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50 Facts about Forrest Gump That Momma Didn’t Tell You.

Steven Y

“Mama always said Life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump

A movie that’s on almost everybody’s playlist. Forrest Gump is one masterpiece that can move you to tears decades after its release. It is one of the most universally loved movies ever made. The film went on to win Oscars for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay.

It’s heartbreaking, odd, and it’s certainly beautiful. That’s why we’ve compiled our favorite facts about the film for you to enjoy!

“My name is Forrest Gump… people call me Forrest Gump.” – Forrest Gump


50. A good year for popcorn.

In October 1994, cult classics Jurassic park, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption were all playing in theaters at the same time. Talk about a good year to get some extra buttery popcorn and head down to the theater!

49. I reckon’ that makes sense.

Tom Hanks modeled his accent on the real life accent of Michael Connor Humphreys (who’s acting career was jump started by the film), the boy who played young Forrest Gump in the movie.

48. Hard work for peanuts!

Tom Hanks was not paid his actor’s fee for the movie. In lieu of a fee, Tom Hanks took percentage points, which earned him about $40 million USD. No wonder Tom Hanks has a net worth of $350 million.

47. But it looked so old…

Although the charming home Forrest and his momma lived in looked like a real house that had been around for decades, it was actually built for the movie. It was constructed “hastily and not to code,” and it was torn down after shooting ended. Also? It wasn’t even in Alabama.

46. Not real you say?

Forrest Gump grew up in Greenbow, Alabama. The twist? Greenbow, Alabama doesn’t exist. However, Bayou la Batre, the birthplace of Bubba Gump Shrimp, is real and has a strong shrimping history.

45. Loving children.

Tom Hanks’ daughter (Emily) and director Robert Zemeckis’ son (Alexander) both have roles in the film: they both deny Forrest Gump a seat on the school bus. Emily is the red-haired girl, and Alexander is the first boy that won’t let Forrest sit down.

44. Farewell, sweet Jenny.

It’s not specified in the film, but in the sequel book “Gump & Co,” the author reveals that Jenny dies from Hepatitis C in the early 70s. Hepatitis C, contracted from her drug abuse, was an unknown disease until 1989. She says in the movie that the doctors don’t know what the virus is and can’t do anything about it.

43. Sentimental bling.

The necklace Lt. Dan wears isn’t just something from the prop closet. The rosary with a Saint Christopher medal inscribed “Protect Us In Combat” was worn in Vietnam by Gary Sinise’s brother-in-law, Jack Treese, in 1967-68.

42. Machine guns and golf balls.

The Vietnam scenes were shot on what is now the Ocean Creek Golf Course on Fripp Island, South Carolina. CGI was used to make the environment appear more like Vietnam.

 41. Probably should have taken it, fellas.

Bill Murray, John Travolta and Chevy Chase turned down the iconic role of Forrest Gump. Travolta later admitted that passing on the project was a huge mistake.

40. Run, Forrest!

Tom Hanks isn’t a runner, but there was a ton of running in the movie. Jim Hanks,  Tom’s younger brother, subbed for him in wide shots.

Jim Hanks.

39. Medals well earned.

Forrest’s awards and decorations, as worn in his Class A uniform are: the 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 (probably for rifle), and Meritorious Unit Commendation.

38. What else is there to say?

When Forrest gets up to talk at the Vietnam rally in Washington, the microphone plug is pulled and you cannot hear him. According to Tom Hanks, he says, “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.”

37. Improvised and awesome.

The line, “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump,” was ad libbed by Tom Hanks while filming the scene. Director Robert Zemeckis liked it so much that he decided to keep it in.

36. Good old plaid.

With every transition of Forrest’s age, one thing stays the same: in the first scene of each transition, he’s wearing a blue plaid shirt.

35. Yummy!

Forrest and Dan’s Shrimp Emporium “Bubba Gump” is now a themed restaurant in 33 locations around the world in the U.S., Japan, China, Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and the UK. There is one in Orlando, Florida, at the entrance to the Universal theme parks, at the Anaheim Gardenwalk in walking distance from Disneyland Park(TM) in Anaheim, California in the Los Angeles area and at Pleasure Pier in Galveston, Texas.

34. The secret to mastering ping-pong.

When Forrest first learns to play ping-pong in the infirmary, he is told the trick is to “keep his eye on the ball” by another soldier. After that moment, whenever he is shown playing ping-pong, he never blinks.

33. I wish I was recruited to act in a timeless classic by chance…

The actor who plays the reporter on the scene when Tom Hanks visits Washington DC after his tour in Vietnam was, himself, an actual tourist from Atlanta, Georgia. He happened to be on Capitol Hill that day with his wife, and was asked to read.

32. Hippies and their hair.

Many of the extras in the hippie scene were actors from the Maryland Renaissance Festival, since the casting director Ellen Lewis realized that would be a good source of performers with long hair.

Maryland Renaissance Festival.

31. Sweet legs.

Gary Sinise’s lower legs were wrapped in special blue fabric that allowed them to be removed from the film later using digital technology.

30. Louis the inspiration.

In 1982, Louis Michael Figueroa, aged 16, ran from New Jersey to San Francisco for the American Cancer Society. His post-run interview inspired a line for Forrest Gump’s famous run on the silver screen. “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.”

Louis Michael Figueroa

29. Protect that bench at all costs.

The park bench that Tom Hanks sat on for much of the movie was located in historic Savannah, Georgia, at Chippewa Square. Since then, it’s been removed and stored in a museum to avoid being destroyed by bad weather, or possibly stolen. To this day, the bench is held in the Savannah History Museum, Savannah, Georgia.

28. I guess this was cheaper than getting LBJ to act in the film…

Gump’s Medal of Honor ceremony uses the footage of the actual ceremony for Sammy L. Davis, who was awarded the Medal of Honor on 19 November 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson for his actions in Vietnam a year earlier. Tom Hanks’ head was superimposed on Davis’ body.

LBJ

27. Not exactly photogenic.

Every still picture of Forrest during this film shows Tom Hanks with his eyes closed.

26. Perseverance and nudity.

Robin Wright had a cold while shooting the nightclub scene. In spite of this, she was performed her own singing during a non-stop twenty-four hour shoot, during which she was completely nude (except for her guitar).

25. Whoops…

David Alan Grier, Ice Cube, and Dave Chappelle turned down the role of Bubba. Cube refused to play someone with a disability and Chappelle thought the movie would bomb. Chappelle has since admitted to deeply regretting not taking the role.

24. Ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.

Kurt Russell has said that he did the voice of Elvis Presley (uncredited) in the film, reprising his role from Elvis (1979).

23. Bubba Gump Shrimp.

The shrimp boat used in the film now resides in the moat surrounding the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Downtown Disney in Florida. Also, one of the ping-pong paddles used in the film that Tom Hanks signed is hung up on one of the walls inside the restaurant.

22. Way to tough it out, Tom.

On the day that Tom Hanks shot the football running scenes, he had been suffering from influenza.

21. Young Momma.

Sally Field, who plays Forrest’s mom, is only ten years older than Tom Hanks.

20. I’d have watched Forrest Gump 2.

When this film became wildly successful, talk of a sequel naturally arose. However, at the time, Tom Hanks adamantly refused to work in any sequel (and making the sequel with another actor was not a consideration).

19. Life is like a box of chocolates?

The character of Forrest Gump in the movie is a lot more passive and naïve than in Winston Groom’s 1986 novel, where he’s cynical and abrasive. For example, the actual line about chocolates, which opens the novel, reads like this: “Let me say this: bei’n a idiot is no box of chocolates. People laugh, lose patience, treat you shabby. Now they says folks s’posed to be kind to the afflicted, but let me tell you – it ain’t always that way. Even so, I got no complaints, cause I reckon I done live a pretty interestin’ life, so to speak.”

18. Big lips.

Mykelti Williamson wore a prosthetic to extend his lower lip throughout his performance as Bubba.

17. Ouch.

After a decade and a half of TV work, Williamson complained that, after the release of “Forrest Gump,” no one would hire him because casting directors thought Zemeckis “had discovered some weird-looking guy and put him in front of the camera.” Fortunately, a guest appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman” made it clear that the real Williamson was nothing like Bubba.

16. Platinum Sound Track.

The soundtrack for the film was so popular that it ended up selling over twelve million copies worldwide.

15. Pulling out of the nosedive.

The film was actually the first major success for Paramount Pictures since it was acquired by Viacom.

14. A few awards, not too shabby.

In 1995, the movie won the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Film Editing.

13. More recognition.

In 2011, the Library of Congress selected Forrest Gump for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

12. Forrest Gump the Astronaut.

The novel that Forrest Gump was based on (by Winston Groom) had many key differences from the movie. For example, the novel features Gump as an astronaut, a professional wrestler, and a chess player.

11. Sweet Home Alabama!

Although most of the film is set in Alabama, filming took place mainly in and around Beaufort, South Carolina, as well as parts of coastal Virginia and North Carolina.

10. Lots of extras, lots of takes.

The scene where Forrest spots Jenny at a peace rally at the Lincoln Memorial required the use of visual effects to create a crowd that large. Over two days of filming, approximately 1,500 extras were used. After each take, the extras were rearranged and moved into a different quadrant away from the camera. With the help of computers, the extras were multiplied to create a crowd of several hundred thousand people.

9. Expensive bench.

The bench that Forrest sat on sold at auction in 2013 for $25,000. It is currently in a museum.

8. Whoops again…

Both Terry Gilliam and Barry Sonnenfeld turned down the opportunity to direct before the film went to Robert Zemeckis.

7. A little inspiration.

Painter Norman Rockwell’s artwork inspired the look of Forrests’ hometown. Rockwell was an American painter who portrayed American culture, most notably in his cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post, which he did for nearly 50 years

Norman Rockwell painting.

6. “Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.” – Tupac

Tupac Shakur auditioned for the role of Bubba.

5. Money in the bank.

Despite earning over $350 million at the box office, Paramount claimed that they were still $62 million out of profit due to the costs of promotion and distribution.

FORREST GUMP, Sally Field, Michael Conner Humphreys, 1994

Forrest Gump, Sally Field and Michael Conner Humphreys, 1994

We think the $62 million loss was well worth it, not just because it’s a great movie, but because it inspired so many great online videos, like this bulldog puppy imitating Forrest Gump.

4. A little career jump starter.

Haley Joel Osment’s first role ever was in Forrest Gump. He played Forrest Junior.

3. “Imagine all the people.”

Almost all of John Lennon’s lines in the film are lyrics from his song “Imagine.”  In the film, Lennon says, “No possessions,” “No religion too,” and “It’s easy if you try.”

2. Three, two, one, lift off!

Gary Sinise’s character tells Tom Hanks’s character that the day Forrest works on a shrimp boat will be the day he’s an astronaut. This is a reference to the book, where Forrest actually becomes an astronaut, and the following year, Sinise and Hanks appeared together as astronauts in Apollo 13 (1995).

1. Historical accuracy.

Tom Hanks signed onto the film after an hour and a half of reading the script but agreed only to take the role if the film was historically accurate. He initially wanted to ease Forrest’s pronounced Southern accent, but was eventually persuaded by director Robert Zemeckis to portray the heavy accent stressed in the novel.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

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