Perhaps best known as the obese mother in the 1993 dysfunctional family film What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Darlene Cates will have to be auditioning for more slimmed down roles as she has lost an impressive 244 lbs (that's 17 stone).

The 64-year-old actress shed the pounds to go from 575 pounds to 331 pounds after suffering severe health problems and having to undergo four surgeries and facing three near-death experiences. Health setbacks saw Cates being hospitalized for 11 months until last November following her numerous health scares. Whilst she is still struggling to walk, Cates has told of how she hopes to be able to fit into a wheelchair soon.

Cates told all about her numerous battles with her health and weight to local US paper The Dallas Morning News, revealing that now she has lost some weight she would love to return to acting once more.

For her role in ...Gilbert Grape, Cates took on the role of the mother of Gilbert and Arnie, played by Johnny Depp and Leonardo Dicaprio respectively, who after her husband's suicide struggles with depression and obesity, eventually becoming housebound.

Meanwhile Depp, playing protagonist and oldest son Gilbert, spends most of the time caring for his mentally disabled younger brother (DiCaprio). The film also starred Juliette Lewis as Gilbert's love interest and Mary Steenburgen as his mistress.