What Fans Don’t Realize About Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is an award-winning film, and unforgettable in its plots and themes, but there are a lot of details that the producers don’t want you to know. It’s in all those secrets, unknown facts and embellishments, though, that some of the real beauty (and our fascination) with this film are found.

The film helped to launch the careers, and further the importance of many of our favorite actors: Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Haley Joel Osment, Mykelti Williamson, and more. Learn more about the Forrest Gump: the movie, the lives it touched, and the funny bloopers you missed.

The Case Of The Mysterious Missing Ping Pong Ball

Parmount Pictures
Parmount Pictures

Regardless that there are numerous scenes that are CGI-altered, one that most audiences tend to not notice are those revolving around his ping-pong career. One of the major focal points of the film, the scenes when he is playing the game are all completely fabricated.

Surely, no one doubt that Hanks would have dedicated the time to become skilled at the sport, production figured that they would lend him a hand. While Hanks may have done some work, the rest is movie magic.

They Hired Tourists To Fill Roles

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Although most Hollywood films don’t take chances with anybody that isn’t a professional actor, some people who appear in Forrest Gump are nothing more than tourists. One, in particular, is the reporter who appears in the movie.

While filming in Washington DC, the crew pulled aside a tourist and asked if he was willing to spare a few minutes to be in the movie. They handed him his lines, let him rehearse for a few minutes, and then shot the scene. Little did he know how popular the movie would be!

There Was A Major Age Discrepancy

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Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Sally Field, the actress who played Forret’s mother, aged drastically throughout the film. Introduced as a confident, independent, and loving mother, the audience watches as she slowly ages throughout the years up until her death.

However, Interesting, Sally Field is actually 10 years older than Tom Hanks! We have to give props to the makeup department for making her look so convincing! According to Field, She’s a woman who loves her son unconditionally,” and she plays the role perfectly.

The Classic Forrest Gump Shirt

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Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

In the scenes when Forrest is sitting on the bench, telling his story to anyone that will listen, he is wearing a blue and white checkered shirt. Of course, fans assume that the shirt has to mean something, considering that the film is so detailed and just about every scene has a purpose.

One popular theory is that he wears the shirt as a reminder of where he came from. It’s a simple shirt, just like his upbringing. He was a struggling child, raised by a single mother in the south. Yet, he still managed to become incredibly successful.

Lucking Out Financially

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Funny enough, after Forrest and Lieutenant Dan got the massive shrimp haul during the hurricane, Lt. Dan invested their earnings into more shrimp boats as well as “some kind of fruit company.”

That “fruit comapny” turned out to be Apple Computer Inc., which earned Forrest enough money so that he could be comfortable for the rest of his life. As of today, considering Forrest’s investment, he would easily be a multi-millionaire, plenty of money for him, his son, and even his grandchildren.

That’s An Expensive Bench!

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Considering that Forrest Gump is one of the most well-known and popular films of all time, it’s not surprising to learn that many of the props used in the movie sold for a decent amount of money. one of these items was the bench that Forrest sits on during the present time in the film.

In 2013, the bench was auctioned for $25,000! That’s quite a lot of money for a simple bench. of course, it will only appreciate in value over the coming years.

Haley Joel Osment Got His Start In The Movie

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Easily one of the most touching aspects of the film is Forret’s interaction with his son, Forrest Jr. Playing Forrest Jr. was actually Haley Joel Osment’s debut role, and there’s no doubt that he was perfect for the part.

Although his mother, Jenny, kept him a secret from Forrest for three years, Forrest had no problem taking up a fatherly role when he discovered he was his biological father. Playing Forrest Jr. was crucial in launching Osmand’s career. He would later go on to star in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.

Vietnam Isn’t Where You Think It Is

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

There are a couple of instances in the film where things are shown that did yet exist. For example, in a scene where Jenny is doing drugs, the song “Get Down Tonight” is playing, yet the song wouldn’t have been released for another year, in 1975.

Another scene, when Jenny is visiting Forrest on what is supposed to be the Fourth of July in 1976, the TV shows the Statue of Liberty holding a gold torch. But the gold wasn’t added to the statue until 1986 when it was restored.

The Lt. Dan Band Is Giving Back

It appears that actor Gary Sinise wasn’t entirely ready to let his Forrest Gump character, Luitenant Dan, go away. Instead, he started the Lt. Dan band in 2004, a cover band that performs at United Service Organization Shows.

Although the band’s ultimate goal is to entertain veterans, they also help raise money for disabled veterans. Named after his character Lieutenant Dan Taylor, Sinise travels the country, entertaining veterans, troops, and other non-profit events. He’s a big hit!

You Never See Forrest’s Eyes

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

It’s no secret that the film leaves a lot of clues for the audience to discover themselves. Those who pay close attention are usually rewarded with little Easter eggs that the casual viewer might not catch on to. One of these subtle nods is that in every picture taken of Forrest Gump, his eyes are closed.

Although it may seem like a coincidence, if you watch closely, you’ll notice that his eyes are shut in every single photograph. The reason behind it is unclear, but most people assume it is a joke the filmmakers planted for the audience.

Greenbow, Alabama Doesn’t Actually Exist

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

While it may sound like a completely believable little Alabama town, in reality, Forrest Gump’s childhood town of Greenbow, Alabama doesn’t exist. The town was made up for the film and even differs from the novel.

According to the book, Forrest grew up in Mobile, Alabama. Although Greenbow might be fictional, Bayou La Batre is a real place and the birthplace of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. So, not everything is completely fabricated as it may seem!

The Film Changed Hank’s Life

Although Tom Hanks is considered to be one of the greatest actors of our time, it was Forrest Gump that elevated to the status that he is held in today.

While he’d played comedic roles previous to the film, Forrest Gump demonstrated exactly what he was capable of and the depth of talent he possesses. The movie was a turning point in his career and is easily one of the most recognizable roles in his career.

Continuity Error

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Something that producers didn’t catch when editing the film was the date of Jenny’s death. On her tombstone, it says that she passed away on March 22, 1982. Forrest later states, “You died on a Sunday morning,” which isn’t possible because March 22, 1982, was actually on a Monday.

Although it doesn’t actually affect the plot of the film, some movie snobs have a hard time looking past this one small mistake. You can’t satisfy everyone!

Tom Hanks’ Brother Was His Double

run forrest run
@GomerBlog/Twitter
@GomerBlog/Twitter

One of the most memorable takeaways from Forrest Gump is the classic line, “Run Forrest, Run!” Throughout the film, Forrest finds himself running away from bullies, into the endzone, saving his comrades, and running across the country. Although the character of Forrest could run endlessly, that wasn’t the case for Tom Hanks.

In fact, he actually needed a body double for a few of his running scenes, and who else better than his brother? One of the most notable scenes is when Forrest is running across the bridge, except it’s his brother Jim Hanks!

The Role Of Bubba Almost Went To Someone Else

Before filming, the producers of the film had a few ideas on who they wanted to play the iconic character Bubba. First, they reached out to Ice Cube, David Alan Grier, and even Dave Chappelle. However, they each declined the role with Chapelle later admitting that he regretted not taking the part.

So, they ended up with Mykelti Williamson, who turned out to be the perfect actor for the role. There’s no one else we could imagine listing off every way to prepare shrimp other than him.

The Soundtrack Is Iconic

One aspect of the film that makes it so memorable is the soundtrack. Yes, the storytelling, acting, and editing are excellent, the soundtrack really ties the whole thing together.

The original soundtrack for the film was released on the same day of the film and found itself at the No. 7 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart, eventually making its way to No. 2. Some prominent artists on the soundtrack include The Doors, Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, among others.

What Did Jenny Actually Die From?

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

At the end of the film, it is revealed that Forrest’s love, Jenny Curran, is ill with a terminal disease. Although her exact diagnosis is never revealed, fans have plenty of theories about what she was dying from.

Looking back on her life, many people have assumed that she suffered from Hepatitis C or HIV, considering the type of life that Jenny had lived. She was on the streets used drugs, so it was assumed that this is what she contracted.

Tom Hanks’ Paycheck

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Although many people might assume that Tom Hanks received a big check for his performance in the film, it was a little bit different than that. Instead of being directly paid for acting, in his contract, he signed up for a percentage of the studios’ box-office revenues.

This is usually considered risky because if the movie doesn’t do well, you don’t make as much, but it can also be very rewarding if you’re lucky. In Tom Hanks’ case, it worked out swimmingly, and we’re sure he’s still living off those Forrest Gump paychecks.

What Did Forrest Gump Say About the Vietnam War?

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

it’s highly possible that Forrest’s speech about Vietnam was inaudible during the Vietnam War rally. Many people assume that what Forrest might have said would offend people one way or another, so they just decided to make it so that you couldn’t hear what he had to say. At the end of the day, they were making a movie and not a political statement.

However, if you listen closely, you can hear him say “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.”

Hanks Wasn’t Top Priority

Although nobody can imagine Forrest Gump without Tom Hanks as the star, the actor wasn’t necessarily the producer’s first choice. Other actors were actually considered for the role including Chevy Chase, John Travolta, and Bill Murray.

Unfortunately for them, they all turned down the role except for Tom Hanks, who was unaware that the film would go down in movie history. Today, it’s regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, and surely the other actors are kicking themselves for not taking the role.

They Used Plenty Of Movie Magic

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Because the film covers several decades of American history, the filmmakers decided to use actual footage to make the movie seem as legitimate as possible. One of the most notable scenes in the movie is when Forrest receives the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Of course, that didn’t actually happen, and it was the magic of CGI that made it look like Johnson was putting the medal around Hanks’ neck. Convincing to say the least!

The Question Everyone Is Wondering

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

One of the most important scenes in the film is when Forrest asks Jenny to marry him. Although she declines, she later comes into his room, admits that she loves him, and the two spend the night together. However, in the morning, Forrest wakes up only to realize that Jenny has fled once again.

It isn’t until later that we learn Forrest Jr. was conceived that evening. Yet, what stumps audiences is how Forrest didn’t contract HIV during his night with Jenny unprotected. If jenny was sick at the time, surely, she would have made Forrest sick as well.

An Iconic Line

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

One of the most iconic lines of the film is “My name’s Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.” Although it’s a simple line, it grew to become one of the most well-known moments of the film. However, the line wasn’t actually even in the script.

Tom Hanks ad-libbed it, and director Robert Zemeckis thought that it had a nice right ring to it. So, they decided not to just keep it, but also sprinkle it throughout the rest of the film.

The Film Earned Numerous Accolades

Considering how popular it is, it isn’t shocking that the film received six Academy Awards including Best Picture. Although some people claim that the movie is too sappy or melodramatic, it’s so packed full of nostalgia that people who lived during any of the decades shown can’t help but relate to it.

Furthermore, the film covers so many themes ranging from individuality to even death that it’s hard to write it off entirely. This is one of the many reasons it has withstood the test of time.

Forrest’s Experience Meeting The President

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Another scene that particularly sticks out in the film is when Forrest Gump meets John F. Kennedy, the President of the United States. What makes it unique is how Forrest interprets the situation. While most people might be in awe to meet the president, Forrest only comments on the quality of the food.

He states, “The really good thing about meeting the President of the United States is the food. They put you in this little room with just about anything you’d want to eat or drink. But since, number one, I wasn’t hungry, but thirsty, and number two, they was free, I must have drank me about fifteen Dr. Peppers.” Definitely, only something Forrest would say.

Earning The Presidential Honor Of Freedom

Today, Tom Hanks is regarded as one of the most successful and influential actors of his time. This is why former President Barack Obama awarded him in 2016 with the Presidential Honor of Freedom. This made Hanks one of the one people who have ever receive the honor and signifies the highest honor that a civilian can achieve.

During the ceremony, Obama noted, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest honor — it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change the country for the better.” It’s basically a summary of Forrest Gump.

Forrest’s Accent Was Inspired By A Young Boy

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Of course, one of the most memorable characteristics of Forrest Gump is his accent. It’s clearly heavily influenced by southern accents considering that Forrest is from Alabama. However, in 2015, Hanks revealed that the true inspiration behind his accent was Michael Connor Humphreys, the actor who played Forrest as a young boy.

Humphry had a thick Mississippi accent, emphasizing the letter “g.” Hanks really liked it and decided to try and replicate it in the adult version of Forrest. Although it took some practice, Hanks eventually got it down.

That’s A Lot Of Shrimp!

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

While the time Forrest spends as a shrimp catcher is one of the best periods of the film, there’s another error that only some viewers might have caught. When Forrest catches a load of shrimp, they spill out onto the deck of the boat.

However, if you’re paying attention, you might notice that the shrimp dumped from the net are already headless and dead. Of course, nobody expected them to use live shrimp, but it’s something trivial that some people might have caught.

Not All The Dates Make Sense

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

While the film may try to be historically accurate as possible, because the film moves through so many decades, there are bound to be a few slip-ups. One of these is when jenny is participating in drugs with the sound “Get Down Tonight” playing in the background.

However, that particular song didn’t come out until 1975, years from when the scene is supposed to take place. Another scene shows the Statue of Liberty on the TV holding her gold torch. Yet, the torch wasn’t added to the statue until 1986.

The House Was Only Built For The Film

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Forrest Gump’s gorgeous property in the fictional Greenbow, Alabama never existed before the film. It was constructed specifically for the film with the set designers instructed to make it seem as though the house had a lot of history to it.

After wrapping up shooting, the crew was then ordered to destroy the house because the structure was said to be “built hastily and not to code.” Today, there would be plenty of people willing to pay a pretty penny to live in that house.

The Film Led To The Creation Of A Company

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

After Forrest makes a decent amount of money selling ping-pong paddles, he takes his earnings and invests it into a shrimping company. In remembrance of his friend, Bubba, he buys a boat and names it “Bubba Gump.”

Unsurprisingly, the business turns out to be exceptionally lucrative. Because of the popularity of the film, in 1995, the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company opened its doors in Monterey, California. Currently, there are locations in over 10 different counties.

Eye On The Ball

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

One of the things that Forrest Gump does best is perfectly executing subtleties throughout the film. one of these is when Forrest is learning how to play ping-pong after he is injured in Vietnam. The soldier coaching him tells him that the key is to “keep your eye on the ball.”

From then on, whenever Forrest is playing the game you never see him blink. While it may not be all that groundbreaking, it’s one of the small things that separate Forrest Gump from other films.

Jenny Almost Went To Someone Else

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Robin Wright may have been the perfect actress to portray Jenny Curran; she wasn’t always the filmmaker’s first option. In fact, several other actresses were going to play the character potentially.

Other actresses considered included Demi Moore and Nicole Kidman, yet Wright landed the part. For her performance, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award a Saturn Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Today, Forrest Gump remains one of her most significant roles.

Sinise And Hanks Are Good Friends

Vince Bucci / Stringer
Vince Bucci / Stringer

Although Forrest Gump was the first time that Hanks and Sinise were in front of the camera together, it wouldn’t be the last. After the film, the two went on to film the movie Apollo 13 together as well as The Green Mile.

When Hanks received his AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, he noted that when filming Forrest Gump with Sinise, “It was clear to me that I was working with an actor as gifted as they come. Every day on the set, I was lucky enough to have a front-row seat. Thanks, buddy.”

You Can Visit A Famous Scene

Robert Alexander / Contributor
Robert Alexander / Contributor

Since most of the places in the film were built or don’t actually exist, there is one place that you can actually visit and looks the exact same. This is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in southeastern Utah.

A memorial for the film was built which reads: “Forrest Gump ended his cross-country run at this spot.” This is a popular tourist attraction for fans who want to see exactly where Forrest decided to turn around and go home.

Forrest Is Popular Among Runners

Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Considering that Forrest Gump ran across the country with little to no formal training and because he felt like it, he’s definitely popular among runners. It’s not uncommon to see marathon and other recreational runners with Forrest Gump tattoos during the time in his life when he was running.

After all, one of the film’s most memorable quotes is “Run, Forrest, Run!” A saying that must be the mantra for a lot of runners on the last stretch of a race.

Lieutenant Dan’s Legs

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

If you’re familiar with actor Gary Sinise, you know that he didn’t actually6 have his legs blown off during the Vietnam War. That was just for his character, Lieutenant Dam, who is confined to a wheelchair after returning from the war.

Although it doesn’t look like he has legs, a little editing was done to make this possible. In order to achieve the effect, Sinise wore blue fabric over his legs which were then digitally edited so they looked like they weren’t there.

You Can See The Original Park Bench Forrest Gump Sat On

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Even though the actual bench sold for $25,000 at auction, you can still go see one of the famous park benches in the movie for yourself. Because the bench is is essentially an entire set, the filmmakers wanted to make their benches, especially for the film.

They constructed a total of four of them, and after the movie finished, one of the benches was donated to the Savanna History Museum in Georgia. They are constructed from fiberglass and aren’t going anywhere.

Kurt Russell Wasn’t In The Movie

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

For a period of time, it was rumored that actor Kurt Russell had an uncredited role as the voice of Elvis Presley in the film. In the scene when Forrest is showing off his dancing skills to Elvis, a lot of fans thought that they heard Kurt Russel’s voice and convinced themselves it was him.

Although the rumor was never confirmed by Paramount, eventually, Peter Dobson was credited with the small role. However, Russel did play Presley in the film, Elvis.

A Possible Sequel

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Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Because Forrest Gump was so successful, it wasn’t unheard of when people began to talk about the potential for a sequel. However, at the time that the movie came out, Hanks wasn’t interested in making another Forrest Gump film and wanted to try something new.

Yet, the idea of a sequel didn’t vanish and was still circulating for years after Hanks had declined the opportunity. While some were trying to push the film Gump & Co., there were numerous delays and there still hasn’t been any progress.