If you’ve ever seen the film adaptation of Peter Hedges’ novel What’s Eating Gilbert Grape you’ll remember Darlene Cates. She played the matriarch of the Grape clan, Bonnie Grape, a woman who’d ballooned to more than 500 pounds and relied on her kids to take care of her. Cates, who’d never appeared in films prior to “Grape,” has a compelling back story. She was spotted by “Grape” director Lasse Halstrom after she appeared on an episode of “The Sally Jessy Raphael Show,” about people who were homebound because of their weight.
In a recent interview with The Dallas Morning News Cates revealed that after the movie, her weight continued to be an issue. In 2011, she spent much of the year in the hospital, suffering from weight-related complications. But recently, Cates lost more than 240 pounds, and is down to 331 pounds. She’s looking forward to acting again, but refuses to take roles that lambast or ridicule overweight people. Cates still has trouble walking, but says that she no longer suffers from diabetes and has started doing physical therapy. Here’s hoping we see her on the big screen again soon. [Huffington Post]