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Danny DeVito Looked After Young 'Matilda' Star When Her Mom Was Battling Cancer: "He Was Really There For Me And My Family"

Danny DeVito Looked After Young 'Matilda' Star When Her Mom Was Battling Cancer: "He Was Really There For Me And My Family"

While directing the hit Roald Dahl adaptation, the 77-year-old proved just how warm-hearted he really was and that he was far from his first villainous character Penguin in Batman Returns.

Danny DeVito is an incredible actor who has a storied career under his belt. For decades he has entertained us with his impressive performances in movies like Batman Returns, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, and even an Emmy-winning television role in Taxi. But today, we want to talk about Danny DeVito's life behind the camera. Unsurprisingly he's as remarkable a man as his exceptional appearances onscreen, just ask Mara Wilson. Surely you remember Mara, who was one of the biggest child stars during the late 90s', starring in movies like Mrs. Doubtfire and of course DeVito's 1996 kids' classic Matilda.



 

While directing the hit Roald Dahl adaptation, the 77-year-old proved just how warm-hearted he really was and that he was far from his first villainous character Penguin in Batman Returns. It was something that he had done for Mara that touched everyone. As production was underway, Mara's mother, Suzie, was diagnosed with breast cancer on March 10, 1995, and the prognosis was not looking good. Despite the distressing situation at home, Mara soldiered on with the filming schedule. When DeVito and his wife Rhea Perlman learned about her situation, they quickly became a parental figure for the young girl and guided her through the shoots as well as provided much-needed support. 

"I was eight years old. It was very hard," wrote Mara 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." Continuing to talk about DeVito and his wife, she shared, "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."

"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," she added.



 

As DeVito wrapped production on Matilda, Suzie's health took a drastic turn, and unfortunately, she passed away on April 26, 1996, at the age of 46 before the film was released. But before her death, DeVito felt that Mara's mom should get to see her daughter's hard work as she was the one who encouraged her daughter to audition for the role which went on to propel her to fame. Right before the auditions for the role began, Suzie had been reading Matilda to her. She wanted Mara to play Matilda as she thought she was an incredibly strong character. Thus, he arranged a private screening of a rough-cut of the movie in the hospital, and shortly after this, Suzie passed away. But Wilson only learned about DeVito's sweet gesture years later and revealed the same during an interview with pop-culture outlet Little Things.



 

Contrary to the horrible parental characters DeVito and Perlman played in the movie, they were extremely caring towards their on-screen child. But this isn't the only time, DeVito's tale of kindness has made netizens tear up. Previously, a Redditor recounted a meeting with the veteran actor when he was a teen. MisterSeeDee revealed how he was being bullied at school and that it was only the actor who understood his pain and tried to console him. "The experiences there seriously affected me and I was asking for help the entire time but I was never believed, which made me feel exceptionally isolated and alone," he wrote.



 

 

"I was being abused but my own family wouldn't take my word on it. I met a strangely familiar-sounding man with a scarf over his face. He saw that I was miserable and asked me what was wrong. I didn't have any trouble opening up about my problems at thirteen. I would blab on and on about them (the problem is that nobody really cared). So I unloaded on this poor guy. He told me that he had a very similar experience when he was younger, that he had gone to a very strict Catholic boarding school. He shared some experiences with me. He understood what I was going through completely. He told me that it would pass; that one day I would be an adult and all of these things would seem very far away," he continued. 



 

Of course, he didn't know who he was speaking to until after his wife arrived. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger commented on the post using his official Reddit account. "What an incredible story. Thank you for sharing. You're right. Danny is a good man (one of the best), and I know he will love to hear that some of his advice helped you become a great man, although I can tell you always had it in you. I'm going to send this to him so he can see it," wrote the star. People like DeVito give us hope that the world isn't such a bad place after all.

References:

https://littlethings.com/entertainment/mara-wilson-danny-devito

https://www.joe.co.uk/entertainment/danny-devito-looked-after-young-matilda-star-while-her-mum-was-gravely-ill-300655

https://www.ladbible.com/entertainment/inspirational-film-and-tv-danny-de-vito-might-be-the-nicest-guy-in-hollywood-20180620

https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/matilda-director-danny-devito-gave-mara-wilson-a-heartwarming-gift-she-discovered-years-later.html/

Cover image source: IMDb