Tom Hanks has had quite the career as an actor. In 1994, Hanks delivered what was one of the best performances of his career in Forrest Gump. Robert Zemeckis’ directed film provided humor and emotional depth while the movie managed to resonate with audiences everywhere.
Not only did the movie do well at the box office, but it also won half of the dozen awards it was nominated for at the 67th Academy Awards. Nonetheless, there are tons of points about the film that remain a mystery. From his war-pal Bubba to the fact that the movie was based on a book, there are some interesting facts about the kind-hearted man from Alabama. What happened to the bench after the film was released?
Forrest Meets Lyndon B. Johnson
Forrest met Lyndon B. Johnson when he received his Medal of Honor. Interestingly enough, that is the real footage from that moment. Obviously, it wasn’t footage obtained by the crew of the movie. That moment comes from the 1968 ceremony of Sammy L. Davis.
Davis, much like Forrest, received this prestigious award for his courageous service in Vietnam. Hanks’ face was just slapped onto Davis’ body, only to give the illusion that Forrest was standing face-to-face with the 36th President of the United States.
A Mock Of War
Before Forrest even gets his medal of honor, he’s deployed to the war in Vietnam. It’s clear that the war scenes were not really shot in Vietnam. It was nothing but the magic of Hollywood that achieved such a daring yet surreal and scary time of the sixties.
From the muddy ground to the jungles and the swamps, it’s interesting to know how the crew did it. Well, the Vietnam War scene with Forrest unfolded on a golf course on Fripp Island, just off the coast of South Carolina. CGI worked its magic with the earthy Vietnam jungle feel.
The King Of Rock And Roll
There are quite a few notable faces in Forrest Gump. One of them was the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. For one, it’s kind of hard to see which actor plays Elvis in this particular scene. That man was Kurt Russel, who actually provided Elvis with his signature voice.
Despite the brief cameo, Russel played the part very convincingly. However, his name is nowhere to be found when the credits roll at the end of the movie. Russel also portrayed Elvis in the 1979 made-for-television movie, Elvis.
Perfecting The Southern Accent
One of the key characteristics of the slow-witted, kind-hearted man was his distinct accent. Of course, that’s not the real accent of Tom Hanks, so he did his homework and took some time to perfect the accent. It even helped that he had someone whose voice he could use for inspiration.
Hanks modeled the accent after one of his co-stars in the film. Hanks adopted the accent from Michael Connor Humphreys, who played young Forrest in the film. Even Humphreys would win a Young Artist Award for his role.
Speech, Speech, Speech
One of the most significant scenes from the movie was Forrest’s speech. He stands proudly before a curious audience in Washinton, D.C., to deliver such an intriguing speech. Then, the microphone cuts out, which was a total shame.
Forrest did have something important to say after all. “Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mamas 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”. What a meaningful speech that could have been.
Exclusion Of An Activist
Forrest meets people from the likes of Elvis to Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon. However, one famous figure was actually cut from the movie completely — Martin Luther King, Jr.
The scene featured riot police releasing German Shepherds on Rev. King and his supporters. Forrest then jumps in and distracts them with a game of fetch. Robert Zemeckis cut the scene out because people felt it cheapened the very real injustice of racial inequality and it was all in bad taste. The cut-scene is available on the special collector’s edition DVD.
CGI Fooled People
CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) was able to come up with some convincing illusions even back in 1994. Most of the effects in the movie went unnoticed by viewers for years, only until they zeroed in on it or a friend pointed out the obvious.
Shooting a ping-pong tournament is a daunting task. That little ball goes here, there, and everywhere. For the actors who do not know much about the game, CGI was a lifesaver. That ball audiences saw between Forrest and his opponent was never real, it was all the work of CGI.
One couldn’t help but feel for Lieutenant Dan. While there was an attitude with some gruffness to him, there was a lot to love about the character. Gary Sinise did a great job when his character becomes vulnerable, uncertain, and crippled from the Vietnam War.
Sinise sat in a wheelchair and appeared to have no legs. However, the genius digital team behind the film simply had him wear a blue fabric that neatly concealed his lower legs, thus achieving a very convincing illusion that he’s paralyzed from the waist down.
Photo Credit: Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Forrest’s good friend at war, Bubba, had a lifelong dream of reigning over the shrimping business. He even invited Forrest to tag along with him as soon as they were freed from the war. Unfortunately, Bubba doesn’t make it back home to live his dream.
Nevertheless, Bubba would be thrilled to know that his legacy lives on. For any shrimp lovers out there, people can head out to any number of Bubba Gump Co. across numerous locations in the United States. Oh, and there are locations in China too.
The bench Forrest sits on waiting for his bus in Savannah, Georgia is iconic. So, once filming wrapped up, many people were curious to know what actually happened to the bench. It could have sat there in the sun, but that was never the case.
Officials in Savannah found that the bench would be too much of a treasure to allow it to remain vulnerable to the public eye. The fear was that someone would try to make a quick buck off of it or mischevious kids might do some crude graffiti. So, naturally, the bench was placed in the Savannah History Museum.
Most people don’t know this, but Forrest Gump is based on a book. The movie differs in some ways from the novel, with most changes concerning the character of Forrest. In the film, his loveable, childlike naivety is pretty different from the novel.
Even the ‘box of chocolate’ quote was different too. The quote from the book is as follows “Let me say this: being an idiot is no box of chocolates. People laugh, lose patience, 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 easy”.
More On Bubba Shrimp
Fans can get a taste of the Bubba Gump shrimp in numerous locations around the world. One particular location is in Orlando, Florida, where fans of the movie or shrimp lovers will be in for a special treat when it comes to Bubba’s signature shrimp dishes.
Fans can see the actual shrimp boat that appeared in the movie, alongside a moat that surrounds the Orlando restaurant. Inside the actual restaurant are the ping-pong paddles Tom Hanks used in the film, and they’re autographed by the man himself.
One of the most classic scenes in Forrest Gump was when he appears on The Dick Cavett Show. Forrest appears alongside Beatle-great, John Lennon, and in the movie, Forrest had just returned from playing ping-pong in China. He appears to help Lennon inspire a song too.
Forrest helped inspired the iconic musician to write Imagine. Once again, the impressive digital effects were used to create this scene. The scene was a real one from the show, but for the movie, Yoko Ono was digitally removed and replaced with Hanks.
Run Forrest, Run Forrest, Go Forrest
Everyone knows that Forrest can run and Drake even implied it in one of his songs too. But, Forrest’s cross-country run was inspired by a real-life event. At just 16 years old, Louis Michael Figueroa ran all the way across the United States from New Jersey to San Francisco. The story is rather uplifting.
In 1982, the teenager set off on foot from his state of New Jersey to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society. When Forrest says the line “When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go the bathroom, I went”, that was the exact same thing Figueroa said during his run.
No Love For the Author
Winston Groom would have been overjoyed to know that his novel inspired such a classic film. The creative minds behind the film said the movie would be poetic as to how much the novel would shape out the overall project. Sadly, no one ever recognized the author who wrote it.
Not one person even acknowledged him in a speech at the Academy Awards. No one bothered to mutter a single thank you to him in private as well. Essentially, he never saw a paycheck for his contributions to one of the best films of the nineties.
The Other Forrest Gump
It’s hard to imagine someone that’s not Tom Hanks playing the role of Forrest Gump. He fit so perfectly into the role that he was very deserving of his Best Actor Oscar at the Academy Awards. Believe it or not, he was not the only choice for the part of Forrest.
Some of the actors who were considered for the part were Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and John Travolta. All three actors declined, but not without some serious seconds thoughts. Travolta might be beating himself up for passing up on the role, but he did a wonderful job portraying Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction.
Mykelti Williamson was breathtaking when he played Bubba. He looked and played the part so well that it was easy to overlook one notable thing about him. Thanks to the wonders of Hollywood magic, his lower lip became a piece of movie history whenever he spoke.
That jutting lip that was associated with Bubba was just a prosthetic. He even had to be fitted for it, which took quite awhile to perfect. It fooled everyone who’s seen it and many people were shocked when they saw the actor offset, not sporting the feature.
No Recognition Whatsoever
It’s borderline insulting that Winston Groom never got respect for his movie. Not only that, but many people failed to recognize that the film was based on Groom’s book. Heck, he even wrote a sequel to the book entitled Gump & Co. When the film was re-released for Imax in 2014, it wasn’t shown in Groom’s hometown of Mobile, Alabama.
It wasn’t intentional, but that’s just embarrassing Winston got no love for his book. It’s like filming all seven Harry Potter books, then dominating the box office, then getting awards without even recognizing J.K. Rowling.
Tom Did That?
The movie did so poorly financially that Tom Hanks didn’t even receive an actor’s fee for the movie. Instead, he opted to be paid in percentage points, which earned him around $40 million. The man who played Forrest was paid much more than the man who wrote the book, as Groom was paid $350,000 for the screenplay rights.
Outside of that, he opted to receive a three percent share of the movie’s net profits. However, the films didn’t make a profit, leaving the author with nothing. That led to a dispute between Groom and Paramount which was settled after they bought the rights for another one of his books.
Peace And Love
The peace rally at Lincoln Memorial was chaotic, but at the same time, it seemed so deliberate. Directing almost 2,000 extras to do what you want, when you want, all at once is no easy task. It’s pretty much like hell on Earth.
The number of actors that actually made up the scene dropped to 1,500. Thanks to the marvels of digital editing, they were able to expand that crowd to make it look much larger. It took about two days to film the entire scene and thankfully, it was very well done.