“Matilda” star Mara Wilson learned early on that looking herself up online was a mistake. She wasn’t yet a teenager the first time she searched for her name and found sites that falsely promised nude photos of her, not to mention people discussing her body in sickening detail. Later, she found images of her feet floating around cyberspace, alongside those of other young actors.
“I actually came to laugh it off,” Wilson, now 30, said over the phone recently. “And it’s really sad, when you’re 14 or 15, that you’re laughing off that you’re on a foot fetish website.”
Wilson made the journey from child star to stable adult with relative ease, but that path is littered with cautionary tales. Kids in Hollywood have always faced dangers, and they historically came from within the industry. Just think of Judy Garland’s tales of being groped and harassed by a power player like Louis B. Mayer.
But the challenges for similar kids today are shifting and broadening…