33 Things You Didn’t Know About Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is the heart-warming tale of a slow-witted guy from Greenbow, Alabama who ends up living the most amazing life. He grows up in the Deep South with his mother and best friend Jenny, before embarking on an amazing adventure which sees him playing all-star college football, saving his platoon in Vietnam and even playing ping-pong against the Chinese national team!
The film spans the period between Forrest’s birth in 1944 and the moment that his young son attends school in 1982. It’s based loosely on the novel by Winston Groom, but many aspects of the original tale were changed for the big screen adaptation. At the centre of the heart-warming tale is Forrest’s love for Jenny, a troubled and flighty wild child who eventually ends up marrying her good-natured childhood friend.
The cast featured plenty of stars including Hanks, Robin Wright, Sally Field and Gary Sinise, plus a notable performance by Mykelti Williamson as Forrest’s good friend (and shrimp enthusiast) Bubba. Along the way, we see some of the most pivotal events in US and world history, from the civil rights movement to the Watergate scandal.
To celebrate this classic movie, we’ve brought you 33 things you didn’t know about Forrest Gump. Scroll down the article to find out more!
33. Gary Sinise had a fateful line in the movie
At one point in the movie, Forrest is telling Lieutenant Dan about his plans to become a shrimp boat captain.
He even offers to take on Dan as his first mate, but the ex-army vet refuses and says: “The day you become a shrimp boat captain is the day I become an astronaut!”
Funnily enough, Gary Sinise starred in Apollo 13 the very next year, with none other than…Tom Hanks!
So Forrest became a shrimp boat captain and Lieutenant Dan did go into space:
Apparently Forrest Gump was an astronaut in the novel, but this part was cut out of the movie.
Instead we see Forrest become a successful businessman and philanthropist (against all the odds), as well as a decorated war hero and a ping-pong player.
32. Tom Hanks copied his accent from the actor who played Young Forrest
Michael Conner Humphreys played Young Forrest in the movies.
Humphreys earned himself a Young Artist Award for his performance, which helped bring to life Forrest’s younger years growing up in Alabama.
One of the most noticeable aspects of Humphreys’ performance was his Southern drawl – Humphreys is from Independence, Mississippi and casting directors were instantly taken with his distinctive voice.
In fact, it was so impressive that Tom Hanks decided to model his own accent after Humphreys’ drawl.
Humphreys won his part after attending an open casting call in Memphis, Tennessee.
The casting agency was looking for “a young Tom Hanks with light eyes and a quirky disposition.”
31. Hanks waived his actor’s fee for the movie
Believe it or not, Hanks didn’t get paid a salary for his role in Forrest Gump.
Instead, the actor decided to go one better and gambled on the movie being a big success.
Hanks waived his actor’s fee in favour of percentage points from the film’s taking, and earned himself a whopping $40 million dollars in total!
Hanks reportedly agreed to star in the film only 1.5 hours into reading the original script.
However, there was one point that was particularly important to Hanks.
He said that he would only participate in the movie if the storyline was kept historically accurate.
30. Greenbow, Alabama doesn’t actually exist
Despite leading such an amazing life, Forrest always stayed true to his roots.
His hometown of Greenbow, along with his home state of Alabama, play an important role in his upbringing.
However, did you know that Greenbow doesn’t actually exist? It’s only a fictional town in the Deep South.
And there’s more…remember Forrest’s family home? It features heavily in the movie and most people would agree that it’s an impressive-looking building.
Part of the home’s appeal was how old it looked – as though it had been built in a previous century.
However, did you know that the house was merely a prop? It was built especially for the film and was made to look older.
29. The film was a real family affair
Everybody knows that Tom Hanks is the star of the movie.
But quite a few of his family members managed to bag themselves roles in the hit film too. Remember the girl who doesn’t let young Forrest sit next to her on the bus?
That’s Tom Hank’s daughter, Elizabeth! Robert Zemeckis directed the film and his son also starred as one of the kids on the bus who are quite happy to say ‘Seat’s taken’ to poor Forrest.
Elizabeth Hanks is the only member of Tom’s family to nab a credit in the movie. Remember all of those running scenes that featured Forrest in his long beard and cap?
Hanks got his younger brother Jim to fill in for him on some of the wide shots.
Tom wasn’t much of a runner, but Jim was an athlete and agreed to step in for his big bro!
28. Jenny’s mystery illness is explained in the book
In the film, Jenny’s terminal illness is never revealed.
Many people assume that she died of HIV/AIDS due to her heavy drug use – the disease was also an epidemic at the time so this would have made sense in historical terms.
However, in the book, author Winston Groom makes it clear that Jenny is suffering from Hepatitis C.
This is another disease that can be contracted from dirty needles.
It can also lead to complications such as liver cancer and lymphomas.
In the movie, Jenny explains to Forrest that the doctors don’t know what it is and they can’t do anything about it.
27. Lieutenant Dan’s necklace was really from Vietnam
Remember that necklace that Lieutenant Dan is constantly wearing?
This was an actual rosary worn by a soldier who fought in the Vietnam War.
The necklace is a wooden rosary with a Saint Christopher medal attached, and it belongs to Gary Sinise’s brother-in-law, Jack Treese.
Apparently it was engraved with the words ‘Protect Us In Combat’. In Forrest Gump, we see plenty of scenes from Forrest’s time in the Vietnam war.
But none of them were actually shot in Vietnam – this would have cost far too much money.
Instead the ‘Vietnam’ we see on-screen is actually a golf course in South Carolina! Ocean Greek Golf Course on Fripp Island is the location of Forrest’s act of heroism. The background was added in later using CGC.
26. John Travolta passed up the opportunity to play the lead character
John Travolta must have been cursing himself after that one.
Travolta was offered the title role of Forrest Gump and turned it down – before later admitting that he had made a huge mistake.
He wasn’t the only star to miss out on the role – comedy actor Bill Murray turned down the role too, and instead Hanks received the part.
Robert Zemeckis was not the first choice to direct the movie either.
Directors Terry Gilliam and Barry Sonnenfeld were both offered the top spot behind the camera but turned it down.
We bet they were regretting it after those Oscars started rolling in!
25. Forrest Gump received a lot of military honours
One of the most heartbreaking scenes in Forrest Gump occurs during his time serving in Vietnam.
Gump rescues most of his platoon from an ambush (including a very reluctant Lieutenant Dan) but sadly his friend Bubba doesn’t make it.
However, when he returns to the USA he is celebrated as a war hero and receives plenty of accolades from the American government.
The full list of his medals reads as follows: Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Infantry Shoulder Cord, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Badge and Meritorious Unit Commendation.
Wow! No wonder he gets to go to the White House so many times.
Although we’re guessing he didn’t get a medal from Nixon for accidentally reporting the Watergate scandal to police.
24. Hanks once revealed what he was really saying into the microphone at the protest march
Forrest is shoved in front of a load of microphones and addresses a huge anti-war rally at the Capitol.
However, his speech is temporarily sabotaged and after the mic is unplugged, the audience only hears silence.
Tom Hanks once revealed that his speech went as follows: “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.”
The crowd that’s trying to listen to the speech looks as though it must number in the hundreds of thousands.
However, apparently there were only 1,500 extras involved in this scene.
Instead, over the course of two days, the extras were moved to different parts of the square and were later digitised into a crowd of several hundred thousands. You wouldn’t have to do all that with today’s special effects!
23. One of the most famous lines in the movie was completely improvised
There are so many great quotes from Forrest Gump.
In particular, he has a very unique way of introducing himself to other people (“My name’s Forrest, Forrest Gump”). But one famous introduction occurs after he first meets Bubba on the way to army training.
Bubba says: “My given name is Benjamin Buford Blue, but people call me ‘Bubba’.”
To which Forrest replies: “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.”
However, this hilarious line was completely ad-libbed by Tom Hanks on the day.
The director loved it so much that he kept it in the final cut of the movie.
22. Forrest has a habit of wearing blue plaid
Even if you’ve watched the movie countless times, you might have missed this amazing fact…
Forrest transitions into different stages of his life a number of times over the course of the movie.
And the costume department decided to have some fun with this and make sure that his clothing always had a thread running through it, so to speak.
At the beginning of each age transition, Forrest is always wearing a blue plaid shirt.
Crazy! We never noticed this one before.
Even his son, Forrest Jr., wears a blue plaid shirt on his first day at school.
21. The ‘Bubba Gump Shrimp Company’ is now a worldwide chain
Bubba was Forrest’s best friend in the army, and he made good on his word to go into the shrimping business after the war was over.
Bubba’s family are bemused at first, but with a little help from Lieutenant Dan (and Hurricane Carmen) the pair strike gold.
Forrest takes care of Bubba’s family while never having to worry about money for the rest of his life.
Well, a fan of the movie took inspiration from this entrepreneurial success and decided to open a Forrest Gump-themed shrimp restaurant.
The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company was founded in 1996 by Tim Busald and Gail Taggart.
It now has over 33 locations around the world.
20. Hanks never blinks when he is playing ping-pong
Fans of the movie will know that Forrest becomes a ping-pong ace while he’s recovering in the hospital.
One of his fellow patients passes him a paddle and tells Forrest to “always keep your eye on the ball”.
Of course, Forrest takes this advice a little bit too literally and instantly becomes a ping-pong ace.
However, the table tennis scenes presented a very specific challenge for Tom Hanks. In order to keep his performance 100% true to the character, Hanks doesn’t blink whenever the ball is in motion.
If you re-watch the ping-pong scenes, you’ll notice that Hanks doesn’t blink once when he is playing table tennis.
That must have been so hard!
19. One of the Washington DC reporters was randomly picked off the street
When Forrest is attending the Capitol Hill march, he gets hounded by reporters.
It’s only a minor scene in the film, but they keep shoving microphones in his face and the whole episode looks very realistic.
It turns out that one of these reporters wasn’t an actor at all, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
The man was a tourist from Atlanta, Georgia who was in the middle of visiting Washington DC when the scene was about to be filmed. Casting agents must have liked the look of him because they asked him to read the part and he immediately won the role. Cool!
So where did they find all of the groovy 60s extras for that anti-Vietnam march?
Apparently the casting directors went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival because it was known for being a good place to nab some performers with long, hippie hair.
18. Gary Sinise’s legs had to be wrapped in blue fabric
Gary Sinise plays Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump.
Lieutenant Dan goes through a tragic journey in the film – he starts off as a commanding military officer but emerges as a bum who is still trying to deal with the loss of his legs.
Of course, in reality, Sinise has two perfectly good legs – so how did they get rid of them?
Special effects weren’t as high-tech in those days, so Sinise had to wrap the lower half of his legs in blue fabric. This meant that the effects team could edit out his legs later on.
Speaking of special effects, did you know that Tom Hanks has his face superimposed on the body of Sammy L. Davis, the real-life war hero?
President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Davis the Medal of Honor on November 19th, 1968, and Hanks was superimposed onto Davis’ face for the film. Nice!
17. Forrest’s running was based on a real human being
The idea that Forrest could run across America actually seemed like one of the more far-fetched storylines in the film.
So it’s pretty amazing to think that this feat was based on a real human being.
Apparently the story was inspired by a teenager named Louis Michael Figueroa.
When he was 16 years old, he decided to run the width of the country, from New Jersey to San Francisco in 1982.
We’re guessing after that he ‘got tired’ and ‘wanted to go home’.
Since then, several other people have tried to run the length of America. Rather them than us!
16. Tom Hanks messed about with some of the film’s props
At one point in the film, Forrest makes a huge amount of money from playing ping pong.
He gets plenty of sponsorship deals and they even start making cardboard cut outs of him like the one below:
Notice how silly his eyes look in this pose?! That was a deliberate choice by Hanks. Why?
He wanted to make sure that he didn’t look photogenic on any of the still photos of Forrest used in the movie.
He felt that this kind of awkwardness was more true to the character.
We have to agree with him there!
15. Robin Wright had to sit in the nude for 24 hours
There’s an infamous scene when Jenny is trying to get her music career off the ground.
Hanks goes to visit his childhood sweetheart in a nude bar, where she’s playing guitar on stage without any clothes on.
Apparently Robin Wright had to sit completely nude for over 24 hours while filming these scenes. And to make matters worse, she had influenza at the time!
Wright must have passed on the illness to her co-star, because Hanks also had his fair share of the flu during filming.
Apparently in the scene above where a heartbroken Forrest just decides to run, Hanks was suffering from the flu.
Somehow he managed to push through it like a hero and got the job done!
14. Tupac auditioned for the role of “Bubba” Blue
There could have been a very famous face from the world of hip-hop in Forrest Gump.
Before his untimely death in 1996, Tupac auditioned for the role of Bubba Blue – sadly he didn’t get the part though. And he wasn’t the only famous face to lose out on the iconic role.
Dave Chappelle has starred in a number of rom-coms and comedy movies alongside his hugely successful stand-up act.
Chappelle also auditioned for the role and was actually offered the part! However, he turned it down…
Chappelle has since admitted that he really regrets not accepting the role.
Maybe he can commiserate with John Travolta?
13. Kurt Russell has an uncredited voiceover in the movie
Kurt Russell is an 80s legend.
He’s starred in a number of great films over the years, including Escape From New York and Big Trouble In Little China.
However, did you know that he also makes an uncredited appearance in Forrest Gump? It might have been a bit hard to spot him though, because he only provided voiceover work for the film.
Basically, Russell is the guy who voices Elvis Presley in the film because he starred in a biopic about the singer in 1979.
It’s unclear who the on-screen actor was who portrayed the King, but still, give that scene a listen again and you can definitely recognise Russell’s voice.
A nice little bit of movie trivia for any film buffs out there!
12. The famous bench has been preserved at the Savannah History Museum
Forrest spends most of the movie waiting at a bench near a bus stop in Savannah, Georgia.
The bench became so popular that it was removed from its location and put up at auction, where it was sold in 2013 for over $25,000.
The buyer clearly wanted to look after the film prop and put it in the Savannah History Museum for future generations to enjoy.
And that’s not the only famous Forrest Gump prop to get a second life.
If you want to see the infamous Bubba Gump Shrimp Boat with ‘Jenny’ painted on the side, then you’re in look.
Simply visit the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Downtown Disney – the boat is moored in the moat surrounding the eatery.
11. Sally Field isn’t actually that much older than her on-screen son
Sally Field plays Mrs Gump to perfection in the movie.
She does everything for her son, including sleeping with the headmaster to get Forrest into a good school despite his low IQ.
Eventually she passes away of cancer, much to everyone’s heartbreak, but before she dies she passes on some pearls of wisdom to Forrest (“life is like a box of chocolates…”).
However, despite playing Tom Hanks’ on-screen mother, Fields is only ten years older than Hanks in real life!
The make-up department had to go into overdrive to try and make her look older in Fields’ final scenes.
The pair had already starred together in Punch Line (1988), where they played two friends working in show business.
10. Lots of people wanted a Forrest Gump sequel
Like many hit films, there were plenty of cries for a Forrest Gump sequel.
We’re not sure exactly what that would have looked like, or which historical events he would somehow have found his way into.
But it definitely wasn’t necessary – Forrest Jr.’s step onto the school bus was a nice way to end the movie.
And lead actor Tom Hanks must have thought so too, because he’s always refused to film a sequel.
Thank goodness for that!
It seems as though every half decent film has fifty sequels nowadays. Luckily Forrest Gump hasn’t succumbed to the same fate.
9. Forrest Gump is different in the novel
Forrest Gump is loosely based on the novel by Winston Groom.
The book was written in 1986, and like any adaptation, the filmmakers had to take a few liberties with the storyline.
And fans will be particularly disappointed to learn that apparently the loveable hero of the film isn’t actually that nice in the books!
Forrest Gump is much more of an abrasive and cynical character in the novel, compared to Tom Hanks’ Forrest who is relentlessly optimistic.
However, like his on-screen counterpart, Gump is a bit of an idiot savant, a characteristic which gets him into all kinds of trouble.
But the novel goes deeper in Forrest’s sex life and romantic escapades, which are seriously glossed over in the film.
8. Mykelti Williamson had to wear a fake lower lip
In the movie, Bubba Gump has a very distinctive lower lip.
It juts out from his mouth considerably and affects the way Bubba talks. At one point, Lieutenant Dan tells him to reel it in in case he trips over it!
However, this wasn’t actually a real feature of Williamson’s face, and instead he wore a prosthetic on his lower lip throughout filming.
Unfortunately, he performed so convincingly with the prosthetic in place that many people assumed this is what he actually looked like.
Forrest Gump ended up ruining Williamson’s acting career because casting directors assumed he had a lisp.
Looks like Williamson was a victim of his own talents!
7. The film’s soundtrack went platinum
Forrest Gump has one of the coolest soundtracks in film history.
There are plenty of great songs by The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Lynyrd Skynyrd and other classic 60s bands.
The tunes featured in Forrest Gump didn’t go unnoticed by movie goers either, and the film’s soundtrack did exceedingly well when it was released.
The soundtrack ended up selling over 12 million copies and eventually went platinum.
It’s now one of the most successful movie soundtracks of all time.
6. Forrest Gump was the first major success for Paramount in years
Paramount executives were rubbing their hands together when news of Forrest Gump‘s success first rolled in.
The famous studio had recently been acquired by Viacom and needed a hit to prove how much it was worth. Forrest Gump definitely delivered…
The movie ended up earning over $350 million on its initial release, although Paramount said that they were still out of profit because the costs of promotion and distribution shot up.
However, as well as the millions of dollars it earned at the box office, Forrest Gump‘s success meant that it was selected for national preservation.
The movie was chosen for preservation in the United States National Film Registry back in 2011 due to its being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
4. The film wasn’t set entirely in Alabama
As we’ve said before, Alabama is an important part of Forrest’s upbringing.
And some of the locations featured in the movie were set in the Yellowhammer State. However, it wasn’t the only place in America to feature scenes from Forrest Gump.
As well as Alabama, filming also took place in Beaufort, South Carolina and parts of coastal North Carolina and Virginia.
Speaking of Forrest’s hometown, the inspiration for many of the locations in the film were inspired by the artwork of Norman Rockwell.
His depictions of country life in America inspired the look and feel of Forrest Gump.
Keep that in mind next time you watch the movie!
3. Forrest Gump Jr. was Haley Joel Osment’s first ever movie role
Haley Joel Osment made a name for himself as a child actor back in the 90s.
He starred in a number of popular movies including The Sixth Sense and Pay It Forward, before largely disappearing from the public eye.
However, he does make a brief appearance in Forrest Gump as the title character’s son.
Believe it or not, this hit movie was Osment’s first ever acting role at the age of 6 years old.
This is what Osment looks like today…he’s definitely changed quite a bit since then.
Since starring as a child actor in Hollywood movies, Osment has done voiceover and TV work after battling alcohol and drug addictions.
2. All of John Lennon’s lines come from his famous song “Imagine”
More than a few famous faces pop up in Forrest Gump.
And by far one of the most celebrated pop culture figures to appear in the movie is none other than John Lennon, the Liverpool lad who formed one quarter of The Beatles.
Forrest turns up on the Dick Cavett show to talk about his time in China playing ping pong, while Lennon supposedly sitting next to him.
The music legend has a couple of lines in the movie – but Lennon fans might have noticed that they sound quite familiar.
That’s because everything he says is actually a string of lines from his famous song ‘Imagine’.
His lines include “No possessions,” “No religion too,” and “It’s easy if you try.”
1. It was a great year for hit movies
Forrest Gump wasn’t the only great movie that came out in 1994.
There were a string of other hit films that have since come to be regarded as classics, such as The Lion King, The Shawshank Redemption and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
There must have been something in the air that year to produce so many hit blockbusters!
Forrest Gump was released in October of that year – the same month that another great movie, Pulp Fiction, hit cinema screens.
Obviously they’re both slightly different films to one another but still…
Imagine going to the cinema twice in one week to see Forrest Gump followed by Pulp Fiction?! Definitely a great year for cinema!
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