The Matilda Cast – How Netflix Completely Rebooted From The Original
The Matilda cast changed from the 1996 version to the 2022 version with Mara Wilson and Alisha Weir starring in the movies respectively.
There’s a reason the Matilda cast resonates from the first movie and why a new group worked so well in the Netflix musical reboot. When many people think of their childhoods, they harken back to a time when British novelist Roald Dahl was king. With film and television adaptations of Dahl’s work that include Willy Wonka, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Witches as examples, it’s hard not to be influenced by Dahl’s characters, Matilda included.
One of Roald Dahl’s novels that has enjoyed the adaptation treatment is Matilda, the story of a child prodigy with disrespectful parents who uses her psychokinesis powers against those that mistreat her. The novel was initially adapted into a 1996 film called Matilda, which featured a 1990s-fitting cast. It has had a run in stage productions, and now, Netflix has unveiled its latest film version, Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical.
Both the 1996 film and the 2022 Netflix version have been well received by critics and audiences alike, and it looks as though the Matilda franchise cast seems to always impress.
Rotten Tomatoes ranks 1996’s Matilda with 91 percent on its Tomatometer and an Audience Score of 73 percent. The same aggregator site reflects a Certified Fresh score of 92 percent for Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical and an Audience Score of 74 percent.
Here is a look at the Matilda and Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical casts:
THE STARS OF THE MATILDA CAST ARE MARA WILSON AND ALISHA WEIR
Mara Wilson – Matilda Wormwood (1996)
One of the most famous child actors of the 1990s, Mara Wilson, had a string of successful film appearances that established her as a leading figure in family movies. After starring alongside Robin Williams and Sally Field in Mrs. Doubtfire, Wilson also had a sentimental turn in the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street.
But her part as Matilda Wormwood cemented the young actor’s legacy when she starred in the titular role as part of 1996’s Matilda cast. Embodying a precocious child who strives to be well-mannered despite bad influences from her neglectful parents, Wilson struck a chord with audiences at the time. Her savvy nature marks the character of Matilda as a 6-year-old girl, but her powers make her stand out above the other children in school.
Matilda Wormwood begins an alliance with her Crunchem Hall teacher Miss Honey, using her powers to battle against her family and the ruthless Miss Trunchbull.
Matilda is likable and caring, but her obvious intelligence flanks her personality. Sometimes, that intelligence gets her into sticky situations, which makes watching her adventures even more entertaining.
Alisha Weir – Matilda Wormwood (2022)
For the latest Netflix film version, Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, young Irish actor Alisha Weir takes on the primary role to lead an all-star cast. Learning from Mara Wilson’s appreciation of the character, Netflix’s latest offering is Weir’s first leading part in a film. Unlike Wilson, though, Weir has the audacious task of singing and dancing along with acting as Matilda Wormwood.
According to an interview with The Wrap, Alisha Weir discussed her favorite songs from Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical and the character she plays, which is taken directly from the stage musical by Dennis Kelly. The actor notes that she loves how Matilda “is put into a life where she kind of has to stand on her own, and her way to life is reading — how she says in the movie ‘It’s like a holiday in her head.’”
Alisha Weir continues the tradition of showing Matilda as a voracious reader, a character trait that Mara Wilson also tried to convey in Matilda. Matilda’s love of reading creates an imaginary escape that she attempts to emulate in her real world.
Embeth Davidtz – Miss Jennifer Honey (1996)
In 1996’s Matilda, American-South African actor Embeth Davidtz joined the impressive cast as Miss Jennifer Honey. Notable for being Matilda’s favorite teacher at Crunchem Hall and later her adoptive mother, Jennifer Honey is kind and attentive to Matilda’s plights. Devoted to her tasks as a teacher, she inspires Matilda daily to live her truth and believe in herself no matter the consequences.
Lashana Lynch – Miss Honey (2022)
Many of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical cast is filled with British actors, and Lashana Lynch has the arduous duty of taking on the role of Miss Honey from Embeth Davidtz. But Lynch is a talented actor who more than makes room for Miss Honey to shine in Netflix’s new version of a well-regarded childhood icon.
After a year filled with star-making performances in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Woman King, it’s Lynch’s take on Miss Honey in Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical that makes her unique.
The 1996 adaptation of Matilda lacked diversity in every way, but it still stands out as faithful to the original novel. Lashana Lynch brings grace and determination to an updated version of the character of Miss Honey in the 2022 film. The Los Angeles Times reports that Lashana Lynch made Miss Honey in her own image, showing that she can “belt out a tune, go toe-to-toe with child actors and emit a kindly glow that lights up every room.”
MATILDA CAST – THE VILLAINS
Pam Ferris – Miss Agatha Trunchbull (1996)
Welsh actor Pam Ferris first showed the world how abusive Miss Agatha Trunchbull could be in Matilda, making her a true antagonist. Miss Trunchbull is Matilda’s ultimate adversary, depicted as the tyrannical principal of the school, Crunchem Hall. She also happens to be Miss Honey’s aunt, making for a delicate balance between the heroes and a worthy opponent in the film.
Miss Trunchbull’s characteristics are also undeniable in Matilda, explaining to the children how strong she is due to her former career as an Olympian shot put athlete. She uses her talents as an athlete to abuse the children of her school, including hurling objects at them when they disobey.
Trunchbull is also a fan of the Chokey, a closet she forces some children into where she sticks nails and broken glass to torment them to her great pleasure.
Emma Thompson – Miss Agatha Trunchbull (2022)
To give Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical a bit of star power beyond Lashana Lynch, director Matthew Warchus cast Academy Award-winning actor Emma Thompson in the updated role of the child-hating headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. According to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, mirroring Pam Ferris’s look from Matilda, Thompson’s hair, bodysuit, and makeup to transform into the character reportedly took three hours a day to complete.
Emma Thompson’s Miss Trunchbull towers over Matilda and the other cast of characters, quite literally. As a tyrant in Matilda’s world, this renewed look at Miss Trunchbull is a bit more bullish and cruel than the 1996 version.
But Thompson makes the character her own, keeping with the former athlete schtick and solidifying the unofficial motto of Crunchem Hall: “This isn’t a school. It’s a prison.”
Danny DeVito – Harry Wormwood (1996)
Matilda director Danny DeVito pulled double duty when he cast himself as Harry Wormwood, Matilda’s slick used car salesman of a father. Disrespectful of his child’s needs and grumpy to his core, Harry’s only love in life is that of money and success. Along with his wife, Zinnia, the two hardly ever notice Matilda’s child-prodigy abilities and disregard their roles as her parents.
Stephen Graham – Harry Wormwood (2022)
Peaky Blinders alum Stephen Graham incorporates his veteran acting techniques in the updated role of Harry Wormwood in Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Like Danny DeVito’s character portrayal, Graham’s Harry is notable for his criminal actions and thoughtless disregard for his daughter’s well-being. Snarky and unrefined, Harry ignores Matilda’s advice regarding his illegal activities, which tends to catch up with him in the end.
Rhea Perlman – Zinnia Wormwood (1996)
Danny DeVito chose to invite Emmy Award-winner Rhea Perlman to play Zinnia Wormwood in the Matilda cast, his real-life wife at the time, who embodied the fictional wife of Harry Wormwood.
Zinnia is an unremarkable mother, primarily because of her disdain for her own daughter and neglectful actions. She cares more for vanity and Bingo than being present for Matilda, which forces Matilda to seek Miss Honey out as an adoptive mother.
Andrea Riseborough – Zinnia Wormwood (2022)
English actor and producer Andrea Riseborough picks up where Rhea Perlman left off with Zinnia Wormwood, joining Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical cast. Still unhinged and vapid as ever, Riseborough’s take on Zinnia is crowned by the fact that she didn’t know she was pregnant with Matilda until she was about to give birth.
Brian Levinson – Michael Wormwood (1996)
Child actor Brian Levinson played Michael Wormwood in Matilda and was cast in the role of Matilda’s bratty older brother. Michael is similar to Harry and Zinnia in his behavior towards Matilda, but his childish actions result in him throwing food at his sister and calling her “dip-face” a lot.
This character was written out of 2022’s Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical and does not appear in the Netflix adaptation.
NEW MATILDA CAST CHARACTER
Sindhu Vee – Mrs. Phelps
Stand-up comedian Sindhu Vee joins Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical cast as Mrs. Phelps, the traveling librarian who ends up befriending Alisha Weir’s Matilda. A new character in the film adaptations of Roald Dahl’s classic story, Mrs. Phelps is a good-natured influence on young Matilda, as she encourages her to read.
Impressed by Matilda’s intellect and drive to walk to the library every day from her house, Mrs. Phelps puts a reading list together for Matilda after she notices the child has read all of the children’s books in the library.