Johnny Depp Bullied Leonardo Dicaprio on Set: ‘I Tortured Him’

Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio were two of the biggest heartthrobs of the ‘90s. Yet despite having a ton in common, they weren’t the best of friends on set. At least, according to Depp, they weren’t. The actors starred alongside each other in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, an indie film in which they play brothers. Yet regardless of their on-screen love for one another, Depp believes he “tortured” DiCaprio during the making of the film.

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp | Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio star in ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’

In 1993, Depp was just on the brink of receiving critical acclaim from the masses. In the 1980s, the actor was mostly known for his role on the TV series 21 Jump Street. It wasn’t until 1990 that Depp was able to break free from his “teen heartthrob” Hollywood label to play more eccentric characters with genuine depth. This is thanks to Tim Burton, who cast Depp in the leading role of Edward Scissorhands.

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp | Deborah Feingold/Getty Images

Meanwhile, DiCaprio was only a teen while filming What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, yet he was already tackling heavy roles .   

In the movie, Depp and DiCaprio play brothers in a fictitious podunk town in Iowa. DiCaprio’s character has autism, and Depp’s character struggles to look after him. According to Depp, DiCaprio worked incredibly hard on his role and did a ton of research to bring justice to the part. Yet despite Depp’s respect for DiCaprio’s dedication, he admits they weren’t exactly the best of friends behind the scenes.

Johnny Depp claims he ‘tortured’ Leonardo DiCaprio while shooting ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’

Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp
Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp attend “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” Premiere | Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Anyone who has seen What’s Eating Gilbert Grape will notice the powerful tension between DiCaprio and Depp’s characters. As it turns out, it wasn’t super difficult to create that tension because Depp admits there was heat between the actors behind the scenes. The Pirates of the Caribbean actor confesses he had a hard time during shooting and that it played a role in how he treated DiCaprio.

“It was a hard time for me, that film, for some reason,” Depp reveals, according to Cosmopolitan. “I don’t know why. I tortured him. I really did.” 

The actor further explains his relationship with DiCaprio. “He was always talking about these video games, you know? I told you it was kind of a dark period,” Depp says, adding, “‘No, I will not give you a drag of my cigarette while you hide from your mother again, Leo.’”

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio | Barry King/WireImage

But regardless of the “dark period” Depp faced during the film, he reveals how much he respects DiCaprio as an actor. “I’d say the absolute truth is that I respect Leo a lot,” Depp says. “He worked really hard on that film and spent a lot of time researching. He came to set and he was ready to work hard, and all his ducks were in a row.”

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder had just broken off their engagement during this time

Depp admits to having a “dark period” while filming Grape. There is a good chance this has something to do with his public split with his then-fiance, Winona Ryder. Depp and Ryder were together for three years, and after only five months of dating, Depp popped the question. The actor was so committed to Ryder that he got a tattoo on his bicep saying “Winona Forever.” After the split, he changed it to “Wino Forever.”

Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder | Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

RELATED: Why Johnny Depp Was ‘Never the Same’ After His Break Up With Winona Ryder

Ryder recalls their romance in a 2001 interview with Cinema.com, claiming she might never find a love like the one she shared with Depp. “I had my first real relationship with Johnny,” she says. “A fiercely deep love, that I don’t know that I’ll ever… The first love is like that, isn’t it? I don’t know. It was a real wild time, back then.”