20 Matilda Secrets That Miss Trunchbull Keeps Close To Her Chest

Adapted from the Roald Dahl novel of the same name, Matilda became a cult classic upon its release in 1996. The fantasy world of the film was an extraordinary place where good could stamp out evil and Matilda’s talent for telekinesis — which, let's be honest, we all wanted to have — would always save the day. And let’s not forget the so-called school “punishment” we all dreamed of: being forced to eat every last morsel of a super-sized chocolate cake! From the tricks used to create Matilda's powers and the nickname it received on set to the secret newts who made the credits, we've compiled a list of the best behind-the-scenes details from everyone's favorite family movie. 

1. Miss Trunchbull was mean off camera

In an attempt to keep the child actors legitimately fearful of her while filming, Miss Trunchbull actor Pam Ferris deliberately stayed mean and moody even after the cameras had stopped rolling. Talking to the Radio Times in September 2016, Ferris explained, “We had a discussion, Danny [DeVito] and I… that I should stay aloof… and only meet them in character to try and keep that awed look in their face and the fear.” And judging by the kids’ reactions to her in the movie, it looks like her plan worked.

2. One scene put Pam Ferris in hospital

We could never forget Miss Trunchbull’s impressive hammer throw of poor pigtailed Amanda Thripp. But did you know that filming this classic scene almost cost Ferris one of her pinkies? Supportive wires were placed through the pigtails of the young actress, and Ferris held on to them with a loop. But when swinging the girl, the force of the maneuver caused the loop to tighten, almost chopping off Ferris’ finger. The near-miss actually resulted in seven or eight stitches. Ouch!

3. Amanda Thripp didn't have a stunt double

Now you might be thinking that surely it wouldn't be right — or even possible — to actually spin a child around by their hair in the name of acting. But, you'd be wrong! In fact, Jacqueline Steiger, the actress who plays Amanda, didn't even have a stunt double for the shocking spin. So how did they achieve the notorious hammer throw? Well, along with fake pigtails filled with wires, Steiger wore a harness that held the whole thing together with, you guessed it — more wire. And according to director Danny Devito, the child star had a whale of the time filming the scene!

4. Matilda’s parents were a real-life couple

As she’s a child genius, you’d think that Matilda would make anyone proud — but her vicious parents, Harry and Zinnia, are big meanies who treat her like dirt. And, rather neatly, the pair who play the evil on-screen couple were actually married in real life, too! Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman were together for over 45 years and married for nearly 35 before they separated. However, they both insist that they still consider themselves family. And if interviews are to be believed, then despite their split, they were certainly happier together than the Wormwoods!