It’s been 30 years since Tom Hanks stepped into Forrest Gump’s oddball shoes and ran for three years, two months, 14 days and 16 hours. The epic comedy-drama spawned a plethora of quotes and picked up 13 Oscar nominations, winning six, including Best Picture. We’ve found a few fascinating facts about the 1994 classic.
The movie was based on a novel by Winston Groom, who envisaged Roseanne star John Goodman in the title role. The studio wanted Bill Murray, Chevy Chase or John Travolta, but none was available. Now it’s impossible to imagine anyone but Tom playing endearing, kind-hearted Forrest.
What’s my line?
One of the best lines in the movie was ad-libbed. When Bubba met Forrest, he said, “My given name is Benjamin Buford Blue, but people call me Bubba.” At this point, Tom went off script, saying, “My name is Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.” The director loved it. Another famous line was when Forrest announced, “My mamma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.'” The quote resonated with audiences, but Tom refuses to reprise the line for talk-show hosts, saying it’s akin to asking Robert De Niro to repeat his famous Taxi Driver quote, “You talkin’ to me?”
Actor Peter Dobson played a lodger who arrived at the Gump household with a guitar case in hand. He turned out to be a not-yet-famous Elvis Presley. The director cleverly hid Peter by making him out of focus and filming him from behind, and instead of using Peter’s voice, the part was voiced by Hollywood A-lister Kurt Russell. Kurt was not credited and his part in the movie was
kept secret for decades.
Lieutenant Dan’s unique wheels
A stage magician was hired to hide actor Gary Sinise’s lower limbs. Gary’s character Lt Dan Taylor lost both legs below the knee in the Vietnam War and master illusionist Ricky Jay devised a wheelchair to make it appear that way. He did it by creating a hidden platform underneath the chair for Gary’s pins to rest on, but it was incredibly uncomfortable and the actor could only endure the chair for 10 minutes at a time.
The scenes in which Forrest tells strangers his life story were shot in Chippewa Square, Savannah, Georgia. The square has several park benches, but none of them faced the street so Tom could wait for a bus. A fibreglass bench used for the job is now in the Savannah History Museum.
When it came to performing Forrest’s high-knee, arm-pumping run, Tom needed a few doubles and none was better than his younger brother Jim, also an actor. “Tom had other doubles, but they couldn’t do the run,” Jim, 62, explains. “That’s a stupid Hanks thing.” Jim has also done voice substitution work for Tom, 67, including on the animated film Toy Story, in which Tom was Sheriff Woody Pride.
Haley Joel’s big break
In 1993, director Robert Zemeckis was on the hunt for a youngster to play Forrest’s son (also named Forrest), when he spotted an adorable five-year-old in a Pizza Hut TV ad. That whippersnapper was Haley Joel Osment, who bagged his first movie part. Six years later, his role as the boy who saw dead people in The Sixth Sense earned him an Oscar nomination.