Interesting Facts about Forrest Gump
In 1994, an American classic was made. Robert Lee Zemeckis directed a movie based on a novel by Winston Groom ‘Forrest Gump’. Leading role went to Tom Hanks, who gave one of the best performances in his career. Emotional and funny, the movie was highly rated by critics and viewers, and also performed exceptionally well at the box office. Here are some of the facts that perhaps you didn’t know about this all-time favorite classic:
Bubba Gump Restaurantso
One of Forrest Gump’s war friends, Bubba, had a dream of becoming the king of the shrimp business. Sadly, he died in the Vietnam War, but Forrest Gump went on and fulfilled Bubba’s dream in his honour. In real life, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. has restaurants across the United States and around the world as well. You can find the famous restaurant in China, Japan, Mexico and Malaysia, and in front of every one of them, there is a bench with Forrest’s suitcase on it, and his snickers bellow the bench. The interesting fact is that this restaurant chain didn’t exist before the movie came out.
There is a real footage in the movie from 1968 that was used for a ceremony when Forrest Gump met Lyndon B. Johnson to receive his Medal of Honor. Forrest’s head was digitally superimposed on the body of Sammy L. Davis, who did, in fact, receive this award for his service in Vietnam. This gave the illusion that Forrest was actually standing face to face with President Lyndon Johnson.
The Vietnam War scenes were actually filmed on a golf course on Fripp Island, just off the coast of South Carolina. Of course, computer-generated imagery (CGI) worked its magic to conjure the feeling of the muddy ground, the raucous jungle, the reedy swamps.
Jenny, Forrest Gump’s friend and the girl he loves, dies in the movie just one year after they get married. It was never revealed in the movie what sort of virus killed her, but we are led to believe that the reason was AIDS, since the story took place in the ’80s when this virus was at its peak in the United States. The author Winston Groom, however, had something else in mind when he wrote the book. So in his sequel novel, Bubba & Co., Groom reveals that Jenny, in fact, died from hepatitis C by which she was infected during her drug-usage years.
Forrest’s Famous Accent
Everyone loved Forrest Gump’s strange accent in the movie. It gave the character distinctive charm. Tom Hanks’ co-star Michael Conner Humphrey, who played young Forrest actually had that accent, which Hanks learned to like, so eventually, they decided that Forrest Gump should speak with that accent as well. Michael Conner Humphrey himself got plenty of critical acclaim for this movie, e.g. he received the Young Artist Award.
Tough but vulnerable, Lieutenant Dan, played by Gary Sinise, was one of the important characters in the movie. Crippled by war, Lieutenant Dan’s injuries had to look realistic. In 1994, Hollywood didn’t have the sophisticated special effects it has today, so the digital team had Gary wear a blue fabric that neatly concealed his lower legs, achieving the desired convincing illusion.
Long Scene with Robin
Robin Wright had a bad cold when the nightclub scene was shot. The shooting took all day until they brought the scene to perfection, and for the entire day Robin barely had any clothes on. Nevertheless, she gave a spectacular performance like a true professional.
More CGI Magic
A ping pong match may be interesting to watch, but it is really tough to follow a fast-moving ball which bounces and ricochets off of surfaces faster than the average eye can follow. To shoot such a scene is a challenge by itself, especially when you have actors who are not experienced ping-pong players. So CGI made magic once again. There was no ball bouncing when the match was filmed. The ping-pong ball was added later, designed to hit the paddle and create an illusion of a real match.
Forrest Gump’s war buddy, Bubba, was brilliantly portrayed by actor Mykelti Williamson. Bubba’s distinctive feature was obviously his lower lip. His jutting lip was of course just a prosthetic, which was carefully fitted to look as real as possible. And it was quite a success because many people were really surprised to see Mykelti Williamson without it once the movie was out in theatres.
Mykelti Williamson played the role of Bubba so convincingly, that he actually had difficulties finding another acting job after the ‘Forrest Gump’ movie. This was mainly because all the casting directors thought that this was his true persona. Luckily that changed after Williamson went on “The Late Show With David Letterman.”
When Tom Hanks’ character utters the words “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump,” it quickly became one of the most memorable sentences in the movie. An interesting fact is that this sentence was not in the original script, Tom Hanks improvised it on set. Director Zemeckis liked it and left it in the movie.
Slipped through his Fingers
Tom Hanks was not the only actor who was offered the script for the ‘Forrest Gump’ movie. Among other actors were Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and even John Travolta. Luckily for Hanks, they all declined, and the role awaited the perfect actor for it. John Travolta even admits today that he regrets passing up on the role of Forrest Gump.
The actor who performed the role of Elvis in the movie and did it so persuasively was the famous actor Kurt Russel, who actually was left uncredited at the end. Kurt did a television movie about Elvis in 1979, which probably led him to get this role.
“Run, Forrest! Run!”
Tom Hanks did most of the running in the movie. He actually did a lot of running. However, for the long-distance run shot, the director actually used Tom Hanks’ younger brother Jim, who was quite a runner. It helps when brothers look alike – the director didn’t have to bother finding a movie double for Tom.
In the movie ‘Forrest Gump’ we actually follow Forrest’s formative years, we see him growing up from a young boy, turning into a young man and then into the good-natured slow witted older man. His development occurs in a graceful manner typified by one really subtle detail: in the first scene of each developmental stage, Forrest wears the same blue checkered shirt.
For the hippie sequence in the movie, the director needed a lot of hippie looking people with hairstyles representing that period and fashion that was long gone. The great minds behind the film decided to shoot the scene in the most brilliant way. Instead of casting numerous extras and making them look like hippies, the cast went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival and did the scene there.
The Famous Bench
The most famous bench in the world is the bench where Forrest Gump sat telling his story, while waiting for a bus. Because of its popularity, Savannah officials found that bench to be a bit too much of a treasure and decided to protect it from the unfavourable Savannah weather and possible robbers. So, instead of keeping the bench in Chippewa Square in Savannah, Georgia, they moved it to the Savannah History Museum.
The Speech A Significant Scene
‘Forrest Gump’ was the movie full of significant scenes. One of those was the famous speech Forrest Gump gave in front of an anti-war audience in a rally in Washington, D.C. Of course, we didn’t hear his speech because the microphone plug was pulled out, but the speech actually did happen, and Forrest said these words: “Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas 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.”
Probably the only mistake in the movie occured in a timeline in the running scene. Forrest Gump said that he was running for three years and two months. But he actually started running the day President Carter collapsed from heat in October 1, 1979, and ran until he got Jenny’s letter the day President Regan’s assassination attempt was all over the news. Between the first and the second event, only a year and a half had passed.
The first school bus ride for young Forrest Gump was unpleasant. The kids on the bus greeted him with ridicule. These kids were actually the children of the people making the movie. The boy is director Robert Zemeckis’ son, Alexander, and the girl who shuns Forrest is actually Tom Hanks’ daughter, Elizabeth.
There were some big names of actors who passed up the opportunity to play Bubba. The role of Bubba was originally offered to Ice Cube, David Alan Grier and Dave Chappelle. Ice Cube felt uncomfortable playing a disabled character, David Chappelle thought it was not a good movie to be in, and probably David Alan had a similar reason for not taking the role. In the end, Mykelti Williamson grasped the opportunity and benefited from a box office success.
Bubba Gump restaurants can be found all over the world. Most of them are in the United States, and in some of them there is more than just a shrimp dish experience. In Downtown Disney, fans can see the actual shrimp boat from the movie. Inside one of the restaurants, the ping-pong paddles Forrest Gump used in the movie hang in a key location on the wall where fans can admire them. It has Tom Hanks’ signature on it too.
Forrest Gump’s Mother
Sally Field gave a brilliant performance as Forrest Gump’s loving mother. Although her character appeared to be really old in the movie, the interesting fact is that Sally Field was just over a decade older than Tom Hanks, while performing this role.
During filming, there may be all sorts of complications, like some of the actors actually falling sick. In general, the majority of actors are quite professional and do their job no matter what. They cannot call-in sick and stay home often, while filming takes place. One of those days was during a running scene at a football match. Tom Hanks had a bad flu, but managed to perform this iconic scene despite his condition.
The ‘Forrest Gump’ movie is a true story based on a book. The screenplay is pretty much true to the book, however, there are some differences. For example, in the movie Forrest is portrayed by Tom Hanks as a lovable childlike naive person. In the book, Forrest is a more wry cynic kind of person. In the beginning of the movie, in the scene with the chocolate box Forrest says: “My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” In the book the beginning is different: “Let me say this: bei’n an idiot is no box of chocolates. People laugh, lose patience, treat you shabby. Now they say folks s’posed to be kind to the afflicted, but let me tell you – it ain’t always that way.”
One of the scenes from the movie was cut out because director Zemeckis thought it had racial overtones and might be offensive toward African-American people. The scene featured riot police releasing a German Shepherd dog on Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as Forrest Gump jumps to distract the dogs with a game of fetch. That scene can be viewed on the special collector’s edition DVD.
Forrest Gumps’s Many Talents
In the movie, Forrest Gump has great success in football because of his extraordinary running skills. Following his participation in the Vietnam War, he was a dominant player in an international ping pong championship. But in the novel Gump’s areas of expertise are even bigger: Forrest Gump is a brilliant chess player, an astronaut and a professional wrestler as well.
Film producer Wendy Finerman found the novel ‘Forrest Gump’ very interesting and set out to make it into a movie. It was 1986, and no one shared her enthusiasm in Hollywood. She pitched the idea for nine years, but not until she signed Tom Hanks for the lead role did anyone actually have an interest in this film. Tom Hanks, on the other hand, saw the potential of the story quite quickly. It took him only one and a half hours after reading the script to sign into the movie.
A Lifetime Opportunity
While filming on Capitol Hill the scene of Forrest Gump in Washington DC having returned from Vietnam, director Zemeckis approached a couple of passing by tourists, and asked them to help him with this particular scene. The couple visiting from Atlanta Georgia became actors in the movie, simply because they were in the right place at the right time. They even got to say a few lines. Nothing like timing and a bit of good luck.
Gump & Co.
After the success of his first novel Forrest Gump, Winston Groom wrote a sequel, Gump & Co., with the opening sentence “Don’t never let nobody make a movie of your life’s story.” The reason for this is probably the fact that no one involved with the movie ever acknowledged the author for his novel on which the movie was based. No one thanked him privately, neither, Groom was hugely overlooked.
Not the Big Hit
When the first edition of ‘Forrest Gump’ was published in 1986 it wasn’t an instant hit. Only 30,000 copies were sold. However, it was film producer Wendy Finerman who saw the great potential of this novel and succeeded in making it into a movie. After the success of the movie, 1.6 million books were sold and the book became classic.
In the sequel, Gump & Co., Forrest succeeds in raising his shenanigans on to the next level. He accidentally takes out the Berlin Wall, gets himself involved with the Iran-Contra affair, fights in Desert Storm and experiences many more adventures that create new memories.
The Real Long Run
Back in 1982, a teenager boy, Louis Michael Figueroa, set off on foot from his home in New Jersey to San Francisco. He was only 16, but determined to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society. Forrest Gump’s famous lines in the movie:”I just put one foot in front of the other. When I get tired I sleep. When I get hungry I eat. When I have to go to the bathroom, I go”, were actually slightly modified from the words that Louis said when asked about his historical long run.
Photos of Forrest
Tom Hanks always paid so much attention to details, that if you look closely in every picture that Forrest took in the movie, his eyes are closed. Considering the fact that Tom Hanks is too much of a professional to make such a mistake, we can only assume that this was made on purpose.
Forrest Gump’s House
Forrest Gump grew up in an old plantation-style house that was built specifically for the movie. That house was built so quickly and not up to code, that it had to be demolished, soon after the shooting of the film ended. The house was originally located outside Varnville, South Carolina. The city of Greenbow where Forrest is originally from, doesn’t actually exist.
A Real Deal
Gary Sinise played the character of Lieutenant Dan who led a platoon of soldiers with Forrest and Bubba as soldiers, during the Vietnam War. In the movie, Gary, namely Dan wears a St. Christopher Medal with the inscription “Protect Us in Combat.” That medal belonged to Gary Sinise’s brother-in-law who wore it during his service in Vietnam War.
The scene where Forrest Gump meets iconic Beatles’ member John Lennon was actual footage from the Dick Cavett Show, but for the movie, Yoko Ono was digitally removed and a video of Tom Hanks as Forrest was added instead.
The Soundtrack of the Movie
Forrest Gump was a huge box office success, and its music score was a great a success, as well. Songs like “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield, and “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd sold over 12 million copies. Many of these songs are still big hits all over the world.
Great Year for Movie Fans
Forrest Gump started playing in the theater in 1994, the same year some of the best movies of all times came out like Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption and Jurassic Park. Movie fans from around the world took so much pleasure in watching these films that with time became classics. Among that immense competition, Forrest Gump jumped to number one at the box office and managed to stay in the theatres for all of 42 weeks! It earned astonishing $677 million and became the fourth-highest grossing film ever.
Not Enough Money
For Paramount Pictures ‘Forrest Gump’ didn’t earn enough. With a mere budget of $55 million and grossing $677 million at the box office, the film promotion ended up costing the studio a great deal of money. In the end, the studio was poorer by $62 million.
More Money Issues
During the shooting, there were some money issues. At one point, the studio was 48 hours away from shutting the movie down. Tom Hanks and director Zemeckis eventually shelled out the money out of their own pockets. Hanks even refused to get paid for the movie, and only accepted (percentage) a commission, which in the end earned him $40 million. Forest Gump was described as a “successful failure” in the end, despite the fact that it was among the highest-grossing films ever.
Winston Groom, the author of the ‘Forrest Gump’ novel was only paid $350,000 for the script’s rights. He opted to receive 3% of the movies’ net profits, but the film didn’t end up making a profit, so he was left with zero earnings. Groom entered into a dispute with Paramount Picture, which he later settled, after Paramount bought the rights to a script from another one of Groom’s books.
Despite the fact that Forrest Gump fans would love the opportunity to see its sequel, it seems at this point, unlikely to happen. The reason is no one wants to do it. Most critics say that Forrest Gump’s “successful failure” was just a fluke and that the sequel would certainly be a complete failure. Also, Tom Hanks said that he would never play another role of Forrest because he thinks that the sequel might “ruin what we had done.”
Eric Roth, who won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for ‘Forrest Gump’, and who wrote scripts of many other successful movies such as ‘The Insider,’ ‘Munich,’ ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ and ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,’ did write the sequel after all. The screenplay for the ‘Forrest Gump’ sequel was written and dropped in the mail for submission on September 10, 2001. When 9/11 happened, no one wanted to give it a go.