The 33-year-old actress has made a name for herself in family films, with Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street.
Since those heady days, Mara has rarely appeared on TV, so Today Extra viewers were stunned to see her via a video link from Los Angeles.
She spoke about her work with Danny DeVito and the late Robin Williams and getting worldwide fame as a child.
Mara said the greatest pressure she felt at this age came from movie critics, especially those who wrote negatively about her performances despite her young age at the time.
She said, “It hurt to hear adult critics say things against me. It was very unfair and very hard. There was really a lot of pressure on me, I felt, from the outside world. ”
Mara was the big star of the beloved 1996 film Matilda and she spoke fondly of working with Danny DeVito, who directed the film as well as as her father.
She described Danny as “really wonderful” and that her family took her “under their wing as a bit of a second family” as her mother, Suzie Wilson, lost her battle with breast cancer during filming.
Matilda was dedicated to Suzie, after her death shortly after the film ended.
Mara continued, “Danny and his wife, Rhea, they were letting me come over to their house.
“We had sleepovers, we went to plays, we went to movies.
“They made sure that I was also treated like a child. I played with their children, like all other children. ”
Mara made her first big screen appearance when she starred alongside Robin Williams in 1993 hit Mrs. Doubtfire.
Recalling how the late comedian was on set, Mara said, “I remember him singing show tunes to me and playing games with me. He loved to play all kinds of little jokes.
“He might be very shy one-on-one, especially with adults, but with kids he came alive because they’re the ultimate audience.
“He was just an accomplished performer who was so great when he had an audience. ”
When asked if she would ever consider her future children as an actor when she was young, Mara said she had reservations about it.
She said, “I don’t think I would, just because there are so many different variables you can’t explain. ”
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