Mara Wilson has been out of the spotlight for some time, until now.
The actress, known for her roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, made her return to acting with a small (but significant) cameo in Wednesday’s Broad City.
Wilson, 28, portrayed the waitress at the restaurant where Abbi runs between Ilana’s parents’ anniversary dinner and a secret date with Trey. Of course, that scene paid tribute to the one made famous by Robin Williams in the 1993 comedy which Wilson starred in when she was age 6.
And fun fact: the cameo was actually all Wilson’s idea!
Although she was a tad late to the Broad City bandwagon, the former child star was instantly hooked. “I procrastinated watching Broad City, and when I finally did about a year ago, I was like, ‘Holy s—, this show is amazing.’ I had friends in common with Ilana [Glazer] and we’d met briefly at NYU,” Wilson explained to Brokelyn.
“I followed Abbi [Jacobson] on Twitter, and she sent me a message saying, ‘That’s really weird that you followed me today, because we are working on an episode right now that s an homage to Mrs. Doubtfire.'”
Wilson, who no longer works in front of the camera, wanted distance herself from the ’90s roles that catapulted her to fame, later becoming a writer and performer in the New York theater and storytelling shows, in addition to some voiceover work. However, she wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to work with Glazer and Jacobson.
“I felt emboldened a few days later, I think it was after a glass of wine, and I said, ‘You know, if you want me to make a cameo or something on this, I totally would. I don’t act much, I don’t really like film or TV acting, but this would be really fun and I have a lot of respect for you two,'” she told the blog. “They were like, ‘Totally, we’d love to have you on.’ They were both really excited. Ilana sent me a ‘Yes, yes kween!’ email.”
But Wilson admitted she’s still learning to accept that she’ll be remembered by many as “the girl from Matilda” or Natalie Hillard.
“I went through a very long phase of trying to distance myself from it. It was kind of a prolonged adolescence I would say, where I wanted to assert myself, I wanted to be an adult, and I didn’t want to be associated with that image anymore,” Wilson revealed. “But I’m always going to be associated with that image, and I might not want to be reduced to that image, but I’m always going to be associated with it. So I’m working on embracing it.”
Adding, “There’s a line between pushing yourself away from it and using it to an absurd degree, and sort of riding off the accomplishments you had 20 years ago. I’m trying to walk that line. But this was a movie that did do a lot for me, and it was an homage to a really funny scene and it was done by people who I liked and respected creatively.”
While the Broad City bit part brought back nostalgic feelings, it also reminded Wilson of Williams’ death. “I think that Robin dying was another thing that made me realize that I’d been pushing myself away from my past and not embracing it. I’m not gonna be the kind of person who goes to a restaurant and says, “Don’t you know who I am? I was that little girl in that movie.” That’s not me,” she said.
“I still get shy about it when people ask me, but I think that it’s something I realize I do have such fond memories of. It didn’t feel heart-wrenching or difficult to be there. It was a pleasant experience, and a nostalgic one.”