The former child star who played Robin Williams’ youngest daughter in Mrs Doubtfire, has written a touching tribute to her on-screen father.
Mara Wilson was just 5 years old when she starred in the hit-comedy about divorce and hadn’t spoken to Williams in a few years when she learned the news about his suicide last week.
In a post on her blog Mara Wilson Writes Stuff, the 27-year-old playwright fondly recalls her days on the Mrs Doubtfire set and how she regrets losing touch with Williams.
‘I wish we had talked more. I wish I had reached out more,’ she writes.
Mrs Doubtfire is one of Williams defining roles, in which he plays a father who cross-dresses as a nanny to get closer to his three children in the midst of a bitter divorce with his wife, played by Sally Field.
While Wilson was quite young during filming, she still remembers Williams constantly trying to entertain her and the other kids even when the cameras weren’t rolling.
‘Those hand puppets that dance alongside the genie in Aladdin’s “Friend Like Me”? That must have been his suggestion, because Robin made those in real life. He’d break them out between takes to entertain us between takes.
‘“I don’t like you,” his left hand would say to his right. “You smell like poop!” I would laugh uproariously — I was five, so poop jokes were the height of hilarity — as his right hand yelled back “Well, there’s no toilet paper at my house!”
‘When we were filming the climactic dinner party scene, he would make his carpet bag bark like a dog under the table, then order it to be quiet.
‘He seemed to know instinctively what we would find funny, and never had to resort to saying anything that was inappropriate for children. He was, after all, a father himself.’
Wilson and Williams lost touch, and she says the last time she saw him was a few years ago, when she was a freshman at NYU and she ran into him while he was filming August Rush in Washington Square Park.
‘He told me how grown up I looked and asked how I liked NYU. It was small talk, but something about the way Robin looked at me made it feel like he truly cared. This was someone for whom everything mattered,’ Wilson recalls.
Wilson says she regrets losing touch with Williams, and especially not getting to explain to him why she declined a role in the planned Mrs Doubtfire sequel.
‘I had thought maybe the next time I saw Robin I would explain myself to him, let him know that I had loved working with him but didn’t feel like we could do it again, and that being in major studio films again meant a level of scrutiny I didn’t think I could deal with.
‘I wanted to apologize and know he understood. It hurts to know I can’t,’ she says.
Wilson says news of Williams ԁеаtһ has left her shocked and sad, and that she still hasn’t been able to muster the strength to give an interview.
However, she says she’s been comforted by the outpouring of love for Williams online.
‘If you can affect someone when they’re young, you’re in their heart forever. It is remarkable how many lives Robin touched, and how many people said, just as I had, that he reminded them of their fathers,’ Wilson writes.
Young Wilson issues one of Mrs Doubtfire’s most famous lines, mimicking her father by precociously telling her mother ‘we’re his goddamn kids too’ when she picks them up from a visitation day.
Wilson says that line rings true today, for anyone who grew up watching Williams’ films.
Mara Wilson no longer acts, but lives in New York as a playwright. She also works for non-profit organization Publicolor.
In addition to Mrs Doubtfire, Wilson starred in Matilda and Miracle on 34th Street.