Whether you read Roald Dahl’s young adult book of the same name or first experienced Matilda through the movies, one thing is for sure – many, many people totally fell in love with the film. Matilda was such a fascinating character, and there were so many over the top scenes and characters (including that ginormous chocolate cake and poor, poor Bruce Bogtrotter). Plus, it all ended with a happy ending – what better feel-good film?
It may seem like you watched the movie just yesterday, but Matilda was actually released way, way back in 1996 – that’s right, 20 years ago. So, obviously, the adorable children making up the cast (including Matilda’s classmates) have totally grown up, and the adult characters in the film have aged 20 years. Have you ever wondered what the sassy, lizard-loving Lavender turned out to look like? Ever wondered what Trunchbull looks like off-screen when she’s not wearing a severe bun and that awful outfit? What about Miss Honey – is she still as lovely as ever? And, perhaps the question most of us have – what on earth does Matilda look like now?
If you’ve ever wondered what your childhood favourites would look like twenty years down the road, we’ve got your answers – take a peek below!
15. Mara Wilson (Matilda)
Okay, we’ve got to be honest – Mara Wilson pretty much looks exactly as you might have imagined Matilda would look like. She still has the same expressive face, she still has the same brunette locks, and she’s even still rocking some wispy bangs. While you may have seen her picture at some point in those twenty years, chances are you’ll never see her on screen again. Wilson had quite the career as a child actress, but as she grew up, she decided it just wasn’t the industry for her. Instead, she’s been focusing on writing, and works for a non-profit organization. If you want to know more about your childhood favourite, check out Wilson’s memoir released last year, Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame. I mean, who doesn’t want to catch up on what Matilda’s life ended up like?
14. Leor Livneh Hackel (Julius Rottwinkle)
While there were many, many child actors who filled up the classrooms and schoolyard for the scenes that took place at Matilda’s school, not many were actually named or fleshed out into complete characters. Julius Rottwinkle, a character played by Leor Livneh Hackel, was really only there for one thing – to illustrate how frightening Trunchbull was. Hortensia remembers Rottwinkle as a boy who Trunchbull literally threw out the window, simply because he was eating candy during class. That’s a pretty harsh punishment! Since the film wrapped, Hackel hasn’t really hung out much more in Hollywood – although he did reunite with his former cast members recently at the Matilda reunion, which was pretty adorable. Perhaps the experience of playing the Trunchbull’s victim ended up scaring him off Hollywood for good?
13. Kira Spencer Cook (Hortensia)
Kira Spencer Cook, who played Hortensia, one of the older children at Matilda’s school, wasn’t a huge character in the films, but who could ever forget her horrified expression at the chocolate cake fiasco? Like many other of the children in the film, she didn’t go on to become a superstar actress, but has definitely stayed involved in the entertainment industry, with a few roles in television shows to her name as well as some producing, writing, and directing credits – she does it all! And, she’s gotten a lot more photogenic since her teenage years – and figured out how to rock blunt bangs rather than the wispy ones she was wearing in the film. Of course, it also helps to see her out of the oh-so-90s plaid overalls over a T-Shirt.
12. Embeth Davidtz (Miss Honey)
Okay, if you were of a certain age when you watched Matilda, there’s a really good chance that you had a crush on the lovely Miss Honey, played by Embeth Davidtz. First of all, she was insanely sweet and helped Matilda when her own parents really wouldn’t. And, of course, she was gorgeous in a super wholesome, 90s way. Not even these awful round Harry Potter glasses could make Embeth Davidtz look anything but incredible. Now, though 20 years have passed since she donned those glasses to play Miss Honey on the silver screen, Embeth Davidtz looks even better than she did back in the 90s. The stunner is an incredible 51 years old, but could easily pass for much younger – she still looks insanely beautiful!
11. Brian Levinson (Michael Wormwood)
When it came to the Wormwood family, Matilda wasn’t the only child – she had an older brother named Michael who didn’t quite get blessed with his sister’s brains. He was just an average kid – played by Brian Levinson. Unlike many of the other young stars of the film, Levinson wasn’t a rookie; he had already starred in a few television shows and films at the time. However, he soon found out that the entertainment industry wasn’t his long-term goal and eventually disappeared from the public eye. Now, it seems that Levinson is just living a quiet life with a fair bit of fishing thrown in, apparently, as this picture of him suggests. It just goes to prove that Hollywood isn’t for everyone. The large majority of child actors end up going on to lead normal lives outside of the entertainment industry.
10. Kiami Davael (Lavender)
Okay, if you were a huge fan of the movie, chances are there’s a part of you that pictures Kiami Davael as an adult with thick glasses and milkmaid braids. After all, Lavender must still look at least a little bit like Lavender, right? Well, not quite. Davael was just a kid, like Mara Wilson, when she played a supporting role in the film and is now all grown up and looking totally gorgeous. The actress has taken a bit of a step away from the entertainment industry, but is apparently also working as a model, singer, screenwriter, and went on to study psychology at the University of Kentucky. She’s also super close with her former film bestie Mara Wilson, which is kind of adorable. Who would have thought that dorky little Lavender would end up becoming such a babe?
9. Pam Ferris (Trunchbull)
Actress Pam Ferris kind of got the short end of the stick when it came to playing the infamous Miss Trunchbull. She was without question set up as the movie’s villain, as she frequently terrorized just about everyone she encountered, and she certainly wasn’t a looker – her severe bun and shapeless clothes really did nothing for her. In real life, though, Ferris is nowhere near as terrifying as Trunchbull – in fact, if you see photos of her, you may not even realize the two are the same person. The passing years may have greyed Ferris’ hair, but honestly, she looks even younger than she did in the film (although the style choices may have something to do with that as well – looking youthful wasn’t as important to Trunchbull as looking intimidating was, it would seem).
8. Jacqueline Steiger (Amanda Thripp)
Given that Matilda was supposed to be the insanely brainy, precocious child in the film, it’s surprising how many of her classmates had the Brainiac look down with their thick glasses – including Amanda Thripp. Her role in Matilda was Jacqueline Steiger’s first ever acting role, and while it may have just been a simple supporting role, it was definitely memorable – who could forget the girl that gets twirled around and tossed by her braided pigtails? As she grew up, Steiger realized that she far preferred being behind the camera to being in front of it. After studying at UCLA, she worked as a producer of various projects including an animated horror movie as well as indie short films. And, most importantly, she’s lost those pigtails, instead favouring a chic, cropped hairstyle.
7. Sara Magdalin (4-year-old Matilda)
Everyone remembers Mara Wilson as Matilda, and indeed, Wilson played the character for the majority of the film and is featured in all the promotional materials. However, if you think back to the opening scenes of the film and flashback scenes, you’ll remember a slightly different Matilda – played by Sara Magdalin. Magdalin left the entertainment industry after playing the precocious tot on film, but perhaps her childhood acting gig had more of an impact on her than she initially thought. Just like Miss Honey, Magdalin ended up working as a teacher for a while, before ending up training in nutrition to help children eat healthier. That’s right, just like Miss Honey, she has devoted her life to helping children be their best selves. Pretty cool, huh?
6. Tracey Walter (FBI Agent Bill)
When it came time to take down the Wormwood family and their fraudulent schemes, the FBI didn’t just send one agent – they sent a team, Bob and Bill. Actor Tracey Walter played Bill, the hat-wearing agent who was just there to do his job. In the twenty years since his minor role in a children’s flick, Walter has been in countless films including Mighty Joe Young, and appeared on television shows including Reno 911! and Monk. Admittedly, the twenty years that have passed since he played the FBI agent have taken an evident toll on the actor, but hey, as long as the interesting roles keep coming in, who cares whether you’re rocking brown hair or thinning grey hair? He’s been keeping busy, which is more than many can say in the entertainment industry.
5. Jimmy Karz (Bruce Bogtrotter)
Jimmy Karz may not have gotten a ton of screen time in Matilda, but considering that it was his first ever acting gig, the fact that everyone still remembers him is quite the testament. Of course, it could just be that his insane cake-eating scene was just so unbelievable that no one could ever forget it. I mean, if you were a true fan of the film, you might even think of Brucie every time you eat chocolate cake. Since eating an entire cake in front of the entire school, Jimmy Karz had a few roles in the entertainment industry, including being a production staffer at MTV. Nowadays, he’s in Philadelphia studying to be an osteopath, so quite the change in careers! Well, whatever he does, he’ll always be Bruce Bogtrotter to us.
4. Danny DeVito (Mr. Wormwood)
Danny DeVito is officially a staple in Hollywood – while fans of Matilda will know him as the unsympathetic Mr. Wormwood, Matilda’s father, pretty much everyone on earth knows who he is. After all, he’s been in the industry for years and years! Well, while he rocked a bit of a partially bald look (complete with a questionable moustache) in the film, in real life he looks a bit different nowadays. First of all, he’s officially rocking the grey hair. Second, he wears glasses to many events now, which definitely mix up his look a little. And, get this – many people may not know this, but he’s actually married to Rhea Perlman (who played his wife in Matilda) in real life! Seriously. Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood are a thing! Who would’ve guessed.
3. Rhea Perlman (Mrs. Wormwood)
If you only know Rhea Perlman from Matilda, chances are, you may not even recognize her in her other roles. Sure, she has a fairly distinctive face, but the character of Mrs. Wormwood is just so over the top with her piles of jewelry and heavy neon makeup and bleached blonde curls that it can be tough to associate her with the normally very natural-looking Rhea Perlman in real life. While Perlman definitely looks older than when she played the character twenty years ago, the actress is still going strong in Hollywood and shows no signs of slowing down. She may not work with husband Danny DeVito much on-screen, as she did in the movie, but the two are involved in many initiatives together and continue to be lasting presences in the entertainment industry.
2. Paul Reubens (FBI Agent Bob)
Reubens appeared only briefly in the movie, showing up as one of the FBI agents who takes down the Wormwoods. Most people probably don’t even remember him being in the film. That’s because basically any role he’s taken on has been smaller than what he’s most known for – playing the character Pee-wee Herman. That’s right, if he looked a little familiar to you, that’s why! Matilda was actually supposed to be a bit of a comeback for the actor, but considering most people probably wouldn’t recognize him from the film, it may not have been the most successful attempt. He recently starred in a Netflix original film called Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, so you know, sometimes you’ve just got to stick with what works, and if you’ve mastered a particular character, may as well just play them time and time again.
1. Jean Speegle Howard (Miss Phelps)
Everyone loved the character of Miss Phelps, the librarian who treated Matilda like an adult and helped her to indulge her love of reading and discover new worlds at the library. Apart from Miss Honey, she was probably one of the most influential characters when it came to Matilda’s precocious mind and mental development. Unlike other characters, who thought Matilda was lying about her mental abilities, Miss Phelps just helped steer her towards thrilling literary materials. In the film, Miss Phelps was played by Jean Speegle Howard, and unfortunately, Howard passed away a few years after the film wrapped, at the age of 73. She had a pretty admirable career in the entertainment industry – and hopefully, she encouraged many young viewers to hit their local library, just like Matilda did.