It’s hard to believe Forrest Gump came close to not getting made. The film went through several re-writes, and was extremely difficult to cast. Warner Bros. spent years developing the project, but decided to walk away because executives felt Forrest Gump was too similar to 1988’s Academy Award winning film Rain Man. And that’s not even the strangest of these weird facts about Forrest Gump.
Thankfully, Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the project, the script came together beautifully (it won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay), and the casting was pretty much perfect (Tom Hanks took home the Academy Award for Best Actor). In celebration of the picture AFI called the 76th Greatest American Film of all time, this list puts together a jumbo shrimp bucket worth of fascinating Forrest Gump behind the scenes tales to share with friends and family who hold the film near and dear their hearts.
Imagine John Travolta as Forrest. Jodie Foster as Jenny Curran. Weird right? It’s nearly impossible to see any other actors besides Tom Hanks and Robin Wright in those iconic roles. You won’t believe all the big name stars who passed on parts in the film. You’ll also be shocked to learn which legendary rapper auditioned for shrimp-loving Bubba.
Check out all those Forrest Gump facts and more. Know a few weird facts about Forrest Gump that didn’t make the list, let us know in the comments section below.
Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis Saved the Production by Paying for the Running Scenes
“The studio was one day away from pulling the plug on this one movie I was going to make, and the director came to my house and said, ‘Look, this is going to fall apart because they won’t give us the budget for shooting this one sequence, and we’ve got to have this sequence.”
Director Robert Zemeckis proposed that he and Hanks split the cost of shooting that sequence, so that the studio would allow them to make the film they envisioned.
“I said, ‘All right.’ And the sequence was Forrest running across the country,” Hanks revealed. “And we were 48 hours away from it being shut down. So I’m glad that worked out.”
The running-across-the-country sequences contain perhaps the most iconic images in a movie filled with iconic imagery. It’s Forrest’s way of responding to Jenny leaving him. He was told by her at a young age to run away from danger, and that’s exactly what Forrest does as an adult.
Tom Hanks Didn’t Get Paid Upfront, But Made at Least $30 Million on the Back End
Jenny Died from Hepatitis C
Tupac Shakur Auditioned for the Role of Bubba
“We went to the Chelsea Movie Theater to see Forrest Gump and then we ate dinner around the corner in an Italian restaurant.” She added, “He wanted to see Forrest Gump because he read for the part of Bubba.”
That’s Kurt Russell’s Voice as Elvis Presley
All the Ping Pong Balls Were CGI
Tom Hanks Had Scripted Lines When His Microphone Turns Off
According to Hanks, he said, “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.”
Dave Chappelle and Ice Cube Turned Down the Role of Bubba
The part that went to Mykelti Williamson was also turned down by rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube. He reportedly passed on the role because he did not want to play a dumb character.
John Travolta Turned Down the Role of Forrest Gump
Despite the Gump gaff, Travolta accepted the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, which was released the same year as Forrest Gump. The role re-launched Travolta’s career and earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, and Demi Moore All Turned Down the Role of Jenny
A Scene Featuring Martin Luther King Jr. Wound Up on the Cutting Room Floor
The German Shepherds are unleashed by the police and race towards King. But Forrest starts to play fetch with the dogs, which makes them totally harmless to King and his supporters. He then approaches King and says, “Sorry to interrupt your parade. They just dogs and they don’t know any better.”
You can see the cut scene on the Forrest Gump Special Collector’s Edition DVD.
Jenny Recreates Andrew Wyeth During the Farm House Scene
Robert Zemeckis Used Norman Rockwell’s As Inspiration
The scenes of Forrest’s childhood were shot in Vanville, SC, which has a small town feel and is aesthetically similar to Rockwell’s work. Zemeckis revealed he used Rockwell’s art as a guide in creating Greenbow. The scene in the film when young Forrest is sitting outside the principal’s office while his mother talks to the principal was inspired by Rockwell’s The Young Lady with the Shiner.
The Security Guard Who Owns One of the Benches Refused to Sell it for $500,000
Another bench is in the Smithsonian. Two live on the Paramount lot in Los Angeles. The final bench was given to a security guard who was on patrol during filming. The security guard has reportedly turned down several offers to sell it, one of which was allegedly for half a million dollars.
Mykelti Williamson Lost Out on Roles Because His Bottom Lip Isn’t Really That Big
Williamson was eventually able to separate himself from the iconic character. He has since had a successful career as an actor in both film and television, including long running roles on CSI: NY, 24, and Justified.
Tom Hanks Improvised “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.”
Forrest then introduces himself. “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.” The iconic line was not in the script, but Zemeckis liked it so much he kept it.
Tom Hanks Modeled His Accent After Young Forrest
Gary Sinise Tours the World in the Lt. Dan Band
Forrest and Bubba Were Placed in the Same Platoon Because of Their Low IQ
Author Winston Groom Did Not Earn Any Royalty Money
Paramount contends that, despite the monster box office success of Forrest Gump, the studio didn’t earn back the money it spent on production, promotion, distribution, and marketing. This claim is somewhat suspicious when you consider Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis each made at least $31 million for their share of the profits (although, to be fair, Zemeckis and Hanks got points on gross profit, not net).
Groom took Paramount to court, where a judge pointed out the bad contract Groom signed. In the end, Groom made about $350,000 off the movie, though secured a seven figure deal up front when he sold his sequel, Gump & Co., to Paramount.