1994 was a big year for not only Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis who made a groundbreaking film, but for Americans as a whole. ‘Forrest Gump’ resonated deeply with everyone who saw it. I have yet to hear anyone say that they didn’t like the movie. The movie won about half of the Oscars it was nominated for, and it’s studied in film schools. Clearly, the movie made a serious impact.
But as popular as the movie was and still is, there are tons of things that remain mostly unknown. Be it massive bloopers, meanings of scenes, and good ol’ trivia. So if you’re a Forrest Gump fan (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?), then you’ll enjoy this.
Who can forget Forrest’s war buddy Bubba whose lifelong passion was to take over the shrimping business? He even asked Forrest to join him in his business venture once the war was over. But sadly, Bubba never got to see the end of the war.
But the good news is that Bubba’s legacy lives on! The seafood restaurant actually exists, and you can visit any of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. locations across the United States and even around the world. Other countries that have Bubba Shrimp locations include China, Japan, Mexico, and Malaysia.
One of the many amazing things about the movie was how they made it look like Forrest was really a part of real-life historical events. Like when Forrest meets Lyndon B. Johnson to receive his Medal of Honor for bravery in Vietnam.
That bit of real video came from the 1968 ceremony of Sammy L. Davis, who really did receive the prestigious award for his service in Vietnam. Hanks’s face was digitally placed onto Davis’s body to give the illusion that he was standing face-to-face with President Johnson. They did a good job. Well done crew!
I think most people are aware that the film crew didn’t go to Vietnam to film the movie’s war scenes. It’s Hollywood, after all. And they managed to achieve a convincing landscape and atmosphere, with all the mud, jungles, and swamps. So how did they do it?
This may be hard to believe, but the war scenes were filmed on a golf course on Fripp Island, off the coast of South Carolina. And all that sprawling green of the fields and the wild jungle feel? Well, that was all CGI magic.
Forrest’s love interest from his childhood and well into his adult years was Jenny Curran (Jennay). But sadly, she fell victim to an unknown virus and died just one year after the two got married. The virus was never named but the fact that it took place during the AIDS crisis, the audience safely assumed that she died of the AIDS virus.
And it’s only fair that a film that highlighted key moments in American history would include the AIDS epidemic in some way. But apparently, the author who wrote the book in which the movie was based on (“Forrest Gump” by Winston Groom), didn’t have that in mind. In Groom’s sequel novel, “Bubba & Co.,” he reveals that Jenny was rather infected with hepatitis C as a result of her drug usage.
One of the reasons why we all fell in love with Tom Hanks’s portrayal of Forrest Gump was because of his distinct Alabama accent. Hanks doesn’t have a natural southern accent, so it took effort and time. And practice makes perfect. But it also helped him to use someone’s voice for inspiration.
Hanks modeled the accent after one of his costars, Michael Conner Humphreys, who played the young version Forrest in the movie. Humphreys went on to earn praise for his acting, having won a Young Artist Award.
Lieutenant Dan, Lieutenant Dan. Sure, he was worn out and jaded and wanted to give up on the world, but we came to see that there was a lot to love about him. And Gary Sinise did an excellent job at portraying such a troubled and intricate character. But how did they make him look like he lost his legs?
Getting his injuries to look realistic was an accomplishment of cinematic technology. Sinise sat in his wheelchair, and it appeared as he had no legs. But it was the digital team that had him wear a blue fabric that concealed his lower legs, and the rest was done in post-production. Again, nice work!
Robin Wright, who played the conflicted character Jenny, gave quite a memorable performance when she strummed away at her guitar while being completely naked. It was a relatively short scene that took place in a long movie, but the scene took a while to create.
A lot was working against Wright when it came to filming the scene. It in total, what would amount to a day to get the scene done right. Wright was also sick for a large part of the filming, trying hard to work through sniffles and a runny nose. And that can’t be easy to do in your birthday suit!
Even in 1994, CGI was pretty impressive. The movie had so many amazing moments where I can remember just thinking – “How did they do that?” Take this scene, for example, when Forrest had his ping pong tournament.
Ping pong on its own is a difficult thing to film since that little ball is constantly flying and in the air. So technically, it’s a difficult scene to film. But CGI played a large part in those scenes. That ball that you see flying between Forrest and his opponent in the tournament wasn’t real; it was crafted carefully and designed to hit the paddle in order to create the illusion of impressive ping pong skills.
Mykelti Williamson, who played Bubba, looked and played the part so well that many of us overlooked one very recognizable feature: his lower lip. Yes, it was Bubba’s most noticeable characteristic. But did you know that it wasn’t real?
Bubba’s jutting lower lip was in fact just a prosthetic. He was fitted for it, which took quite a long time to perfect. But that’s how they made it look so convincing. People were shocked when they saw the Williamson off the set, with normal sized lips, making him almost unrecognizable.
Believe it or not, Mykelti Williamson’s role as Bubba ended up hurting his career. The problem was that Williamson was so convincing in his part that most people just figured that director Zemeckis “had discovered some weird-looking guy and put him in front of the camera.”
Regrettably, for Williamson, that’s what casting directors thought, too. The actor later claimed that performing in the movie made it very difficult for him to find work afterward. And his appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman” helped him clear the air. He did, however, get roles in ‘Con Air,” ‘Boomtown,’ and ’24’ among others.
The line “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump” is one of the most memorable lines in not just the movie, but in movie history. When Forrest uttered these simple words, it was so authentic and endearing, that it became a quotable phrase.
But the best part is that line wasn’t even in the original script. As he was preparing for his character, Tom Hanks brainstormed and played around with the phrase on set. Director Robert Zemeckis liked the line and allowed Hanks to say it on camera. I think it paid off. Don’t you?
I can’t even imagine an actor playing such a character like Forrest Gump other than the incredible Tom Hanks. He played the sensitive, simple, and sweet character to flawlessly, that it’s almost a shame to even imagine someone else instead. But as it goes in most films, other actors auditioned for the role.
Some of the other actors that were considered to play Forrest included Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and John Travolta. What? I was also shocked. As talented as they may be, they just don’t suit the role! Fortunately for Hanks (and us), they all declined.
Someone involved in creating Forrest Gump went uncredited. He was in a very brief but important part of the movie. That scene where little Forrest met Elvis Presley? Well, that was actually Kurt Russell, who did a really convincing job providing his signature voice!
You won’t see his name in the credits, though. But if you want to see Kurt Russell in a full-on Elvis impersonation, you can watch him in the 1979 made-for-television movie ‘Elvis.’
‘Forrest Gump’ was the movie in which we got to meet the talented young star Haley Joel Osment, who was only four years old when the movie was filmed. Of course, when you’re that young, you have no idea what is really going on around you. And when Tom Hanks received his AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, Osment admitted that he had thought that he was actually the lead role and not Hanks. Cute…
Osment played the role of Forrest Gump Jr. in the movie, and it took him a while to realize that he wasn’t Forrest Gump himself. The movie really jump-started Osment’s acting career. He landed starring roles in ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘Pay It Forward.’
“Run, Forrest! Run!” There’s another line from the movie that is still quoted until today. Funnily enough, Forrest was literally running for large portions of the movie. Tom Hanks, however, wasn’t much of a runner. But his brother was.
Tom’s brother, Jim Hanks, was actually a runner. And guess what? He happens to look a lot like Tom, too. So it was a simple and easy solution for the filmmakers. They swapped Tom for Jim whenever a scene called for Forrest to run long-distance.
‘Forrest Gump’ is a true coming of age film where we get to see Forrest grow up. Watching the kind-hearted child grow up yet continue to be the same good-natured soul is one of the highlights of the film. And the way it was done was superb.
His growth in the movie happens in graceful transitions. These transitions were so subtle that you might have missed one detail. In the first scene of each of one of these transitions, Forrest is seen sporting the same shirt, which is blue with a plaid pattern.
If you remember the hippie scene, you might recall seeing all those hippie hairstyles. You might also have wondered who was responsible for making those hairdos look just right even though the scene was just a couple of moments.
That particular scene was shot at a place where people were donning long and unruly hair. But no, it wasn’t at a hippie commune. The filmmakers decided to take the crew to a creative place where people went took fashion to all kinds of places: the Maryland Renaissance Festival.
‘Forrest Gump’ has its share of iconic scenes and moments, including objects like the floating feather. But another iconic object from the movie is the bench that Forrest sat on while waiting for his bus in Savannah, Georgia. So what became of that bench?
After the making of the film, officials in Savannah thought that the bench was too valuable to leave it vulnerable to the public. It would be a shame if it got covered in graffiti or even stolen. So the bench was removed, and you can see it for yourself at the Savannah History Museum.
Yet another moving moment from the movie when Forrest stands up and gives his speech alongside all of the veterans of the war. He stood proud yet nervous before the eager audience in Washington, D.C., to give a speech.
And for obvious dramatic effect, the microphone cut out, and no one actually heard what he had to say. But here’s what he actually did say: “Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mamas without any legs. Sometimes they don’t go home at all. That’s a bad thing. That’s all I have to say about that.”
Here’s a blooper that many of us missed in the movie. It took place in the timeline of the running scene. In the movie’s narration, Forrest said that he was running for three years and two months. But if you paid close attention, you would have noticed that it didn’t add up.
Forrest started running on the day that President Carter collapsed from heat stroke on October 1, 1979. But by the time he got Jenny’s letter after the race, President Reagan’s assassination attempt was breaking news, making his run only around a year and a half.
One of the more heartbreaking moments in the film happened early on when Forrest Gump boarded the school bus for the first time. He was denied a seat next to his peers – not once, but twice. Poor thing. But those kids weren’t just any kids from the nearby town.
In fact, the two of those child actors who refused to let Forrest sit beside them are children of people involved in the film. The boy on the right is Alexander, the son of director Robert Zemeckis. And the girl? Well, that’s Tom Hanks’s own daughter, Elizabeth.
As it turns out, John Travolta wasn’t the only one to turn down a major role in this film that ended up making major bucks in the box office. Several other big names had the chance to play Forrest’s friend Bubba but chose not to.
Some of the actors that turned down the role of Bubba were Ice Cube, David Alan Grier, and Dave Chappelle. And each actor had a reason for declining the part. Ice Cube felt uncomfortable playing a disabled character. But Dave Chappelle said he just didn’t imagine the film doing all that well. Big mistake, fellas.
The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is just one of the things that keep Bubba’s legacy living on. But there’s something else that also keeps his name alive. If you go to Orlando, Florida, you’re in for a treat. And it’s something that could be fun for the whole family.
In Downtown Disney, you can see the actual shrimp boat that was used in ‘Forrest Gump’ next to a moat that surrounds the restaurant. And if you go into the restaurant for a bite to eat, you can see one of the ping pong paddles that Tom Hanks used in the film.
We learned early on that Forrest had a close relationship with his mother. He transmitted much of his wisdom that she taught him throughout his life. But the funny thing is that Sally Field, who played his mother, was close to his age.
Sally Field was not that much older than Tom Hanks during the filming of the movie. She was about a decade older than him. But she managed to play the part incredibly well and made everyone wish their mother was as loving as her.
Let’s face it – no one wants to go to work when they’re sick. But what if you’re an actor and the very expensive production has its timeline, and things need to be done on time? Calling in sick when you’re shooting a high-budget film isn’t so easy.
Tom Hanks happened to get very sick with the flu on a very important day of shooting. He was going to appear in the football running scene, and he made himself get to “work” that day.
The film version of ‘Forrest Gump’ differs somewhat from the novel it was based on. Most of the changes that were made for the movie concerned the character of Forrest Gump. In the film, he’s lovable and naïve, but Groom’s novel depicted a more cynical character. But one of the biggest modifications centered on one of the film’s most memorable lines – the box of chocolates one.
In the book, the quote was: “Let me say this: bei’n a idiot is no box of chocolates. People laugh, lose patience, treat you shabby. Now they says folks s’posed to be kind to the afflicted, but let me tell you – it ain’t always that way. Even so, I got no complaints, cause I reckon I done live a pretty interestin’ life, so to speak.”
Forrest got to meet a bunch of famous and historical figures, like Elvis Presley, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, and Richard Nixon. But one famous figure was later cut out from the movie completely – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The scene featured riot police releasing German shepherds onto King Jr. and his supporters. Forrest jumped in and distracted them with a game of fetch. The director chose to leave the scene out because people felt it cheapened the real injustice of racial inequality and was seen in bad taste. But you can see this scene on the special collector’s edition DVD.
The movie showed us a rather talented version of Forrest Gump who could do many things, including being on a major football team and fighting in Vietnam. But the original novel involved even more skills and professions for our beloved main character.
Author Winston Groom illustrated his leading character as a man of many talents who did a variety of things: a premier chess player, a professional wrestler, and even an astronaut. But hey, you can only fit so much into one film.
Forrest discovered by chance that he was really good at ping pong. He found out while recovering from the wounds that he incurred in the war. A fellow soldier taught him how to play the game. And Forrest ended up going far with it.
He was told never to take his eyes off the ball. And if you pay close attention, Tom Hanks’s gaze indeed never drifts from the ball. He doesn’t even do as much as blink. Perhaps Tom Hanks had some real-life experience in ping pong.
Although people fell in love with the movie, it should be known that the film was difficult to make, to say the least. The project wasn’t exactly easy to get off the ground. In 1985, producer Wendy Finerman read the novel and saw its potential to be a feature-length film. But no one agreed with her.
She pitched the idea to more than one Hollywood big shot, but she failed to convince them to take the chance. But once she got hold of Tom Hanks, the project took a positive spin. He was instantly sold and thanks to his faith in the film, we got to see one of the best movies ever made.
Imagine getting the chance to appear, even briefly, in a blockbuster movie simply because you happened to be at the right place at the right time? That’s what happened to one lucky tourist who was walking around Capitol Hill with his wife while the movie was being filmed there.
He and his wife from Atlanta, Georgia were approached by the crew and asked to read some lines from a script. That lucky man ended up being the impromptu reported who was on the scene at Forrest Gump’s appearance in Washington, DC!
It’s hard to deny the southern charm that the movie entails. It’s based in Alabama, and Forrest’s southern accent is downright charming. But the movie was actually mostly filmed in a different southern state. But we’re not talking about California.
Many scenes were shot in Beaufort, South Carolina. And we also got to see scenes from coastal Virginia and North Carolina as well. Georgia also made some key appearances. Pictured above is Chippewa Square, in Georgia.
Remember the scene at the peace rally at Lincoln Memorial? It was chaotic and full of people, not only in the scene but in real life. Directing 1,500 extras to do what you want when you want them to do it is no easy task. And the scene was actually supposed to have way more than that.
It was thanks to masters of digital editing that made expanding that crowd looks real. The trick was to get all those extras in the proper place. It took about two whole days to achieve, but it was worth the effort. The end result was an impressive scene!
On the first page of Winston Groom’s sequel novel, “Bubba & Co.,” Forrest narrates by saying, “Don’t never let nobody make a movie of your life’s story.” It sounds like it was a jab at the directors of Forrest Gump. And if you read the first book and thought it was a bit peculiar, the second really takes the cake.
In “Bubba & Co.,” Forrest accidentally takes out the Berlin Wall, gets involved with the Iran-Contra ordeal, battles in Operation Desert Storm with a chimp and even crashes the Exxon Valdez. I don’t think this sequel is going to be made into a film anytime soon.
Did you know that Gump’s cross-country jog was inspired by a real event? At the age of 16, Louis Michael Figueroa made the news when he ran across the United States from New Jersey to San Francisco. And the story is quite uplifting.
In 1982, Louis Michael Figueroa set off from his home state of New Jersey on foot. His intention was to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society. Figueroa said this line, which appeared in the film only modified to better fit Forrest’s character: “When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go to the bathroom, I went.”
Can we all agree that Tom Hanks is a pretty photogenic guy? Just watch ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and try not to find him adorable. But playing Forrest Gump, on the other hand, was quite unlike his other roles and even his natural self.
And it has nothing to do with Forrest himself being a bad looking guy. He’s not! But if you look closely at all of the still shots featured in the film, you’ll notice that in each and every photo, he always has his eyes closed. Eyes open Gump!
That old plantation-style house that Forrest grew up in wasn’t so old after all. I don’t think it would have been hard to find a stately plantation estate in the South, but that home which looked like it’s been there for over a century was actually built specifically for the movie.
The house was located outside Varnville, South Carolina, and according to the cast members, it was built quickly, and it wasn’t up to building codes. It was also demolished after shooting ended. The town in the film, Greenbow, Alabama, doesn’t actually exist, by the way.
Lieutenant Dan led Forrest and Bubba’s platoon in the Vietnam War. Lt. Dan was said to have lost ancestors in every American war, and he wears a rosary with a St. Christopher medal with words “Protect Us In Combat” inscribed on it.
The necklace wasn’t just another prop, though. It belonged to Gary Sinise’s brother-in-law who wore it during his actual service in the Vietnam War. It looks like Gary Sinise thought hard about what would be a perfect addition to his character.
Many amazing films are based on even more amazing novels. Look at ‘To a Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘A Clockwork Orange’ for example. And most people either forget or don’t know that Forrest Gump can be included in that list too.
The book was published in 1986, written by Winston Groom. The film stayed loyal to the book’s main details, like the Vietnam War, the shrimping endeavors, and even the ping pong tournament. But it cleaned up a lot of the book’s language. The novel version of Forrest wasn’t as wholesome as Hanks played him.
If you’re a writer, you understand the joy that comes from knowing that you inspired another artist to create. You would expect Winston Groom to be pleased that his novel inspired such a monumental film.
But sadly, not one person involved in the film ever acknowledged the author. He wasn’t acknowledged in any of the acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards. He apparently didn’t get a paycheck for his indirect contribution to one of the most successful movies either.