In a 2022 profile for GQ, Fraser shared a story about meeting DiCaprio on the Paramount lot after a screening of Lasse Hallström’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Though DiCaprio had turned in a spectacular performance in Michael Caton-Jones’ adaptation of Tobias Wolff’s “This Boy’s Life” a year prior, the film was curiously brushed aside by the studio and critics. So when he took on the role of the intellectually disabled Arnie in Hallström’s film, there was a sense of discovery.
There was also a touch of pandering expressed by the film’s admirers. DiCaprio was 19 years old when the film was released, but he looked much younger than this. He had a babyface, one he wouldn’t fully shed until the early 2000s (circa Scorsese’s “The Aviator”). As a result, people treated him as a child actor, a precocious talent who was more instinctive than trained. He could be the next Timothy Hutton or a film history footnote like Justin Henry.