13 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’
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There are certain movies that you’ll see throughout your life that just tend to stick with you for some reason. They aren’t your favorite movies, and you’ve probably only seen them a few times, but for some reason memories of random scenes and quotes are always popping into your mind everywhere you go. For me, movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is one of those movies. I saw it for the first time when I was just a kid, and ever since then it’s been one of my quiet obsessions.
Here are a few commonly unknown facts about the film.
1. Darlene Cates was discovered on a talk show
One of the big surprises of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was the heartfelt performance of amateur actress Darlene Cates. Yet given her expertise at portraying Bonnie, Gilbert and Arnie’s loving yet morbidly overweight mother, it may come as a surprise to learn that Cates had never acted before. In fact, one of the casting directors originally discovered her on Sally Jessy Raphael, talking about her lifelong obesity struggle.
2. In the book, Arnie only has one eye…
Leonardo DiCaprio’s turn as Arnie is the epitome of sweetness: in Peter Hedges’ original novel, though, his depiction is less attractive. Specifically, he only has one eye due to injury. Furthermore, Gilbert, as the book’s narrator, describes him as “having teeth that look confused,” with “no hiding that he’s retarded.” Bit harsh…
3. It was Darlene Cates’ first and only major movie
Although Darlene Cates’ acting in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was a revelation, unfortunately, her star turn didn’t lead to bigger and better things. To date, moreover, it remains the only major movie she has starred in. After shedding an incredible 240 pounds in 2012, however, she’s hoping to be on screen again very soon.
4. … and Gilbert is far meaner
In fact, the novel’s depiction of all the movie characters was much grittier and maybe more realistic. For one, Gilbert says of Arnie, “Some days you want him to live, some days you don’t.” He also has a lot less patience for his brother than the film shows. Meanwhile, Gilbert’s relationship with Becky, played in the movie adaption by Juliette Lewis, is also based more around sex than romance.
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