 11-year hiatus from performing on-screen. She studied acting at New York University's Tisch School of Performing Arts, graduating in 2009. After school, she focused on her writing and published a memoir, Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, in 2016.
Wilson also turned to stage acting, including starring in live shows that she also wrote. In 2011, she made her return to screen acting in the short film, Missed Connection. She's taken on voiceover roles in BoJack Horseman and Big Hero 6: The Series. In 2016, she made a cameo as a waitress in a Broad City episode that paid tribute to Mrs. Doubtfire. Despite dipping her toe back into that world, however, the 34-year-old isn't interested in pursuing acting again full-time.
"There are definitely parts that I could go back to the screen for, but it wouldn't be a career for me," Wilson told Collider this past March. "It would be something fun that I was doing. It would be for fun or for money, or to work with people that I wanted to work with."
Jimmy Karz: Then
Jimmy Karz was 12 when he made his movie debut in Matilda as Bruce Bogtrotter, a Crunchem Hall student who is forced by Miss Trunchbull to eat a whole chocolate cake while she and his classmates watch. It's one of the most memorable (and triumphant, because he finishes it to spite her) scenes in the film.
Jimmy Karz: Now
In 1998, Karz acted in The Wedding Singer and an episode of ER, which are his most recent acting credits. After finishing his undergraduate degree at St. John's University, he worked as a production associate at MTV, per The DO, a magazine published by the American Osteopathic Association.
However, he ultimately realized that working in TV wasn't for him. Now 37, Karz is a doctor, having attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. In 2020, he graduated from the Department of Emergency Medicine program at Rutgers University. In his alumni survey on the program's website, he lists mango and not chocolate cake as his favorite dessert.
While Karz stopped acting years ago, he still remembers what it was like to film his big Matilda scene and what it taught him about filmmaking. "For continuity's sake, every day I had to have the chocolate painted on my face the way it was painted on the day before. I despised the smell of chocolate for a few weeks after that," he told The DO in 2015. "I realized then that acting is not easy. There's a lot of skill and professionalism involved."
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Kiami Davael: Then
Kiami Davael, then 10, Matilda's best friend Lavender, who pranks the Trunchbull by putting a newt in her water jug. As it was for Karz, Matilda was Davael's first movie role.
Kiami Davael: Now
After Matilda, Davael continued acting, making appearances in shows like Moesha, The Pretender, and In the House. She took a break from performing and graduated from the University of Kentucky, where she majored in psychology and minored in theater, in 2008. She also wrote her own short film, Reckless, which premiered in 2012.
Unlike several of her young Matilda costars, the 34-year-old is still a performer, specifically concentrating on singing and acting.
Yet, Davael is well aware that Lavender is the role that she's most associated with—and that's just fine with her. "And a lot of the time I feel like people will be curious and they do want to know where Lavender is," she told Urban Girl Magazine in 2016. "I can definitely appreciate someone being curious in my career and what I am doing."
Jacqueline Steiger: Then
Jacqueline Steiger was 10 when she played the role of Amanda Thripp, the little girl who Miss Trunchbull swings around by her long, blond pigtails. Matilda was her film debut.
Jacqueline Steiger: Now
The actor was in a few different projects after Matilda, including the series Judging Amy and the movie Beautiful. The 34-year-old notes on her official website that she eventually stopped acting to focus on school. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree in Linguistic and Anthropology and a minor in LGBT Studies. She returned to acting briefly in 2013 for the webseries Force Push, and her most recent credit is in the 2014 short, Rise of the Kitchen Appliances.
While she's not longer primarily an actor, Steiger noted to Uproxx in 2016 that she loved filming Matilda, particularly her big scene. Far from being afraid of the stunt, she was raring to go. "They had a little person to be my stunt double, and I don't think she worked a whole lot because I was really excited to do all the climbing and spinning and the stunt team was really great, all of the effects people were so accommodating and so excited that I wanted to try everything," she explained.
Kira Spencer Cook: Then
Kira Spencer Cook (credited as Kira Spencer Hesser), who was 12 years old at the time, played Hortensia. She's the older student who warns Matilda and Lavender about all the evil things that the Trunchbull has done, including trapping students in The Chokey when they misbehave. Before this film, Cook was in the 1994 short There's No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein.
Kira Spencer Cook: Now
On her website, the 37-year-old notes that once she finished Matilda, she took a break from acting. She got her Master's in Modern Literature in London and returned to show business in 2011. Cook has taken on several gigs since, with her most recent credit in the 2016 short Chickadee. She's also the host of the travel series Island Without Cars, which airs on PBS.
Brian Levinson: Then
At the age of 14, Brian Levinson played Matilda's rude older brother, Michael, who is clearly his parents' favorite child. Levinson had a handful of TV roles before that, including guest-starring in episodes of Rosanne and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Brian Levinson: Now
After Matilda, Levinson appeared in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, and that was apparently it for his acting career. Since stepping away from the business, he's kept his life very private. However, Levinson (left) still joined his castmates for the Afternoon Tea, A Matilda Reunion event in 2013.