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Matilda (1996) Poster

(1996)

Trivia

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Mara Wilson's mom Suzie Shapiro Wilson died of breast cancer while the movie was being filmed. Mara honored her mother by bravely finishing "Matilda", which was dedicated to Suzie's memory.
Pam Ferris would often stay in character when the director called cut in an attempt to scare the children on set so that their fear of Miss Trunchbull would be genuine when the camera was rolling.
The picture of Miss Honey's father, Magnus, is actually a portrait of Roald Dahl, the author of the book "Matilda," upon which the film is based.
In the making of segment on the DVD, Danny DeVito reveals that for the chalk to write by itself, they wrote the letters backwards on the opposite side of the chalkboard, then put a magnet on the chalk. They then had someone stand behind the chalkboard and write the words backwards with a device that attracted magnets.
As a child, Miss Honey had a doll named Liccy Doll. One of the producers of the film is author Roald Dahl's widow, Liccy Dahl.
Mara Wilson designed the homemade doll that Matilda has in the film. Her name is Wanda.
Matilda, when describing her love of Charles Dickens to Miss Honey, accidentally mispronounces his name as "Dahl's Chickens." This is a nod to another novel by Roald Dahl, "The BFG," in which the title character continuously mispronounces Charles Dickens' name.
Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman are married in real life.
Near the end of the film, Matilda tells Miss Honey about the speed of a mouse's beating heart. This is a subtle reference to another book by Roald Dahl, The Witches, in which the protagonist and his grandmother have the same discussion.
The song playing in the car with the FBI agents as Matilda passes by is featured in Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985). One of the FBI agents is played by Paul Reubens who also plays Pee-wee Herman.
Feature film debut of Craig Lamar Taylor. He went on later to play Malcolm's wheel-chair bound, slow talking, best friend on the television series Malcolm in the Middle. He plays the little boy who catches the newt which falls off of the light fixture - after The Tunchbull's "dance" caused by Matilda using her powers to tip the glass from which Trunchbull drinks.
Wormwood, the family name, is a poisonous plant or "something bitter, grievous, or extremely unpleasant." Wormwood is also the name of the apprentice devil in C.S. Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters".
The film's official trailer featured music from The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and Harry Belafonte's "Jump in the Line" which was featured prominently in Beetlejuice (1988).
The credits on the DVD version list the Newt as played by Mr. Speaker, Sir Isaac, and Wayne. This is a reference to: Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives; Sir Isaac Newton, English physicist; and Wayne Newton, the singer.
Mariska Hargitay turned down the role of Miss Honey.
Matilda writing on a chalkboard with the power of her mind was an idea later used by Stephen King in Doctor Sleep, his book sequel to The Shining, to send someone a message.
Newborn Matilda was played by two sets of twins, one set of girls, one set of boys.
This film features no less than three actors from the Tim Burton Batman films: Danny DeVito, who directs and co-stars, played the Penguin, also known as Oswald Cobblepot, in Batman Returns (1992). Paul Reubens, who plays one of the FBI agents hunting Harry Wormwood, also appeared in Batman Returns as the Penguin's father. Tracey Walter, who plays the other FBI agent, played Bob the Goon in the original Batman (1989).
Danny DeVito not only plays Mr. Wormwood but he also serves as the narrator and director.
Kylie Tyndall and Keaton Tyndall were originally cast as Young Matilda, but had to be replaced last minute due to high fevers and the flu.
Apart from Miss Honey, Miss Trunchbull, and Cookie (the cafeteria cook), no other teachers or staff of Crunchem Hall are ever shown.
One of the lunchboxes reads, "Greeting from Asbury Park, New Jersey", a reference to Danny DeVito's hometown. "Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey" is also the name of Bruce Springsteen's first album.
The car Harry sells to the Trunchbull is a 1970 Buick Electra 225 sedan.
Bette Midler was considered for the role of Zinnia Wormwood
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Bob Hoskins, Tim Allen and Joe Pesci were considered for the role of Harry Wormwood
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Richard Donner was considered to direct the film.
Several times in the film, the word "twit" is used by Harry Wormwood and Ms. Trunchbull. This could be a reference to a book called "The Twits" by Roald Dahl who wrote the book this movie is based upon.
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The scene where Bruce Bogtrotter is forced to eat chocolate cake took so long to film that the call sheet had an Infinity symbol written on the start and end times.
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Mara Wilson had been a fan of the book ever since the age of four, when she had overheard her mother reading it to other children. After the success of Miracle on 34th Street, Matilda was among many scripts she was offered. She chose it immediately.
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It's widely believed that the Trunchbull was based off the headmistress of Liccy Dahl (who served as a producer) - who reportedly got very creative with her punishments. Liccy and her friend once tried to sneak ice cream to their rooms. When they were caught,the headmistress made them wait until dawn while the ice cream melted.
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Mara Wilson's mother died during production of the film. She had thought for years that her mother had never gotten to see the completed film. But years later, Danny DeVito revealed he had shown her a rough cut of what they had filmed shortly before she died.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Towards the end of the film, Matilda's parents tell her that they are moving to Guam to escape the FBI. It is actually a small island in the Pacific, but is a U.S. territory.

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