Former child actor Mara Wilson isn’t surprised by the bad behavior of ex-child stars such as Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Mischa Barton, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus.
Wilson, 25, says the pressures of working too young, coupled with the accompanying entitlement complexes, fuel the often-inevitable slide into drugs, alcohol and other self-destructive behaviors.
“Combine the regular amount of free stuff celebrities get with all the presents people give kids just for being cute, and you’ve got a recipe for one spoiled-ass child,” Mara blogged on Cracked.
Wilson, who starred in hit films such as “Matilda,” “Nine Months” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” says the constant adulation and lack of rules can make a child extremely jaded.
“This tends to happen: It’s called the hedonic treadmill … which means that even people who have the best of everything quickly become used to it,” she wrote. “The thrill of new things and new experiences always wears off.”
“Years of adulation and money become normal, and then, just as they get used to it all, they hit puberty — which is a serious job hazard when your job is being cute.”
Mara says child stars often get depressed as they grow up and realize their fame is fleeting, and they’re no longer wanted in Hollywood.
“Adults know that infatuation is fleeting, but kids don’t understand this,” she wrote. “A year in a kid’s life seems like an eternity, and they think anything happening now will happen forever.
“A child actor who is no longer cute is no longer monetarily viable and is discarded. He or she is then replaced by someone younger and cuter, and fan bases accordingly forget that the previous object of affection ever existed.”
Rejection by Hollywood is often the trigger for most child actors because they’re unemployable in other ways, and their self-esteem drops as their star power wanes.
“Imagine that people you once relied on and trusted — as well as millions of people you’d never met, who had previously liked you — had told you, ‘Yeah, it’s true. You are exactly as ugly and worthless as you feel.’ “
Wilson says child actors then turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with feelings of worthlessness and desperation.
“When they get older, they have more freedom,” she explains. “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.”
The key to avoiding this downward spiral into depression and self-loathing, says Wilson, is to enjoy the ride and get an education so you can get a job outside of entertainment once the offers dry up.
“That’s my suggestion for kids who want to act: Make sure it’s really your choice, get out of it when it stops being fun, and get an education,” Mara advises. “If I were to talk to Lindsay Lohan, I’d encourage her to get the hell out of acting and into something soothing. Take up botany or something.
“But she wouldn’t be likely to listen to me — and not only because I’m younger and way less hot than her. It’s because she’s been acting all her life, she has little education, and in her mind, there’s nothing else she could do.”