Mrs. Doubtfire, Then and Now
In 1993, Robin Williams took an age-old comedy trope — a person disguising themselves as the opposite gender — and spun it into gold in Mrs. Doubtfire. Based on the book Alias Madame Doutbfire and directed by Chris Columbus, the film leaned into Williams’ renowned skills as improviser and comedian to tell the tale of Daniel Hillard, a man who disguises himself as a Scottish housekeeper in order to stay close to his kids after his divorce. The film featured some of the best and brightest talents of the early 90s, while also providing a showcase for its three adorable child actors. Where are they now?
Robin Williams (Daniel Hillard/Mrs. Doubtfire)
Williams was already a household name by 1993, having broken out on Mork and Mindy on television in the early 1980s and having appeared in films like Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, Hook, and Aladdin. Known for his improvisational style, Williams was given free reign as Mrs. Doubtfire, inventing the character’s voice and look from the ground up and frequently riffing off-script in his scenes. After delighting audiences in the movie, he continued to dominate film screens in the 1990s in films like Jumanji, Patch Adams, Flubber, and The Birdcage. In 1998, he won an Oscar for his portrayal of Sean, Will Hunting’s therapist, in Good Will Hunting. Continuing into the 2000s, he continued to work steadily in serious films (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, One Hour Photo) and children’s movies (Happy Feet, RV), as well as playing a recurring role as Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum films. In 2013, he returned to his TV roots on the short-lived CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones. Williams tragically took his own life in 2014 at the age of 63.
Sally Field (Miranda Hillard)
Like her co-star Williams, Field got her start in television on shows like Gidget and The Flying Nun. In the late 1970s she transitioned to movie stardom with a leading role in Smokey and the Bandit, moving on to more prestige fare and winning an Oscar for both 1979’s Norma Rae and 1984’s Places in the Heart. Field was well to the mid-point in her career by the time she portrayed Miranda Hillard, Daniel’s ex-wife who yearns for an emotionally and financially supportive partner. Field has continued a diverse career on film (Lincoln, Forrest Gump, The Amazing Spider-Man) since. She’s also returned to her television roots with a six-year stint on ER and a prime role as matriarch Nora Walker on Brothers and Sisters. Recently, Field has focused on quirky, independent comedies like Hello, My Name is Doris.
Pierce Brosnan (Stu)
When Brosnan played Stu, Miranda’s smarmy, wealthy new boyfriend, in Mrs. Doubtfire, he was best known to audiences for portraying the title role on television’s Remington Steele. Two years later he’d become an international superstar as the latest James Bond in 1995’s GoldenEye. He portrayed the British spy a total of four times, ending with 2002’s Die Another Day. Since then, Brosnan has appeared in rom-coms (Laws of Attraction), musicals (Mamma Mia!), thrillers (The Ghost Writer), and action films (The Foreigner). Most recently, he appeared in AMC’s western drama The Son. The Irish actor has numerous projects in the pipeline including portraying Louis XIV and reprising his role as Sam in the Mamma Mia sequel.
Harvey Fierstein (Frank)
Prior to Mrs. Doubtfire, Fierstein was chiefly known in theatre circles. He previously starred in 1988’s Torch Song Trilogy, which was based on a play he wrote – Fierstein won two Tony awards for writing and appearing in the Broadway production of the play. He had also won a Tony for writing the book for the musical La Cage Aux Folles. Though he’d had guest-starring roles on television, the role of Frank, Daniel’s gay brother who helps design the make-up he needs to become Mrs. Doubtfire, was a breakout film part for the actor. Since Mrs. Doubtfire, Fierstein has gone on to appear in films like Independence Day and Bullets Over Broadway. His distinctive gravelly voice has also been heard in everything from Mulan to How I Met Your Mother. Fierstein has continued to work primarily in the theater, originating the role of Edna Turnblad in Broadway’s Hairspray, appearing in a revival of his own La Cage, and writing books for musicals like Kinky Boots, Newsies, and several live TV musical productions.
Lisa Jakub (Lydia Hillard)
Jakub made her film debut in 1985’s Eleni and continued to work regularly on television before portraying Robin Williams and Sally Field’s eldest daughter Lydia in Mrs. Doubtfire. She continued to act until she was 22, appearing in films like Independence Day and Painted Angels. Jakub retired from acting in 2001 and has now authored two books about her experiences as a child actor and her struggles with anxiety and depression.
Matthew Lawrence (Chris Hillard)
Lawrence has been an actor since he was four years old, appearing on shows like Dynasty, Gimme a Break!, and Drexell’s Class before his role as Williams and Field’s only son Chris in Mrs. Doubtfire. He is the middle child of the acting Lawrence brothers, with whom he appeared in the sitcom Brotherly Love. He is perhaps best known for his role as Sean Hunter’s older brother Jack on the last few seasons of Boy Meets World, a character he reprised in 2015 on Disney Channel’s reboot Girl Meets World. Since then, Lawrence has continued to appear in films like TheHot Chick and The Comebacks, as well as appearing opposite his brother Joey on the sitcom Melissa and Joey.
Mara Wilson (Natalie Hillard)
Wilson made her film debut as the Hillards’ youngest daughter Natalie in Mrs. Doubtfire, but she quickly skyrocketed to even greater fame. The actress endeared herself to a generation with her portrayal of the title character in the film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and took on the Natalie Wood role of too-practical-for-a-child Susan Walker in a remake of Miracle on 34th Street. She also appeared opposite Martin Short in A Simple Wish. As a child, she had a recurring role on Melrose Place. Wilson took a 12-year hiatus from acting beginning in 2000 and has since returned to the screen, primarily on TV series like Broad City and BoJack Horseman. Today, she primarily works as a culture writer, penning articles, plays, and a podcast called What Are You Afraid Of?
Robert Prosky (Mr. Lundy)
Prosky was a well-respected character actor thanks to multiple seasons of Hill Street Blues as Sergeant Stan Jablonski and films like Broadcast News under his belt when he joined the cast of Mrs. Doubtfire. He plays Mr. Lundy, the head of a local television station who sees promise in Daniel’s comedic antics and gives him his own show. After Mrs. Doubtfire, he appeared in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street and in Dead Man Walking. He had recurring television roles on The Practice, Danny, and Veronica’s Closet. Prosky passed away in 2008 at the age of 77.