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Danny DeVito gave 'Matilda' star's mother a priceless gift just before she died of breast cancer

He took Mara Wilson under his family's care while the movie was in production.

Danny DeVito gave 'Matilda' star's mother a priceless gift just before she died of breast cancer
L: Matilda/Sony Pictures (R)Danny DeVito on July 22, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for IMDb)

Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 3, 2023. It has since been updated.

A single selfless act of kindness can transform lives and give people the strength to deal with even the biggest of challenges. While such acts of kindness are rare in the world, they help restore our faith in humanity. Danny DeVito, actor and filmmaker, is popularly considered a kind person and his generosity to a fellow actor will melt your heart. DeVito is widely known for portraying Frank Reynolds in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." However, he also directed a classic and popular movie that resonated with children and adults alike - "Matilda." 


He directed the movie, starred in it and also took care of the lead actor, Mara Wilson behind the scenes, reports Express UK. Wilson portrayed the youthful telekinetic character in the movie while her fictional father, the nasty and vile Harry Wormwood, was portrayed by DeVito. Wilson spent a part of her childhood on the film set. She received her education there and also found a second family on set. However, in the meantime, she was dealing with something tragic at home as her mother, Suzie Wilson, was fighting breast cancer. 

DeVito and his wife Rhea Perlman—who also portrayed Zinnia Wormwood, his on-screen wife—volunteered to take the eight-year-old actress home with them so they could take care of her. Suzie's health quickly deteriorated and she eventually passed away in April 1996, only a few months before "Matilda" was released in theaters on August 2, 1996.


Suzie was never able to watch her daughter on the big screen. However, just before she passed away, DeVito was able to visit her in the hospital and present her with a lovely gift that meant a lot to Wilson. The actress shared in her autobiography, "Where Am I Now?" that DeVito secretly visited Suzie and showed her an early edit of "Matilda" before it was released to theaters.

She was able to watch her daughter in the film before everyone else and before she passed away thanks to DeVito's thoughtful gesture. Years later, Wilson revealed how much it meant to her and expressed her gratitude to DeVito for his gift. The film's closing credits also included a homage to Wilson's mother. She said, "I felt so glad when I saw that in the credits. And I still feel happy when I see that now. I'm so glad they did that." Wilson had nothing but positive recollections of making "Matilda" despite the unfortunate circumstances at home during the production.

Image Source: Getty Images/Stringer
Image Source: Getty Images/Stringer

She added, "I was going through a hard time, and I know I had hard days, but everyone in the film was so nice. Danny and Rhea were like my favorite aunt and uncle. It was wonderful. I remember feeling anxious when the movie wrapped, and it was really hard to go back to being normal and dealing with my mom’s sickness. I definitely feel like having that family there, and having people willing to take care of us and help us out made it easier."

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