Chippewa Square, the setting for the famous bench scene, does not actually have any benches on the outside of the square that faces the street, only inside the square. The bench was placed there for that scene only by the production team.
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."
Tom Hanks signed onto this film after an hour and a half of reading the script, but agreed to take the role only on the condition that the film was historically accurate. He initially wanted to ease Forrest's pronounced Southern accent, but was eventually persuaded by Robert Zemeckis to portray the heavy accent stressed in the novel, and he patterned his accent after Michael Conner Humphreys (young Forrest), who actually spoke that way.
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.
The running scene was inspired by an actual event. In 1982, Louis Michael Figueroa, aged 16, ran from New Jersey to San Francisco for the American Cancer Society, unknowingly inspiring a line for Forrest Gump's famous run on the silver screen. "I just put one foot in front of the other," it goes. "When I get tired, I sleep. When I get hungry, I eat. When I have to go to the bathroom, I go."
Forrest and Dan's Shrimp Emporium, "Bubba Gump," is now a themed restaurant in thirty-three locations around the world in the U.S., Japan, China, Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and the U.K. There is one at the entrance to the Universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida, at the Anaheim Gardenwalk in walking distance from Disneyland Park (TM) in Anaheim, California in the Los Angeles area, at Pleasure Pier in Galveston, Cannery Row, Texas, City Market in Charleston South Carolina, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois and downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The park bench that Tom Hanks sat on for much of the movie was located in historic Savannah, Georgia, at Chippewa Square. The fiberglass bench he sat on, since then, has been removed and placed into a museum to avoid being destroyed by bad weather, or possibly stolen. The church where the feather first falls was about 100 yards just down the street from the bench. To this day, the bench is held in the Savannah History Museum, Savannah, Georgia.
The actor who plays the reporter on the scene when Tom Hanks visits Washington, D.C. 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 he was asked to read.
Robin Wright was sick with a cold while shooting the nightclub scene. In spite of this, she was still able to perform her own singing during a non-stop twenty-four hour shoot in which she was nearly nude, except for her guitar covering her.
David Alan Grier, Ice Cube, and Dave Chappelle turned down the role of Bubba. Ice Cube refused to play an idiot and Chappelle thought the movie would bomb. Chappelle had since admitted to deeply regretting not taking the role.
Forrest 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 November 19, 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson for his actions in Vietnam a year earlier. Tom Hanks' head was superimposed on Davis' body.
Warner Bros. gave up the rights to this film in 1988 in exchange for the rights to Executive Decision (1996), because the studio felt that the project had lost its commercial promise in the wake of Rain Man (1988).
Inspired by Lieutenant Dan Taylor, the military veteran character he played in this movie, Gary Sinise co-founded a rock and roll cover band during the mid-2000s called "The Lt. Dan Band." The band often goes on U.S.O. tours to play for U.S. military personnel stationed around the world, and also plays various benefits for veteran-related causes.
All of the boat scenes, including the hurricane scene, were shot on location in the waters off the coast of South Carolina. A jet engine was used to generate the hurricane winds. The still/news reel shots of the trawlers on land are news shots of the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina 1989.
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). Although Hanks has since reconsidered his stance on sequels/prequels (Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010), Angels & Demons (2009)), a sequel remained in "development hell" for years. As of 2010, Gump & Co. is in development.
Robert Zemeckis decided to leave out several planned effects shots. One shot in particular involved Forrest running into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his supporters. Forrest distracts several dogs trying to attack King and his supporters by playing fetch with them and rendering them harmless to King and himself as well as his supporters.
In the narrative, Forrest went running across the United States for over three years, and later realizing why he went running, because of Jenny walking out on him whilst he was asleep, and the troubles of his past. This was based on the fact that people with autism can be known for absconding (running away).
Following the success of the movie, Winston Groom wrote a sequel novel, 'Gump & Co.' (1995), which referenced the movie as if it had been released in Forrest's world (he mentions that the movie was an inaccurate telling of his life - and brought him unwanted press attention). Forrest also meets Tom Hanks in the novel.
When Jenny is throwing stones at the house where she grew up, she suddenly collapses onto the ground in front of the house. The image of Jenny on the ground is almost identical to that captured in the famous Andrew Wyeth painting, Christina's World.
Five benches were made for the film. After filming ended, one went to the City of Savannah, one went to the Smithsonian, two went to Paramount Pictures, and one went to a security guard who was on patrol while filming. Many offers have been made to buy the bench, the largest being half a million dollars, although he has turned them all down.
One of three movies - the other two being Apollo 13 (1995) and The Green Mile (1999) - in which Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise appear together. All three movies were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, but only Forrest Gump won in the category.
When Forrest is pushing Lieutenant Dan in his wheelchair across the street in New York City, the song playing in the background is "Everybody's Talking" by Harry Nilsson, and Lieutenant Dan exclaims to a cab driver, "I'm walking here, I'm walking here!" This is an obvious homage to a scene in Midnight Cowboy (1969) with the same line and music.
Gary Sinise's character tells Tom Hanks's character that the day Forrest works on a shrimp boat is the day he'd be 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). Gary Sinise is also the commander/narrator of the ride "Mission: Space in Epcot" in Walt Disney World, and also starred as an astronaut in Mission to Mars (2000). Mission To Mars also happened to be the title of attractions at Disneyland(TM) Park's Tomorrowland in California and The Magic Kingdom in Florida. They closed on November 2, 1992 and October 4, 1993, respectively.
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.
The Dr. Pepper scene was shot a total of seven times. Each time Tom gave forth louder to loudest and unusually loud burps, to which Zemekis comments to Hanks, and Hanks responds with, " "Bob, just be glad they aren't coming out the other end."
Robert Zemeckis used the paintings of Norman Rockwell as the design inspiration for the town of Greenbow, Alabama. The scene where Forrest sits in the hallway of his school while his mother talks to the principal is a direct re-creation of Rockwell's painting "Girl with a Black Eye".
The disco and strip scenes were shot in the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, California, as was the 1968 archive footage of Robert F. Kennedy, after he won the California Primary. RFK was reportedly gunned down by Sirhan Sirhan in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel just a few minutes later.
The Doors have more songs in the movie than any other band with a total of six. These are, "Soul Kitchen" (in one of the Vietnam scenes), "Hello, I Love You" (first song in Gump's first ping pong sequence), "People Are Strange" (second song in Gump's first ping pong sequence), "Break On Through" (third song in Gump's first ping pong sequence), "Peace Frog" (during a New York City scene with Lieutenant Dan) and "Love Her Madly" (when Jenny is leaving her abusive boy friend).
The scene where Forrest spots Jenny at a peace rally at the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., required visual effects to create the large crowd of people. Over two days of filming, approximately 1,500 extras were used. At each successive 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.
Contrary to popular belief, the feather was not entirely CGI. The effects team digitized film of a real feather blowing and twisting in front of a blue-screen. This was then edited into segments, which the computer could link and morph together, allowing the "virtual" feather to move however the filmmakers needed. Thus, there was a real feather, but its performance in the movie was computer-based. This is demonstrated in the DVD supplementals.
The outside shots of Forrest and Jenny, when she was at the strip club, were done at Love's Catfish House on U.S. Highway 17 (Ogeechee Road) in Savannah, GA. Love's is actually a seafood restaurant. The bridge was the old roadway bridge that was demolished about a year after the movie was filmed.
To create the effect of Forrest carrying Bubba away from a napalm attack, stunt actors were initially used for compositing purposes. Then, Tom Hanks and Mykelti Williamson were filmed, with Williamson supported by a cable wire as Hanks ran with him. The explosion was then filmed, and the actors were digitally added to appear just in front of the explosions. The jet fighters and napalm canisters were also added by CGI.
If Forrest "ran three years, two months, fourteen days and sixteen hours" and left his front porch early in the morning of Monday, July 5th, 1976 because he "felt like running", his entire transcontinental running marathon commenced on Monday, July 5th, 1976 at 7:00 AM EDT (approximately) in Greenbow, Alabama and terminated 1,171 days later (167 weeks and 2 days), on Wednesday, September 19th, 1979 at 8:00 PM MDT (approximately) in Monument Valley, Utah.
The first person Forrest Gump speaks to in the film has similarities with Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks. She is a working-class African American woman riding a public bus in Alabama. She even mentions to Forrest that her "feet hurt", a statement widely believed to have been uttered by Ms. Parks when she refused give up her seat for a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery in December 1955. Her act of defiance and subsequent arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a movement that set in motion the fight for equality in the South led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Years later, Rosa Parks denied telling the bus driver she was tired or that her feet hurt declaring, "the only tired I was, was tired of giving in".
Magician Ricky Jay designed a special wheelchair for Gary Sinise that used an illusion to hide his legs, which were on a hidden platform underneath. The contortion required to sit in it meant that Sinise could only be in it for about ten minutes at a time.
When Forrest, Jr. goes to get on the school bus at the end of the movie, he is wearing a blue and white plaid shirt, similar to Forrest, Sr. throughout the movie, at the beginning of each chapter of his life.
Gary Sinise later started a band called the Lieutenant Dan Band, with the proceeds from the band's performances going to charity. He also stars in a series of ads as Lieutenant Dan supporting suicide hotlines for veterans.
In the movie there are three actors/actresses who play multiple roles. Gary Sinise plays Lieutenant Dan as well as all of his ancestors. Mykelti Williamson plays Benjamin Beaufort "Bubba" Blue, as well as the waiter opening Dr. Pepper bottles, in the scene where Forrest meets JFK as an All-American. Sally Field plays Forrest's momma, as well as a male reporter during Forrest's run across America.
The vintage microphones, into which Forrest speaks while in Washington, D.C., and the sound rig, of which the uniformed man pulls cables out, were all provided by Brandywine Electronics, LTD (now known as BEL.com), and are still on display in its offices in New Castle, Delaware.
In Vietnam, Forrest was assigned to 4th Platoon (Lieutenant Dan welcomes him and Bubba), Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment (as seen in the wooden sign by the tent), 9th Infantry Division (shoulder patch).
Gary Sinise plays the commanding officer of Tom Hanks and Mykelti Williamson, though in later projects, that role is reversed. Hanks played Sinise's mission commander in Apollo 13 (1995), while Williamson appeared in several episodes of CSI: NY (2004) as Sinise's superior officer in the NYPD.
In the opening shot of the film, the feather floats down over Madison Square in Savannah, Georgia. It then floats up to the sky where there is a dissolve, barely visible, and then it sweeps down past the Protestant Church and then heads for Chippawa Square, about half a mile away from the first square (although we are left to believe it's the same square).
Bruce Springsteen ripped the movie in his song "My Best Was Never Good Enough": "Now life's like a box of chocolates/You never know what you're gonna get/Stupid is as stupid does and all the rest of that shit."
The reference that Forrest uses about life being like a box of chocolates is not original, it was used slightly differently in the British film The Likely Lads in 1976 when the term used was the chocolate box of life.
Rush drummer Neil Peart has adapted the "Bubba Gump" name into his life and work, even if often not together. He calls his cooking alter-ego "Bubba", and his drum technician, Lorne Wheaton, is nicknamed "Gump".
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
It's not specified in the film, but in the sequel book "Gump & Co" the author mentions that Jenny dies from Hepatitis C, as a former drug addict in the 70s. Hepatitis C was an unknown disease until 1989. She says in the movie, that the doctors do not know what the virus is, and that they can do nothing about it.
Attention to detail: When Gump calls to report the Watergate burglary, the security guard answering the phone says, "Security, Frank Wills." He was the actual guard on duty during that night, and he was the person who discovered the break-in, on Saturday, June 17th, 1972.