Although many of the actors and crew
praised Johnny’s performance and care with all around him during the “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” filming, inside, mentally, Johnny
was having one of the most difficult times he ever had in his personal life. He
was kinda lost emotionally and psychologically. Worried about his
career and with his relationship with Winona, during this time, in his search for an answer, he ended up making bad decisions:
“I poisoned myself constantly; drinking, didn’t eat right, no sleep,
lots of cigarettes… It was really a lonely, really f*cking, lonely time. There
were drugs, too… pills. And there was a danger that I would go over the edge. I
could have, I thank God I didn’t”.
set and during the filming, he never showed what was happening, and kept living his life.
Although he doesn’t like to watch his movies, one day, while he was watching TV, he was got by surprise when “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” began to be screened. “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”
Luckily, 6 months later, when Johnny started to work with Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood”, he had the “chance to stretch out and have some fun”, while working with Martin Landau, “rejuvenated his love for acting”.
With the freedom Johnny finally had during the “Edward Scissorhands” filming, for create, collaborate, express his opinions and make slight changes in
his characters, in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, you can see that something in Johnny’s
appearance was quite awkward…
The first thing, many people noticed was that Johnny’s teeth looked
While people thought it was some kind of denture, in reality he chipped his front teeth! Also, he dyed his dark hair into a orange/red
color as homage to his friend Bones, who saved him after an incident:
When Johnny was around 12 years old,
he was hanging out with his friends and trying to be “cool” as Gene Simmons,
the lead vocalist from KISS. Johnny invented to put a t-shirt in the brushes of
a broom, soak with gasoline and lit it. Then, he put gasoline in his mouth
and tried to breathe fire like Simmons. In the end, Johnny ended-up putting fire in his
face, and Bones jumped on him, putting the flames out with his hands. Luckily
the burns was superficial, and left no scars, but when his mother saw the hurtings, he lied
saying that some fireworks had gone out of control and hit his face.
“- I want a new thing. A house. I want
a new house. And a family. I want Momma to take aerobics classes. I want Ellen
to grow up. I want a new brain for Arnie. I want… I want to be a good person.” – Gilbert Grape
25 years ago, today (December 17), “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” premiered in only 6 selected theaters, for a
limited release in the USA. The movie, which was screened in two festivals in
Italy and United Kingdom two months earlier, had a wider release only in March
of 1994 in the USA and UK, being screened in some countries around the world
on the following months.
The American drama movie, adapted from Peter Hedges’
1991 novel of the same name, was directed by Lasse Hallström, starring Johnny
Depp, Juliette Lewis, Darlene Cates, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The movie was well-received for the public and most of the critics, with great praising for Johnny,
and Johnny’s performance. DiCaprio had his first Academy Award nomination for his role, and Johnny called attention for his fourth drama movie in only three years, after “Edward Scissorhands”, “Arizona Dream” and “Benny & Joon”.
In this movie,
Johnny plays Gilbert Grape, a grocery store clerk caring for his morbidly obese
mother, his sisters, and his mentally impaired younger brother in a sleepy
Living in Endora, is like dancing to
no music. Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) should know. Aside from a secret affair
with a housewife (Mary Steenburgen), Gilbert spends his days stocking shelves
at a grocery store, caring for his mentally handicapped brother (Leonardo
DiCaprio), and holding together a large
family headed by Mamma, a former beauty queen whose weight, now, tops 500
pounds. But just when Gilbert thinks nothing will ever change, a pretty
stranger (Juliette Lewis) arrives on the scene. Capturing Gilbert’s heart and
inspiring him to make a break.
* Busy schedule: 4 months after Johnny
had finished filming for “Benny & Joon” in Washington, He started to film
for “Gilbert Grape” in Texas (although
the movie happens in Endora, Iowa) for 3 months, from November 1992 to
January 1993. 6 months later, when the filmings finished, he started to film
with Tim Burton for “Ed Wood” in California.
* After shooting the scenes with Darlene Cates, who plays Momma, Johnny used
to felt bad about having to ridicule her, and would often apologize to her
after the shootings, sometimes even calling to her hotel at night to apologize
for having to say such bad words. Also, he used to never left the set without
making sure that she had everything she needed and sending her home with a kiss
on the cheek. Johnny also used to apologize Leonardo after being harsh in some scenes.
* While Johnny and Leo became good
friends, in and out the set, Juliette Lewis, who plays Becky, chose to stay
aloof during the three months of filming. She didn’t talk to each other more
than needed. “I worked with him, but I
don’t have a clue of who he is as a person”. She said she rather do her
job, the best she can instead of “do all
that other bullsh*t”.
* Johnny felt a little of Gilbert in
his own past, when he was a teen, stuck in Miramar, Florida, his small-hometown
in Florida. “I know that feeling of wanting to get out,” Depp told the Chicago
Sun-Times in 1994. “Where I grew up in
Miramar, there’s the school, a water tower, a grocery store, a drugstore, and a
pizza joint. A big day was when the pizza joint started selling sub sandwiches.”
“I can understand that feeling of being stuck in a place, whether it is
geographical or emotional. I can understand the rage of wanting to completely
escape from it and from everybody and everything, you know, and start a new
PS: More curiosities on the nexts posts!
“Momma: You’re my knight in shimmering armor. Did you know that?
Gilbert: I think you mean shining.
Momma: No shimmering. You shimmer, and you glow…