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Leonardo DiCaprio’s Champion Role; ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?’

Paul Ambrose
Paul Ambrose
Recommended: What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Recommended: What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Ever wonder how great actors get their start?  It happens when they deliver the most stunning performances of their career and then every director in the world starts asking for them after that. This happened to Angelina Jolie in Girl Interrupted and it happened to the megastar Leonardo DiCaprio after his early role in the film ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”  

In this dreamy, idyllic little town, Leonardo plays a mentally handicapped boy from Endora, Iowa.  ‘Nothing much ever happens here and describing Endora is like dancing to no music.’ says Gilbert Grape (played Johnny Depp). 

Gilbert is stuck in the small town of Endora caring for his younger brother named ‘Arnie’ (played by DiCaprio).  He must also care for his enormous ‘whale’ of a mother named Bonnie (played by Darlene Cates). With Bonnie incapable of caring for her own children, Gilbert must take care of Arnie and this makes for some amazing acting on the part of DiCaprio.  He would

The plot of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is also an amazing achievement in that it would seem impossible that a boring old town like Endora could be made into such an interesting and entertaining place throughout this film.  By simply placing a few good characters into its midst, Endora is transformed into a fantastic story with great appeal.  

As Gilbert and the family prepare for Arnie's 18th birthday, a sexy girl named Becky (played by Juliette Lewis) gets stuck in the town and an unusual set of circumstances creates a budding romance between she and Gilbert. The younger brother Arnie also creates some death defying humor by getting himself stuck at the top of a water tower and a death in two different families in Endora ultimately becomes the unavoidable reality that must be faced as the story progresses.

Although What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was not a box-office success, the film was received very well by critics and now has a huge fan base in the home video market. If you are big a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, you have to catch this one which literally catapulted him into stardom and easily remains the greatest role play of a mentally handicapped individual ever to reach the silver screen.

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“What’s Eating Gilbert

“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” was filmed in Manor, Tx except when Leonardo DiCaprio climbed the water tower which is rumored to have been filmed in Bertram, Tx - I have seen the film and have lived near Bertram all of my life so I am familiar with this water tower. I believe this rumor to be true. If there is some way to verify this it would be nice to include this small town in Texas as part of not only Leonardo DiCaprio’s portfolio but Johnny Depp's as well.

We don't get much excitement 'round here.

Before I watched this movie

Before I watched this movie i was already a big Leonardo fan. But when I saw his intensely amazing performance as Arnie he became undoubtibly my favorite actor of all time and most likely forever will be. He is my soul inspiration as an actor and really embody's particularily in this performance what i believe you must do as an actor; take on the character; believe you are the character; become the character.

DUDE - i wanted to know if

DUDE - i wanted to know if the water tower scene was filmed in Bertram. What does your comment have to do with that? Maybe you are a little OCD with this guy. Consider some therapy.


Leonardo DiCaprio is simply amazing as the retarded Arnie. At the time I saw this movie, I didn't know him yet, so at some moments I actually thought that he really could be a retarded actor.