What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Charmingly offbeat and low-key, What's Eating Gilbert Grape focuses on the plight of a young man who'd love nothing more than to leave his dysfunctional family and sleepy rural community. But Gilbert, played with warmth and sensitivity by Johnny Depp, is restrained by a sense of duty to his morbidly obese mother (Darlene Cates) and mentally handicapped younger brother (Leonardo DiCaprio).
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Cast: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, Darlene Cates, Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Kevin Tighe, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover
Awards & Nominations:
1994 ACADEMY AWARDS (OSCAR):
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Leonardo DiCaprio (Nominated)
1994 CHICAGO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION AWARDS:
Most Promising Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio (Won)
1994 GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Leonardo DiCaprio (Nominated)
1994 LOVE IS FOLLY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, Bulgaria:
Golden Aphrodite: Lasse Hallstrom (Won)
1995 GUILD OF GERMAN ART HOUSE CINEMAS:
Guild Film Award, Silver - Foreign Film: Lasse Hallstrom (Won)
1993 NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW:
Best Supporting Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio (Won)
ABOUT THIS MOVIE
(Compiled by Julie)
Quotes from Johnny Depp:
"My character's uneasy with people so, like, if something gets too serious on the set, like if I'm feeling, 'God, I'm doing a scene,' Lasse automatically starts talking about radishes to get me back into how uncomfortable my character is. Lasse says stuff like, 'If a radish were up your butt, how far would it be? All the way in? Halfway? Just entering?' A radish is a pretty solid image, you know? So, that's how he communicates. He's allergic to bullsh*t."
"Well, as it is with most of my movies, the films that I've done, and there's no disrespect for the crew or the filmmakers or the writers or anything like that. It's nothing to do with them. I always figure that once I've wrapped on a film, my job is done. Anything beyond that is none of my business. So, if I can avoid seeing the final product, I like to, because then all I have in my head is the experience and I feel very good about the experience. Gilbert Grape was a rough time for me just in terms of I don't know where I was, emotionally or psychologically."
"I was really touched and pleased that people liked the film and people understood Gilbert and Arnie. I was real happy when Leo got a nomination for the Academy Awards, and I was disappointed that Darlene Cates didn't get a nomination, who played our mother. But certainly I was real pleased that people liked the movie, but I just didn't feel like I needed to see it. There's a few of 'em I haven't seen."
"Another time, What's Eating Gilbert Grape came on, which is a film I've never seen. And it was the opening credits and then the opening scene, and it got me to the point, I was trying to watch a little bit of it and I started to hyperventilate. I just shut the TV off and walked away."
"While filming Gilbert Grape there were times when I was really lonely but I don't know if that had anything to do with the character I was playing, so I made myself feel that way to prepare for the film."
"Gilbert never really had the opportunity to go and make his life. He had to take care of his mom and his retarded brother. He stayed at a very slow speed. And sometimes you play roles that are close to you, you identify with the guy. Not that you become the person, because I don't buy into that sh*t at all. But this movie was a rough time for me. I poisoned myself constantly: drinking, didn't eat right, no sleep, lots of cigarettes. It was really a lonely, really f*cking lonely, time."
"[The hair color was] Miss Clairol. I don't remember the number, just that it was redder than red. It had to do with this guy I grew up with, a friend named Bones, who saved my life once. I was doing a really ridiculous thing; I was blowing fire with gasoline in my mouth and I lit my face on fire. I couldn't get it out, and Bones put it out. Bones kind of reminded me of Gilbert."
"There are elements of being that age and going through that which parallel what Gilbert's experiences might have been. It's traumatic for everybody, and especially for a wife. My mom wasn't well. So we all pulled together and did the best we could. And everything worked out fine. Everybody is happy as... a big ball of snot."
"On the surface, Gilbert Grape would seem like a pretty normal guy, but I was interested in what was going on underneath, in the hostility and rage that he has and that he's only able to show a couple of times in the film. I understand the feeling of being stuck in a place, whether it's geographical or emotional. I can understand the rage with wanting to completely escape from it and from everybody and everything you know and start a new life."
"The first time I met Darlene [Cates], I looked beyond her size and I saw this sweet face and these soulful eyes and I thought she was so beautiful. I found her to be very brave to be able to unravel her emotional life in front of the whole world and this from someone who never acted before!"
"It was a hard time for me -- I was just having a weird time myself, personally, which kind of helped me creatively. We were shooting in Austin, Texas, which to me seems like what America must have been in the 1950s. But I was trying to escape from my own brain: I didn't know what was right and what was wrong; I didn't know who was who and who wasn't... It was very confusing. I don't know if I subconsciously made myself miserable for a little bit because I knew that's what the character needed, or if it was just what I had to deal with at that particular time. I was drinking a lot. I poisoned myself regularly. But I've been straight now for about five months."
"It's always taxing to play something that's closer to reality. Those four months were a very difficult time in my life. I just felt awful."
Quotes from others:
"[Depp] has almost a burning desire to make ugly choices. He comes with a physical beauty that's just astonishing, and at the same time he has no interest in being that... When I met him, he had this really long hair. He showed up at the meeting, very quiet, really shy, and was teaching us magic tricks. I thought, 'I suppose he could be Gilbert...'"
--Peter Hedges, author
"He was extremely like Gilbert. But it wasn't something Johnny was trying to do. It naturally came out of him. I never quite understood what he was going through, because it wasn't some big emotional drama that was happening every day on the set - but subtle things I'd see in him would make me question what was going on. There's an element of Johnny that's extremely nice, and extremely cool, but at the same time, he's hard to figure out. But that's what makes him interesting."
"[Depp] has real ambitions, but he is deeply afraid of being considered pretentious."
"A lot of actors and actresses just want to be safe and look really pretty and cool in front of the camera. Johnny's not like that. He's in it for the work and for creating."
"Johnny is able to convey a lot of emotions and feelings without dialogue. He's a very instinctive actor and I needed someone with a face as expressive as his."
"There's a huge part of [Johnny] that's not within your reach. He doesn't casually let himself over to people and let you know who he is. If you're his oldest friend or his lover, perhaps that's not true, but for most people, I think he's both accessible and inaccessible."
"Johnny Depp tapped the inner rage of that character and he knew even more about that character than I realized."
June 16, 2006