Listen, you little wiseacre. I'm smart, you're dumb, I'm big, you're little, I'm right, you're wrong. And there's nothin' you can do about it.
~ Harry insulting his daughter, Matilda.

Mr. Harold "Harry" Wormwood, also known as Mr. Wormwood, is the secondary antagonist in Roald Dahl's book Matilda and its popular 1996 film adaptation.

He is the owner of Wormwood Motors, the husband of Zinnia Wormwood and the father of Matilda and Michael Wormwood. Despite posing as an honest businessman, Harry is actually a crook and a con-artist who sells defective cars to people at unreasonable prices, as he believes that no one makes money being honest and is also unaware that the FBI are spying on him as he believes that the FBI are speedboat salesmen.

He was portrayed by Danny DeVito, who also directed the film and narrated it. DeVito also voices Mr. Swackhammer in Space Jam, and portrays The Penguin in Batman Returns and Bobby Ciaro in Hoffa.


Harry Wormwood is a rich man and a crook who makes dirty dealings like buying stolen car parts. He is the owner of Wormwood Motors. Harry doesn't care for Matilda a lot. He gets ticked off when he realize she is smarter than him, and he often abuses Matilda by sending her to her room as a false punishment for being a "smart aleck", calling her names, destroying Matilda's library book, and rants and raves at her.

Later, at the end of the film, due to his illegal dealings which attracted the attention of the FBI, Harry and his wife, Mrs. Zinnia Wormwood, and his son, Michael, are forced to go on a permanent vacation to Guam. After they agree to let Matilda be adopted by Miss Honey, the three drive away, never to be seen again.

In the stage musical, he is shown to ultimately care about Matilda a bit in that he acknowledges her as his daughter and wants her to come away with the family; this does not occur in the film.



  • A popular theory in recent years is that Harry Wormwood and the narrator of the film are actually one and the same (given the fact that they were both played by Danny DeVito, who also directed the film), implying that Harry eventually pulled a Heel-Face Turn and became a better person, which leads him to narrate Matilda's story in a way to atone the fact that he was not the decent father he should have been.
  • It's possible that in the film canon, Mr. Wormwood got his comeuppance offscreen in the end. Basically, while he and his family go to Guam so the FBI would not capture him, Guam is a U.S. territory and the FBI still has jurisdiction there, so he and his family wouldn't actually be escaping anything. In the book, the Wormwoods went to Spain, which is in Europe, and therefore the FBI has no jurisdiction there.
    • Given this, it is unknown why Spain was changed to Guam in the film adaptation as it does not affect the story in any way. However, it is possible that it was changed to reflect Harry's lack of knowledge and intelligence in contrast to that of his daughter (if anyone believes that Harry was arrested in the end).
  • Rhea Perlman, the actress who played Harry's wife Zinnia Wormwood in the film, was Danny DeVito's wife in real life by the time the film was made.
  • In the original book, Mr. Wormwood is taller and thinner, but in the film adaptation, Mr. Wormwood is short and overweight. In contrast, Mrs. Wormwood was overweight in the original book but thinner in the film adaptation.
  • The late Bob Hoskins, Tim Allen, Joe Pesci, John Goodman, Robert De Niro, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Richard Dreyfuss, Steve Martin, George Wendt, Alec Baldwin, the late Phil Hartman, the late Robin Williams and the late Tony Haygarth were all considered for the role of Harry Wormwood before Danny DeVito was cast.
  • Harry Wormwood's character was, to some extent, the inspiration for Vernon Dursley, the uncle of Harry Potter from the Harry Potter franchise. However, in comparison, Harry is less harsh with his daughter than Vernon with his nephew.


           Roald Dahl Logo.png Villains

James and the Giant Peach: Aunt Sponge & Aunt Spiker | Rhino | Cloud Men
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Arthur Slugworth
The Magic Finger: The Girl
Fantastic Mr. Fox: Boggis, Bunce and Bean | Rat
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator: Vermicious Knids
Danny, the Champion of the World: Mr. Victor Hazell
The Enormous Crocodile: Enormous Crocodile
The Twits: Mr. and Mrs. Twit
George's Marvellous Medicine: Grandma
The BFG: Giants (Fleshlumpeater, Bloodbottler, Bonecruncher, Meatdripper & Gizzardgulper)
Revolting Rhymes: Big Bad Wolf | Little Red Riding Hood | Ugly Sisters
The Witches: Witches (Grand High Witch, The Woman in Black, Beatrice, Henrietta & Elizabeth)
Dirty Beasts: Crocky-Wock | Stingaling
Boy: Tales of Childhood: Headmaster of Llandaff Cathedral School | Mrs. Pratchett | Captain Hardcastle
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me: The Cobra
Matilda: Agatha Trunchbull | Harry Wormwood
Rhyme Stew: Lord Hellespont | The Emperor | The Witch
The Minpins: Red-Hot Smoke-Belching Gruncher

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Arthur Slugworth
The Witches: Witches (Grand High Witch, Susan Irvine, Nicola Cuttle, Pamela, Lois Leffour, Mildred, Elizabeth, Henrietta, Jacqueline & Beatrice)
James and the Giant Peach: Aunt Sponge | Aunt Spiker | Rhino | Skeleton Pirates | Shark
Matilda: Agatha Trunchbull | Harry Wormwood | Zinnia Wormwood | Michael Wormwood
Fantastic Mr. Fox: Boggis, Bunce and Bean | Rat
The BFG: Giants (Fleshlumpeater, Bloodbottler & Bonecruncher)

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