“Have You Seen Arnie?” Facts About What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Released in 1993, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a drama starring Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, and Darlene Cates. Based on the novel of the same name, it follows Gilbert Grape, a grocery store clerk living in a small town, who cares for his obese mother and mentally disabled younger brother. See how such a simple concept for a movie was a major success and learn behind-the-scenes secrets that few people know!

The Actress That Played Mama Was Discovered On A Talk Show

Picture of Cates
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Mama was played by Darlene Cates, a woman who had spent the last five years inside her house because she was ashamed of her weight. However, she managed to make an appearance on the Sally Jessy Raphael Show in 1992.

Upon seeing Cates’ appearance on the show, screenwriter Peter Hedges sent a copy of the tape to director Lasse Hallstr√∂m, knowing she needed to be in the movie. Cates had no acting experience, but she sure fooled audiences!