‘Matilda’: The Chocolate Cake Scene Almost Didn’t Happen

Matilda turns 25 years old in 2021, and the beloved movie still holds a place in people’s hearts all these years later. The 1996 flick starred Danny DeVito and a young Mara Wilson, and was based on the story of the same name by famed children’s author Roald Dahl.

‘Matilda’ was a smash hit

Matilda has remained a part of popular culture for many reasons. The story, above all else, remains one of the film’s biggest draws.

Mara Wilson stars as Matilda Wormwood, a 6-year-old who faces struggle at home and at school, but she overcomes it all for a happy ending — with the help of some special telekinetic powers, of course. Her grumpy father is played by DeVito, who also directed the film.

The 1 scene in ‘Matilda’ everyone remembers

Without a doubt, the scene from Matilda that most people remember today is the infamous eating of the chocolate cake.

At Matilda’s school, the students face mistreatment and abuse by the cruel and selfish principal, Miss Trunchbull, played by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban actor Pam Ferris. In the chocolate cake scene, the kids witness her cruelty firsthand.

Miss Trunchbull forces one student, Bruce Bogtrotter, to eat a piece of chocolate cake even though he didn’t want to. She then tells him to eat a whole giant chocolate cake, complete with fudgy frosting. Just to spite her and prove a point, Bruce Bogtrotter devours the entire cake as the students cheered.

The story behind the chocolate cake scene

The chocolate cake scene isn’t just the most recognizable scene from Matilda; it’s undoubtedly one of the most famous movie moments ever. But despite how iconic it is, not everyone was willing to keep the scene in the film.

In 2016, several Matilda cast members spoke to Thrillist and told secrets about the film and much more. Writer Robin Swicord revealed that the scene staying in the movie was up for debate.

“There were times when, in the budgeting process particularly, [producers] were going, ‘Do we really need the Bruce Bogtrotter scene with the chocolate cake?’ Because it doesn’t move the story forward,” Swicord said. “But I really loved that scene because his superpower was that he could eat a lot of chocolate cake.” 

Unsurprisingly, it was a tough scene to film. Cinematographer Stefan Czapsky told Thrillist the cold, hard truth: “He hated chocolate cake.”

In the 2005 Matilda DVD documentary, DeVito confirmed that there was a lot of cake involved, and that it was a messy experience to film.

“This is really gross, [but] I’m going to tell you anyway… We made him stuff his face, but then I would cut the camera [and] he would spit it out!” DeVito revealed, saying that if he had actually eaten all that cake it wouldn’t have been pretty.

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