When an acting career spans more than four decades it’s easy to forget someone’s earlier work.
That’s the case for Leonardo DiCaprio who starred in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape when he was just 19 years old. Those who haven’t seen the movie need to do so quickly because it’s leaving Netflix at the end of this month.
The movie follows Gilbert Grape who struggles to take up the mantle of father figure within his family who relies on him for survival. He attempts to make ends meet by working a low-wage job at a dying convenience store but he struggles to find time for his own happiness. This is compounded by the fact he is responsible for taking care of his mentally challenged brother and his morbidly obese mother.
Dicaprio plays the mentally challenged younger brother throughout the film and did such an excellent job he was nominated for his first Oscar in 1994 for Best Supporting Actor. He starred opposite Johnny Depp who played the titular role of Gilbert Grape. Depp later revealed he had a very difficult time working with the young DiCaprio on set and he ended up torturing DiCaprio throughout filming.
The movie was adapted from the Peter Hedges novel of the same name that was published in 1991. When the film was released just a couple of years later in 1993, it bombed at the box office only pulling in $10 million which was less than its estimated budget. This isn’t an accurate representation of the film however as it was loved by critics who gave it a 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
With only a few days left to watch What’s Eating Gilbert Grape before it leaves Netflix, it would be a shame to miss DiCaprio in one of the earliest film roles of his career.