20 Things You Might Not Have Realised About Forrest Gump
If we were to say that ‘life is like a box of…’, we’re pretty sure that 95% of you would be able to finish the quote. Forrest Gump is one of the most loved films of the 90s, so we thought it was definitely time that we remembered it with the following 20 fascinating facts…
20. Tom Hanks’ brother performs most of the running scenes
For many actors, especially those involved with action movies, running can become a surprisingly large and constant part of their careers.
Some have even become famous on the basis of their running, or at the very least had their running skill become famous in its own right.
While that’s definitely true of actors like Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves, running isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of Tom Hanks.
Despite that, running is a huge part of Forrest Gump, and Hanks had to spend a lot of takes sprinting through everything from warzones to idyllic countryside.
However, the sheer volume of running required meant it was just too much for Tom Hanks to handle alone.
As a solution, Hanks roped in his younger brother Jim Hanks, who acted as a body double and filmed many of the running scenes.
19. Robin Wright had to go naked for 24 hours to shoot one scene
Forrest Gump is almost universally regarded as a wholesome and heart-warming film, but there are several scenes that aren’t exactly appropriate for the whole family.
The most famous of which is the nude guitar scene, in which Jenny performs entirely naked, hidden only by her instrument.
Nude scenes are never the most comfortable scenes but Robin Wright, who played Jenny, struggled for several reasons.
For a start, she was suffering from a bad cold while filming, which made the lack of clothes and uncomfortable sitting position even more gruelling.
Not only that, but filming the scene involved a 24-hour long shoot, during which time she was naked for the majority.
The whole ordeal was allegedly her least favourite part of the filming process, though you can’t see it in the final product.
18. Tom Hanks doesn’t blink once during the ping-pong scenes
Part of the charm of Forrest Gump is that, often to the surprise of those around him, he can turn his hand to many different skills.
One of those skills in ping-pong, which he first plays with the other soldiers in the infirmary.
When he is first learning how to play the game, a fellow soldier tells him that the most important thing is not to take his eye off the ball.
It’s advice that Forrest takes to heart, since after that first game he never blinks while playing the game.
No matter how high the stakes are for that particular match, or how seriously everybody else is taking it, Forrest stays in the zone.
If you watch frame by frame, Hanks never blinks while playing ping-pong, after that first game when he is told not to.
17. Some big-name actors refused to play Bubba
Bubba is one of the most memorable characters in Forrest Gump, and has become beloved by fans.
However, the casting and creation of the character caused problems right from the beginning.
Many actors, such as David Alan Grier and Ice Cube, refused to play the part, and for pretty harsh reasons.
Grier and Cube both had misgivings about playing a character with a disability, while Dave Chappelle simply said that he thought the movie would bomb.
Even once Mykelti Williamson was cast, he was still very open about having misgivings about the part.
He was worried that people would think his lip prosthetic was a part of him, which would, in turn, prevent him from getting future work.
16. The ‘hippies’ were actually extras from a Renaissance fair
Sourcing extras is usually one of the easier parts of a production, since extras are often not required to do more than stand around for a couple of hours.
However, the more specific boxes a group of extras have to tick, the harder it can be to find a large group of them on short notice.
For the rally scene in Forrest Gump, the casting director was tasked with finding a large group of people who could convincingly play hippies.
The most difficult part of this was finding a large group of men with long hair and facial hair, which wasn’t a current trend at the time.
Thankfully, Ellen Lewis realised that she could pull actors from the Renaissance Festival, who all had the requisite long hair.
Of course, their costumes needed to be changed and updated pretty significantly, and they also had to leave their swords and shields behind.
15. Forrest’s mystery Vietnam Rally speech is heartbreaking
In one of the most pivotal scenes in Forrest Gump, Forrest speaks at a Vietnam video in Washington.
The microphone plug is pulled, and it is impossible to hear what he planned to say in the first place.
However, Tom Hanks’ script contained the words that Forrest was trying to say, which he memorised.
The full statement is completely heartbreaking and delivered with Forrest’s trademark heartfelt simplicity.
The statement goes 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.”
14. The sequel reveals what Jenny died of
For the majority of Forrest Gump, Forrest and Jenny seem to be playing out the beats of a classic love story.
They begin as childhood best friends, but then drift apart thanks to their circumstances, only reuniting much later.
However, despite eventually spending the night together and even sharing a son, they never get a traditional happy ending.
Jenny tragically dies of a mysterious unknown virus, leaving Forrest to raise the child by himself.
Though it was never revealed in the film, the book is more explicit about what exactly caused Jenny’s death.
Though it’s a mystery to the doctors and to Jenny herself, with retrospect we know that Jenny was suffering from Hepatitis C, as a result of her drug use.
13. Forrest’s character in the book is a physics genius
Though the novel Forrest Gump by Winston Groom was pretty successful in its own right, it’s fair to say that the success of the movie has somewhat eclipsed it.
Even those who have never seen the film have heard about it for the most part, and can probably even name a few key scenes.
However, despite the book and film sharing a name, there are several differences that make them very different experiences.
In fact, the film actually only comprises of the first 11 chapters of the book, and adds several additional elements that weren’t in the book at all.
For example, book Forrest swears like a sailor and is very intelligent when it comes to things like physics, and the movie abandons both of these personality traits.
The movie also takes out a whole subplot in which Forrest becomes a chess champion, and travels the world having chess-related adventures.
12. It could have starred John Travolta
Forrest Gump is such an iconic character, thanks in no small part to Tom Hanks’ sensitive and incredibly endearing portrayal.
From his signature southern drawl to shy smile, it’s hard to separate the character of Forrest from Hanks’s performance.
With that said, the movie could have ended up looking far different, as the casting of Tom Hanks was never a certainty.
In fact, those involved with casting were pretty settled on John Travolta for the part, until he turned it down.
Travolta was not the only actor to turn down the part, as Sean Penn was also asked about the role.
Bill Murray was also briefly considered for the part, though Travolta has been the most vocal about regretting declining the part.
11. Hanks is only ten years younger than his on-screen mum
Throughout the movie, we watch as Forrest grows up, beginning as a young boy and ending with a son of his own.
We also see his mother grow older alongside him, until she eventually passes away as an older woman.
Mrs. Gump is played by Sally Field, who manages to convincingly play a whole range of ages, from a young mother to an elderly woman.
She always gives off an air of wisdom and care that makes her feel far older than Forrest, no matter what point she is at in her life.
The most impressive thing about this performance is that, despite playing his mother, Fields is only ten years older than Tom Hanks, who plays Forrest.
Thankfully this only increased their chemistry, as the two could get along onset and walk the line while filming between family and friendship.
10. People often get the famous quote wrong
Many films have iconic lines, but Forrest Gump is a movie with a famous quote so ubiquitous that it has transcended the popularity of the film itself.
You don’t need to have seen the film to know the quote to which we’re referring, which over the years has appeared on everything from tea towels to shower curtains.
With that said, the famous box of chocolate analogy has met a similar fate to that of many other famous movie quotes, in that it is constantly misremembered.
Just as many people insist that the famous Star Wars quote reads “Luke, I am your father” rather than “No, I am your father”, Forrest Gump’s famous phrase is similarly misprinted and misquoted.
Though many will insist that the line is “My mama always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates”, the real quote is just a hair different.
Forrest actually says “My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates”, but for some reason that version just sounds less snappy.
9. Members of Tom Hanks’ family have roles
We’ve already discussed how Tom Hanks roped in his younger brother to help him film the running scenes, but that wasn’t the only time his family got involved.
In one of the earliest scenes in the film, Forrest is trying to find a seat on the bus, but a rude girl says she doesn’t want to sit next to him.
Amazingly, that rude young girl was actually played by Elizabeth Hanks, daughter of Tom Hanks.
She was asked to do the quick cameo, which was her first foray into screen acting, but not her last.
Though acting is not her main profession, she went on to work as an extra in That Thing You Do, which was written, directed and even starred Tom Hanks.
As recently as last year, she also starred in a short film and voiced a character in Big City Greens, which proves that her fledgeling acting career is not over.
8. The Vietnam War scene was filmed on a golf course
Forrest Gump is a pretty light-hearted movie with a few serious moments, and there are no scenes more solemn than those that take place in Vietnam.
However, despite the seriousness of these Vietnam war scenes, the setting isn’t exactly as dramatic as you might expect.
This is because those scenes were actually filmed on a golf course, cleverly shot to look more convincingly like Vietnam.
Even the golf course wasn’t anywhere particularly exciting, since it was located somewhere in Southern California.
This of course isn’t unusual in the slightest, since most films aren’t actually shot on the location in which they’re set.
Still, it does make it harder to take seriously the very harrowing events of the movie, once you know they’re happening in and around a golf course.
7. Elvis is played by Kurt Russell
A lot of seemingly random things happen in the course of Forrest Gump’s life, which is part of the charm of the movie.
Maybe the most unlikely of the bunch comes relatively early in the film, when a young Forrest Gump comes into contact with Elvis Presley.
Elvis Presley is inspired by Forrest Gump’s unusual way of moving, and even incorporates his jerky dance moves into his own iconic hip-swivelling.
Of course, there was no way to cast the real Elvis Presley in the movie, and they opted to not hire an Elvis impersonator either.
What they actually did was hire Kurt Russell, who provided the very convincing Elvis Presley voice in the movie.
He was chosen thanks to his previous work experience impersonating Elvis, which he had already done in a 1979 TV movie.
6. It swept up at the Oscars
Given that Forrest Gump is a relatable and life-affirming story filled with equal parts drama, romance, action and comedy, it’s not surprising that it resonated with a wide range of people.
It’s equally unsurprising that it did well at award shows, even if no-one predicted quite how well it would do.
As well as numerous other awards with at award shows, Forrest Gump won in several categories at the Academy Awards.
Most importantly, it won the coveted Oscar for Best Picture, as well as also winning in the category of Best Director.
Tom Hanks also claimed a win in the Best Actor category, which meant he won two Best Actor Oscars in two years, having won for his performance in Philidelphia the year before.
Amongst the other awards Forrest Gump won were Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Visual Effects.
5. It’s one of the highest-grossing films of all time
When Forrest Gump was released in 1994, it made an estimated $78,637,100 in ticket sales, which was an incredibly high number at the time.
To get a better idea of just how high, when that number is adjusted for inflation, the adjusted gross becomes $736,829,627.
Of course that’s an incredibly high number, especially given that Forrest Gump was not a sure-fire blockbuster in the way monster movies like Jaws and Jurassic Park were.
However, it’s easier to see just how big of a phenomenon Forrest Gump was when you compare it to other movies that made around the same amount of money when adjusted for inflation.
Currently, Forrest Gump is the 26th highest-grossing movie of all time when adjusted for inflation, sitting just below the classic movie The Godfather.
It sits just ahead of Mary Poppins and Grease, which are surprisingly still ahead of the Marvel movie The Avengers.
4. The soundtrack was extremely popular
Forrest Gump follows its titular character from childhood to late adulthood, which means the story spans several decades.
Along with wars, ping-pong diplomacy and Elvis Presley, those decades also contain several musical trends, which influenced the soundtrack.
The mix of different artists and genres on the Forrest Gump soundtrack proved exceptionally popular, with the soundtrack selling over 12 million copies.
Artists featured included Elvis, Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys, amongst several others.
Unfortunately, the 12 million copies sold were not enough for the soundtrack to rank amongst the most successful ever.
That honour goes to The Bodyguard, with second place going to Saturday Night Fever third place going to Purple Rain.
3. Forrest’s bench was sold at auction
Forrest Gump is hardly the only movie to have props so iconic that they become a symbol of the whole film.
It’s not even the only movie to have a bench become iconic, since the same thing happened to the Amsterdam bench in The Fault In Our Stars.
With that said, it is probably one of the most famous props in contemporary movie history, along with the Delorean from Back To The Future, or Indiana Jones’ bullwhip.
Given its importance to cinema history, not to mention just fans of the movie in general, its not surprising that many tried to buy the iconic Forrest Gump bench when it went to auction.
Eventually, the bench sold for $25,000 to a private collector, and that should have been the end of it.
However, several people have claimed to own and sell original Forrest Gump benches, to the point where even the studio that made them are not sure where the genuine ones are.
2. The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. exists for real
Much of Forrest Gump revolves around the character of Forrest setting up a shrimping business, in order to honour a promise he made to a friend who sadly passed away.
We watch as he begins with one boat, and then slowly puts both a staff and business together, which becomes successful thanks to a mix of skill and pure luck.
That’s already a pretty random-seeming plot point, which even in the book seems like just one random event in a series of random events that make up Forrest’s life.
However, what is even stranger is that the shrimp company later came to exist in real life, and is now a highly successful chain.
With over 39 branches of the restaurant worldwide, many people reading this may even have seen the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in person.
Not only that, but there’s a fair chance that several people eating there have never heard of the book or movie Forrest Gump, despite references to the property covering both the inside and outside of the restaurant.
1. The planned sequel was very bizarre
Author Winston Groom receiving a seven-figure payment from Paramount for the rights to his follow up book ‘Gump & Co’, but the film was never made.
Apparently it was deemed to be ‘no longer relevant’ after the September 11th terrorist attacks, which changed the consumer habits and interests of the American public.
Despite the film having a fully completed script, and needing an older Tom Hanks to play the part, it is unlikely that the movie will ever be made.
This is partly due to the aftermath of the September 11th terror attacks, but also because the script is a pretty tough sell.
For a start, the film was supposed to follow Forrest as he danced with Princess Diana, and sat in the back of OJ Simpson’s car during a road trip. It also revealed that Forrest’s own son was diagnosed with AIDS in the midst of American desegregation in Florida, which probably wouldn’t be that relatable to an audience.