Mara Wilson on why former child stars "go crazy"

Mara Wilson arrives at the premiere of the movie "Thomas and The Magic Railroad" on July 22, 2000, in Los Angeles. Getty

In the wake of Amanda Bynes' recent arrest and bizarre public behavior, the previous problems of Britney Spears and the ongoing legal drama of Lindsay Lohan, former child star Mara Wilson has opened up about the perils of growing up in the spotlight.

In an essay that originally appeared on Cracked.com, the now-25-year-old Wilson, who appeared in films such as "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Matilda" and "Miracle on 34th Street," lists seven reasons why it's inevitable for young stars to lose it later in life.

"Not many child stars make it out of Hollywood alive or sane, and at any given time there are at least three former ones having very public breakdowns," says Wilson, who refers to herself as a "reformed drama nerd" as opposed to a "former child star."

Wilson -- who reveals that she just quit acting -- gives very detailed reasons as to why some young stars end up in very bad places in her essay, entitled "7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy." Among the main reasons she lists are parents who aren't around to help, or choose not to, getting accustomed to attention and adoration and then suddenly losing it, not having the opportunity to "rebel," being sexually exploited at a too-young age, and not being able to escape their fame, among her other knowledgeable and wise reasons.

Wilson also astutely points out that many child stars act out around the same age, in their 20s, because they've missed their chance to behave like normal kids when they should have. They didn't get to go to prom, get drunk at a typical high school party, or sneak out of the house worrying they might get caught, so instead they make up for lost time.

"Look at when most teen and child stars committed crimes and had breakdowns. Most were in their late teens, or even well into their 20s," she said. And she is correct in the case of Bynes and Lohan, now both 27, who first began getting into trouble with the law in their early-to-mid-20s.

"When everyone else their age was getting detention for flipping off teachers or getting grounded for breaking curfew, Disney and Viacom and Fox were doing everything they could to ensure that their adorable little props weren't causing trouble and costing them millions of dollars," she elaborated.

Continuing..."But when they get older, they have more freedom. They also have money and little to no experience making decisions for themselves, so their rebellions are going to be on a much larger scale. The whole world will see it. And if there's one thing the whole world loves, it's a public breakdown."

And she is certainly right about that. There hasn't been a day in recent months (or even years, in the case of Lohan), where a former child star hasn't been covered in the media or put themselves there.

Tell us: What do you think about Wilson's observations?

  • Lesley Savage

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