In 1994, Robert Lee Zemeckis brought us a movie that achieved the status of an American classic - Forrest Gump. Tom Hanks gave a career-defining performance in this heartwarming and hilarious movie, which was based on Winston Groom's novel. It was an instant hit with critics and viewers too, and it roared at the box office. It was a movie that made us think deeply about life and our decisions. But did you know that there are some lesser-known facts about this all-time favorite classic?
1. Forrest's famous accent
Everyone absolutely adored the peculiar accent that Forrest Gump had in the movie! It was the icing on the cake that made the character so inspiring and unique. Tom Hanks was initially not a fan of the accent, but after meeting Michael Conner Humphrey, who played young Forrest and hearing it for himself, he grew to love it, and eventually, it was decided that Forrest Gump should also speak with the same accent. It turns out that Michael Conner Humphrey's incredible performance in this movie earned him a great deal of praise and recognition, including the Young Artist Award - and we can certainly see why!
2. Forest Gump's mother
Sally Field's portrayal of the adoring mother of Forrest Gump was nothing short of extraordinary! Who would've thought that, despite her character being so elderly, the truth was that Sally Field was only a decade older than Tom Hanks - talk about what eyes can't see! Well, if that ain't a sign of ageless beauty, we don't know what is.
3. Hippie scene
For the groovy sequence in the flick, the director needed a ton of hippie-looking people with hairstyles that totally screamed the '60s. So, the brilliant masterminds behind the movie decided on a genius plan. Instead of getting a load of extra actors and making them look like they were out of the Summer of Love, which would've cost them a great amount and a lot of time and effort, the cast went over to the Maryland Renaissance Festival and got the whole scene done there! I mean, how cool is that?! Talk about a time and money-saver!
4. Run Forrest Run
Tom Hanks did a whole lot of running in that movie - he must have worn out the soles of his shoes! However, when it came to the long-distance running scenes, the director thought it would be a great idea to get the help of Tom's younger brother Jim - who was a runner! It was probably a blessing in disguise for the director since brothers usually look alike, so he didn't need to go through the hassle of finding a double for Tom. Talk about convenience!
5. The real long run
Back in 1982, a teenage boy named Louis Michael Figueroa set out on an epic journey from his home in New Jersey all the way to San Francisco. He was only 16 years old, but he was determined to spread awareness for the American Cancer Society. Little did Louis know that his words of wisdom would eventually be immortalized in the famous movie Forrest Gump. In the movie, Forrest Gump's iconic line "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" was actually slightly modified from what Louis said when asked about his incredible walk. It seems like Louis' inspiring journey is still celebrated to this day - who said that walking didn't get you anywhere?
6. Running sick
During filming, there are all sorts of challenging situations, like some of the actors coming down with a nasty case of the sniffles. Most of the actors are incredibly professional and will tear through the work no matter how under the weather they may be. They can't call in sick and stay home like the rest of us; their job requires them to be on set! One of those days was during a running scene at a football match. Poor Tom Hanks had a terrible cold, but he still managed to perform his iconic scene despite feeling like a sack of potatoes! Talk about dedication!
7. Not the big hit
When the first edition of 'Forrest Gump' was published in 1986, it was a total flop! Only a tiny 30,000 copies were sold, and it seemed destined to be forgotten. But then along came Wendy Finerman, the movie producer with a vision! She saw the potential in the novel and convinced a studio to make it into a movie. And boy, did it pay off! After the movie hit the big screen, 1.6 million copies of the book were sold - which means it's now considered a classic! It was a happy ending indeed!
8. The speech A significant scene
Forrest Gump's speech on the Vietnam War was truly something to remember. As he stood in front of an audience of anti-war protesters in Washington, D.C., he was about to deliver some powerful words. Unfortunately, before Forrest could get to the microphone, someone had pulled the plug, leaving the crowd to wonder what he was about to say. But don't worry, we know what he said! Yes, Forrest Gump actually uttered those very words that have become immortalized in history: "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." We can all agree that Forrest's speech was as impactful as it was brief. It's a shame we didn't get to hear it in its entirety, but what we did hear was pretty damn significant!
9. The soundtrack of the movie
Forrest Gump was an absolute smasher at the box office, and its soundtrack was a mega-hit too! With classics like "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield, and "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, it's no wonder over 12 million copies of these tracks were sold. Even today, these tunes are still grooving their way into the hearts of people all around the world!
10. Not enough money
For Paramount Pictures, Forrest Gump's success was nowhere near enough. Despite having a mere budget of $55 million, the film ended up grossing an impressive $677 million at the box office. However, the studio foolishly spent an arm and a leg on its promotion, leaving them poorer by an astounding $62 million! I guess it just goes to show that even when you try your best, you can still end up worse off than when you started.
11. More money issues
During the making of the movie, there were some financial hiccups that almost jeopardized the entire project. At one point, the studio was literally two days away from pulling the plug. But Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis decided to take matters into their own hands and literally 'shell out' the money from their own pockets. Not only that, but Hanks even refused to take a paycheck for his work, only taking a (percentage) commission. That ended up being a very wise decision on his part because he ended up making an unbelievable $40 million in the end!
Forest Gump was what we could call a 'successful failure' in the end, even though it was one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. Talk about a career-defining moment!
12. Photos of Forrest
Tom Hanks is such an incredibly dedicated actor; it's a wonder he could ever make any mistakes! But if you take a closer look at all the pictures Forrest took in the movie, you'll find something pretty strange - his eyes are closed in each and every one! We can only assume that this was done on purpose, as it's highly unlikely that a pro like Tom Hanks would miss something like that! We'd like to think that he was just taking a little nap between takes, but we'll never know for sure!
13. Forrest Gump's house
Forrest Gumo grew up in an old plantation-style house that was built specifically for the movie. The house had to be quickly and sloppily constructed for the movie, so it was about as sturdy as a house of cards! After the filming was completed, the house had to be torn down - it wasn't even up to code! It had been built in Varnville, South Carolina. The city of Greenbow, where Gump was from, is a city that doesn't actually exist! That's right, Forrest Gump is from a fictional place - how wild is that?!
14. Bubba Gump Restaurant
In the movie Forrest Gump there is an ambitious shrimp enthusiast by the name of Bubba, who is one of Forrest Gump's war buddies. Despite the fact that his dreams of becoming the 'king of the shrimp business' were unfortunately cut short due to his death in the Vietnam War, Forrest decided to remember his friend by continuing his dream in his honor. And, as fate would have it, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. was born!
Now, you can find this famous chain of restaurants in countries all across the globe, from China to Japan, Mexico to Malaysia. In front of each eatery, there's even a bench with Forrest's signature suitcase and a pair of his beloved Snickers under the bench, just as a reminder of how the story began. Who would have thought that a movie could have such a lasting impact and create something as grand as a restaurant chain?
15. A Real Deal
Gary Sinise starred as Lieutenant Dan, who led a ragtag group of soldiers - Forrest and Bubba (who were probably more interested in what was for lunch than fighting any enemy) - during the Vietnam War. In the movie, Dan rocks a St. Christopher Medal with the inscription "Protect Us in Combat" - which, get this, was actually Gary Sinise's brother-in-law's medal that he had worn during his own service in the war. Talk about a family heirloom!
The hilarious thing about Forrest Gump's encounter with the legendary John Lennon was that it was actually footage taken from the Dick Cavett Show – but, to make it even more comical, Yoko Ono was digitally erased and replaced with a video of Tom Hanks as the iconic Forrest Gump! Talk about an epic (and totally random) mash-up!
17. Real Footage
When Forrest Gump met the President, it was no ordinary meeting - the footage used for the scene was from a real ceremony from 1968 when the courageous Sammy L. Davis was awarded his Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam! The interesting part is that they digitally superimposed Forrest's head on Sammy's body, making it look like Forrest was actually standing face-to-face with Lyndon B. Johnson! This amazing edit made it look like Forrest Gump was there to receive the Medal of Honor himself!
18. Bubba's Lip
Mykelti Williamson has to be applauded for his spot-on portrayal of Forrest Gump's war buddy, Bubba. Bubba had a very distinctive feature - a lower lip that stuck out like a sore thumb! It was all thanks to a clever prosthetic, which was expertly crafted to look as real as can be. In fact, many people were shocked to find out that Mykelti Williamson didn't actually have a big ol' lip after the movie hit the big screens. We bet he was glad to be able to kiss goodbye to that prosthetic!
19. War scenes
The folks in charge of filming the Vietnam War scenes must have been really desperate - they actually chose to film it on a GOLF COURSE on Fripp Island! Can you believe it? I mean, I guess they had to make do with the resources they had, but still! And then, they had to use computer-generated imagery (CGI) to make it look like a swampy, muddy jungle. It's almost too silly to think about!
20. The long scene with Robin
The dedicated Robin Wright! She was feeling terrible and had a horrid cold while they were shooting the nightclub scene, yet she still managed to perform like a boss! She had hardly any clothes on all day, but she kept going like a trooper and refused to let her sniffles get in the way of her delivering a stunning performance. What a pro!
21. Screenplay Ready
Eric Roth, the genius mastermind behind the Academy Award-winning screenplay for 'Forrest Gump,' and who also wrote the scripts of some other popular movies such as 'The Insider,' 'Munich,' 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' and 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,' was actually ready to write the sequel to 'Forrest Gump' - talk about dedication! As fate would have it, he had just dropped the screenplay in the mail on September 10, 2001, but then the next day, the world changed forever when the tragic events of 9/11 occurred. No one wanted to take a chance on the sequel after that, so sadly, we never got to see the 'Forrest Gump' sequel!
22. Slipped through his finger
Tom Hanks wasn't the only actor who was handed the 'Forrest Gump' script - it was like a hot potato, being tossed from one actor to another. Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and even John Travolta were all offered the part, but thank goodness, they all said 'No thanks!' leaving the role to the actor who was destined for it. Poor John Travolta - even he admits today that he dropped the ball by not taking on the role of Forrest Gump. Who knows, he might have been even more famous than he is now if he had taken part!
The remarkable Lieutenant Dan, played by the incredible Gary Sinise, was a pivotal character in the movie. Even though he was a tough nut to crack, he was still quite vulnerable. To make it look realistic, the creative minds of 1994 Hollywood had to get a bit crafty since they didn't have all the high-tech special effects that we have today. So, they resorted to the age-old art of illusion and simply had Gary don a bright blue fabric that seamlessly hid his lower legs. And voila! A realistic portrayal was achieved!
24. Genius Performance
Mykelti Williamson had the audacity to act so magnificently in the role of Bubba in 'Forrest Gump' that he was actually cursed with the inability to get any other acting jobs afterward! It was as if the casting directors were under a spell and thought that Mykelti was actually a real-life Bubba. But all was saved when Mykelti made an appearance on "The Late Show With David Letterman" and showed the world that he was a different person from Bubba! Phew!
When Tom Hanks' character uttered the iconic phrase "My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump," it immediately became one of the most famous movie lines known to man. Fun fact: this line wasn't written in the original script. It was a stroke of genius from Tom Hanks himself! Director Zemeckis was so impressed that he decided to keep it in the movie, and the rest is history! Who knows what the movie would have been like without it? We'll never know, but we do know one thing for sure - it sure is a good thing Tom Hanks was feeling creative that day!
Kurt Russel would be the one to thank for bringing Elvis Presley back to life in the movie, even if it was only in voice form! Though, it almost seems like he was forgotten about, as he was left uncredited at the end. We can't say we blame them, though - after all, he had already done a television movie about Elvis back in 1979 and had become quite the professional Elvis impersonator by then. So why bother mentioning him? That's what we call a true 'King of Cool'; stealthily bringing The King back to life and then disappearing back into the shadows!
27. More CGI Magic
A ping pong match might look fun and exciting to watch, but try keeping track of that darn ball as it zooms around like a crazed bumblebee! It's almost impossible for the human eye to follow the rebounds, so it's no wonder that the filmmakers had to rely on a bit of computer-generated magic. When the match was actually filmed, there was no ping-pong ball involved at all - it was added later to create the illusion that the actors were actually playing a real match. It's a good thing, too - otherwise, the director would have been tearing his hair out trying to get two actors who had never even held a paddle to look like ping-pong aficionados!
28. Growing Pains
Ahoy there! In the classic movie 'Forrest Gump', we actually get to witness the transformation of Forrest from a lovable young lad to a kind-hearted, slow-witted, grown man. And the most amazing part of it all? He wears the same blue checkered shirt in each scene! How's that for subtlety, eh? It's like Forrest was saying, 'Hey, I'm growing up, but I'm still the same ol' Forrest!'
29. Missed opportunity
It seems like Ice Cube, David Alan Grier, and Dave Chappelle had a case of cold feet when it came to the role of Bubba in the movie. You'd think that with the kind of star power that these three actors had, they wouldn't think twice about taking the role. But Ice Cube didn't feel comfortable playing a disabled character, Dave Chappelle thought it was a bad movie to be in, and David Alan Grier probably had a similar reason. But, thankfully, Mykelti Williamson stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park! It was a huge box office success, and Mykelti reaped the rewards. Who knows what would have happened if the other three had said yes?
30. Famous bench
Forrest Gump's famous bench has been quite a treasure, so much so that Savannah officials had to take drastic measures to protect it! They decided that the best way to make sure it was safe from the not-so-favorable Savannah weather and potential robbers was to move it from its original location in Chippewa Square to the Savannah History Museum. I guess it's true what they say: Even the most popular of benches need a little extra protection!
31. A mishap
Probably the only mistake in the movie occurred in a timeline in the running scene. Forrest Gump said that he ran for three years and two months. But he had actually started running the day President Carter collapsed from the heat on 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.
On Forrest Gump's first school bus ride, it was anything but a pleasant experience! He was greeted with jeers and ridicule from the other kids, who coincidentally turned out to be the children of the movie director Robert Zemeckis and actor Tom Hanks! Little did Forrest know that the boy who was making fun of him was actually Zemeckis' son, Alexander, and the girl who was coldly shunning him was Hanks' daughter, Elizabeth. Talk about a cruel case of irony!
33. Famous Props
If you're a fan of Forrest Gump, then you must visit one of the Bubba Gump restaurants around the world! Not only will you be treated to a delicious shrimp dish, but you can also get the unique experience of seeing the actual shrimp boat from the movie in Downtown Disney. Plus, if you head to one of the restaurants, you can even get an up-close look at the ping-pong paddles Forrest Gump used in the movie! What's more, these paddles are proudly displayed on the wall, and if you look closely, you'll even spot Tom Hanks' signature on them! Who knew that Forrest Gump was so famous that even his ping-pong paddles had to be signed by the actor himself?
34. Cut out a scene
The hilarious (and totally not offensive) scene from the movie, which got cut out by director Zemeckis, was so outrageous it can only be seen on the special collector's edition DVD. Apparently, the director thought it had some racial overtones and might be offensive to African-American people. What was the scene, you ask? Well, it featured riot police releasing a German Shepherd dog on the one and only Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.! But don't worry, Forrest Gump heroically jumps in to save the day by distracting the dog with a game of fetch. Talk about a wild and crazy scene!
35. Forrest Gump's many talents
In the action-packed movie, Forrest Gump is a football superstar due to his remarkable running skills. But after his involvement in the Vietnam War, he takes it to the next level by dominating the international ping pong championship. But, believe it or not, in the novel, he's even more impressive - Forrest Gump is an exceptional chess grandmaster, an intrepid astronaut, and a formidable professional wrestler! Now, who says you can't be good at everything?
36. Tough pick
Wendy Finerman had a vision for the movie 'Forrest Gump' all the way back in 1986, but it seemed like no one in Hollywood shared her enthusiasm. For nine long years, she tried to convince people that the story would make an amazing movie, but all her efforts were in vain - until she managed to get Tom Hanks on board, that is! Tom Hanks was so taken with the story that he agreed to star in the movie after only an hour and a half of reading the script. Hey, even Hollywood stars can be easily won over!
37. A lifetime opportunity
While shooting on Capitol Hill the scene of Forrest Gump returning from Vietnam in Washington DC, director Zemeckis saw the perfect opportunity when a couple of tourists from Atlanta, Georgia, passed by, and he asked them to join in on the action! Talk about a lucky break - they got to be on the big screen and even had a few lines to say! It's like they say - timing is everything, and a bit of good fortune never hurt, either! Who knows, maybe they'll become the next big Hollywood stars!
38. Book adaptation
If you thought Forrest Gump was all about chocolates and Tom Hanks' lovable and naive portrayal, then think again! The book paints a different picture. In the book, Forrest is a much more wry and cynical person. Heck, even the beginning of the movie was different from the book. In the movie, Forrest says, "My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." But in the book, he starts off with a much more cynical tone, saying, "Let me say this: bei'n an idiot is no box of chocolates. People laugh, lose patience, and 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." Looks like Forrest Gump isn't as innocent as we thought!
39. Gump & Co.
After the wild success of his first novel, Forrest Gump, Winston Groom thought to himself, "Maybe I should write a sequel, just to make sure everyone knows I wrote the original too!" So, he wrote Gump & Co., and the opening sentence was, "Don't ever let anyone make a movie of your life's story!"
He had good reason for this- none of the people involved with the movie ever thanked him for his novel, which was the basis for the movie. Not a single "thank you" was given to Groom- it was as if he didn't even exist! Talk about a huge oversight!
40. Jenny's death
Poor Jenny! She and Forrest Gump were living the dream, finally married after all the years of longing glances and chasing after each other. It was all too good to be true because, after only one year of marital bliss, Jenny was taken away by an unknown virus. Although the movie never revealed what virus it was, many people believe it was AIDS since the story was set in the '80s when AIDS was running rampant in the U.S. But the author, Winston Groom, had something else in mind when he wrote the book - he reveals in the sequel novel, Bubba & Co., that Jenny actually succumbed to hepatitis C, which she contracted during her drug-abusing days. Poor Jenny!
41. The sequel
In the follow-up to the original, Forrest Gump and his sidekick, Co., are back and ready to take their shenanigans to a whole new level! From accidentally demolishing the Berlin Wall to getting mixed up in the Iran-Contra affair, Forrest and Co. sure have some wild adventures! And let's not forget that Forrest even finds himself in the heat of Desert Storm! It's all in a day's work for these two as they make new memories that will last a lifetime!
42. Movie sequel
No matter how much Forrest Gump fans would love to have a sequel, it looks like it won't be happening anytime soon. There's just no one willing to make it happen. Naysayers claim that the success of Forrest Gump was a one-off fluke and that a sequel would be a complete disaster. To make matters worse, Tom Hanks has even declared he won't be donning a Gump costume again, as he believes it could "totally ruin the legacy we created." Oh, what a shame! It would have been fun to see Forrest Gump in action again, but it looks like we can only keep dreaming.
43. Great year for movie fans
In 1994, the year of the most amazing movies ever made, like Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, and Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump somehow managed to come out on top! It was a total shocker when Forrest Gump zoomed right to the number one spot at the box office and stayed there for an unbelievable 42 weeks - that's like six whole months! It's even more incredible when you realize that Forrest Gump raked in an incredible $677 million, making it the fourth-highest-grossing movie of all time! Ah, Forrest Gump, you sure are something else!
Poor, poor Winston Groom! He was probably so excited when Paramount Pictures wanted to purchase the rights to his novel 'Forrest Gump' - only to find out he'd only be getting a measly $350,000. But wait, it gets worse! He opted to receive 3% of the movie's net profits, but unfortunately, the film didn't make a profit, so he ended up with nothing! What a bummer! In the end, Paramount Pictures purchased the rights to a script from another one of Groom's books, which must have been the only silver lining in this whole debacle. Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions!