20 fact you might not know about 'Forrest Gump'
Paramount Pictures

20 fact you might not know about 'Forrest Gump'

“Forrest Gump.” Just saying that film's title will create polarized conversation on the internet. At the time, it was beloved. Tom Hanks made Oscar history with his Best Actor win. It took home Best Picture for 1994. Of course, time is not kind to all films, even Oscar winners. There’s an interesting story to the Robert Zemeckis movie. Whether or not you like the film, these 20 facts about “Forrest Gump” might be intriguing, and if nothing else provide fodder for your next debate.

 
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“Forrest Gump” is based on a novel

“Forrest Gump” is based on a novel
Paramount

“Forrest Gump” began life as a 1986 novel by Winston Groom. It’s pretty much the only novel that Groom is known for, but obviously, it brought him a great deal of success. The book actually wasn’t super popular when it was released, but sold over one million copies after the film came out.

 
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Not everything in the book made its way into the movie

Not everything in the book made its way into the movie
Paramount

The book, like the film, is about a slow-witted man making his way through life and finding himself in the middle of many noteworthy historical events, sometimes inadvertently causing them. Forrest catches the Watergate burglars, for example. The book featured some events in Forrest’s life that didn’t make the movie, though. He goes into space, for example, and also becomes a professional wrestler.

 
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John Travolta was the original choice to play Forrest

John Travolta was the original choice to play Forrest
Paramount

It’s hard to imagine anybody but Tom Hanks in the role of Gump now, but he wasn’t the first choice. They wanted John Travolta, but he passed. It could have been a truly amazing year for Travolta. In 1994 he had his “comeback” by starring in “Pulp Fiction.” In the end, Hanks got the role, though Bill Murray and Chevy Chase were also considered.

 
4 of 20

Tom Hanks wasn’t sure about the Southern accent

Tom Hanks wasn’t sure about the Southern accent
Paramount

In the book, Forrest is from rural Alabama and thus has a thick Southern accent. For the movie, Hanks wasn’t sure about that and tried to reel in the robustness of the accent a bit. However, director Robert Zemeckis asked Hanks to lean into the thick accent described in the novel, and he agreed.

 
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Haley Joel Osment made his debut in “Forrest Gump”

Haley Joel Osment made his debut in “Forrest Gump”
Paramount

Osment would break into stardom as a child in “The Sixth Sense.” Even before that, though, he was in a hit movie. Osment plays Jenny’s son at the end of “Forrest Gump.” It was his first film, having been discovered thanks to a Pizza Hut ad he appeared in for their “Bigfoot Pizza” offering.

 
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Dıck Cavett played himself

Dıck Cavett played himself
New Line Cinema

A lot of famous people from the past show up in “Forrest Gump” thanks to archival footage and CGI. One person appears as themselves, though. That would be TV host Dıck Cavett, who has never been shy about self-promotion (but in a self-effacing way). Cavett merely used makeup to look like he did back in the day.

 
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Robert Zemeckis wasn’t the first choice to direct

Robert Zemeckis wasn’t the first choice to direct
Paramount

Zemeckis was already a successful director by the time production of “Forrest Gump” began, but he was not a lock to helm this movie. Terry Gilliam turned down a chance to direct the film, which makes sense. The man behind movies like “Brazil” and “12 Monkeys” would have been an odd choice. Barry Sonnenfeld was also considered, but he chose to do “Addams Family Values” instead.

 
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Sally Field had previously played Tom Hanks’ love interest in a film

Sally Field had previously played Tom Hanks’ love interest in a film
Paramount

Field plays Forrest’s mother, both when he is a child and when he’s an adult. Some old-age makeup was required for the latter. Field is only 10 years older than Hanks. In fact, the two played contemporaries and love interests in the ‘80s comedy “Punchline.”

 
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Zemeckis embraced his love of special effects and CGI

Zemeckis embraced his love of special effects and CGI
Paramount

Zemeckis is known for his affinity for special effects. He’s the guy who made “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf,” after all. While he didn’t go all out for “Forrest Gump,” he used a lot of CGI, especially for 1994. With the help of ILM, Zemeckis used CGI to have Hanks interact with folks like John F. Kennedy, and also to create the illusion that Gary Sinise’s Lieutenant Dan had actually lost his legs.

 
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It’s Zemeckis’ highest-grossing movie (and that’s saying something)

It’s Zemeckis’ highest-grossing movie (and that’s saying something)
Paramount

“Forrest Gump” proved a populous smash. It made over $300 million at the box office in the United States, finishing second only to “The Lion King.” Overall, “Forrest Gump” has made over $683 million worldwide. It’s Zemeckis’ highest-grossing film, and he’s the man who directed all three “Back to the Future” movies among other successes.

 
11 of 20

Hanks won his second Best Actor Oscar in a row

Hanks won his second Best Actor Oscar in a row
Paramount

Apparently, the thick accent didn’t get in Hanks’ way. He won Best Actor for “Forrest Gump.” This was notable, as Hanks had just won Best Actor the year prior for “Philadelphia.” Only one other man has done that, the legendary actor Spencer Tracy, who did it way back in 1937 and 1938.

 
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Beyond Hanks, “Forrest Gump” was a (controversial) Oscars success

Beyond Hanks, “Forrest Gump” was a (controversial) Oscars success
Paramount

Hanks wasn’t the only one who went home happy at the Academy Award. “Forrest Gump” took home six Oscars total. One of those went to Zemeckis for Best Director. It took home the big prize as well (no matter what Steven Soderbergh might believe) in Best Picture. This has become controversial in hindsight. The year 1994 also gave us “Pulp Fiction” and “Shawshank Redemption,” two much-loved movies.

 
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You may be quoting one of the iconic lines incorrectly

You may be quoting one of the iconic lines incorrectly
Paramount

One line from “Forrest Gump” ended up on AFI’s list of iconic movie quotes. You know the line: “Mama says life is like a box of chocolates.” Ah, but that’s not the actual quote. In the movie, Forrest says, “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” So yeah, maybe you were slightly off. In the book, though, the line Forrest says is “Being an idiot is no box of chocolates.”

 
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A sequel novel was written in the wake of the movie’s success

A sequel novel was written in the wake of the movie’s success
Paramount

Groom’s novel “Forrest Gump” sold a ton of copies after the movie was a hit. This led to a sequel novel that may have been a bit of a cash-in. “Gump & Co” came out in 1995, right in the wake of Zemeckis’ film. The book picks up in the ‘80s and gets a little meta. Gump even meets Tom Hanks!

 
15 of 20

Plans for a sequel movie were quashed in a grim way

Plans for a sequel movie were quashed in a grim way
Paramount

“Gump & Co” was naturally optioned for a movie, because why wouldn’t you want to make a sequel of a movie that made over $600 million and won Best Picture? A screenplay for the sequel was written in 2001 by Eric Roth, who also wrote the script for “Forrest Gump.” Then, 9/11 happened. All the key figures decided that rendered the script irrelevant, and the project was nixed.

 
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An Indian remake is in the works

An Indian remake is in the works
Paramount

There are plans in the work for an Indian take on the Forrest Gump story. Aamir Khan, a Bollywood star, is attached to star and produce. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak has left the project up in the air, though it is still planned to be made eventually.

 
17 of 20

Hanks doesn’t blink whenever Forrest plays table tennis

Hanks doesn’t blink whenever Forrest plays table tennis
Paramount

In the film, Forrest is given a recommendation on how to improve at table tennis: Keep your eye on the ball. Forrest takes that literally. Hanks went so far as to not blink in any of the scenes where Forrest plays ping pong, and there are quite a few of them.

 
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Gary Sinise has a band inspired by his role in the film

Gary Sinise has a band inspired by his role in the film
Paramount

Sinise, who plays Lieutenant Dan, used his role in this movie to lend a helping hand. He is the frontman of the Lt. Dan Band, a cover band that has played at USO shows and has done extensive work to raise money for veterans.

 
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Hanks and Sinise have success when they work together

Hanks and Sinise have success when they work together
Paramount

Some actors just make magic together. Hanks and Sinise have been in three films together: “Forrest Gump,” “Apollo 13,” and “The Green Mile.” All three movies were nominated for Best Picture, though only “Forrest Gump” emerged victorious.

 
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You have to pay attention to learn Jenny’s last name

You have to pay attention to learn Jenny’s last name
Paramount

Jenny, Forrest’s lifelong love, is a tragic figure. She’s also just “Jenny.” Her last name is never spoken in the movie. The only way to know is to look at some of the mail that is delivered to her. Jenny’s last name? Curran.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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