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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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, and would eventually go on to play Tom Hanks' best friend in a different movie, You've Got Mail (1998)).
Forrest and Dan's Shrimp Emporium, "Bubba Gump," is now a themed restaurant in 33 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 Wyndham Ocean Walk Hotel in Daytona Beach, 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, Texas, Cannery Row in Monterey, California, City Market in Charleston South Carolina, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois and downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee, New Orleans, Louisiana, The Las Vegas Strip, Pier 39 in San Francisco, CA, Destin Florida, Lahaina in Maui, HI, and the Ala Moana mall in Honolulu, HI.
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. Sinise was awarded the Presidential Citizen Medal in 2008 for his charity efforts.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When Jenny is throwing her shoes and 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.
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".
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.
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 while 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).
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.
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 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).
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 four 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. Tom Hanks plays Forrest, of course, as well as the ancestor he was named after.
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. 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".
Apart from a fixed fee, author Winston Groom made a deal for a three percent share in the film's net profits. However, he never received money from this source. Even though the film turned in more than $350 million in revenue, the studio employed creative accounting by claiming that the movie had actually lost money after correcting for the costs of production and advertising. Groom unsuccessfully tried to sue the studio for money, but to appease him, they bought the rights to the sequel novel 'Gump & Co' from him for a seven-figure sum.
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 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).
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 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).
The famous quote that Forrest uses about life being like a box of chocolates is not completely original to the film or the adapted novel. It was used slightly differently in the British film The Likely Lads (1976) where the term used was 'the chocolate box of life'. The sentence in the movie is based on the very first sentence in the novel: "Let me say this: bein' an idiot is no box of chocolates".
Sonny Shroyer's character, credited as football coach was based on Legendary Universityof Alabama Head Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who was coach of the Crimson Tide when Forrest would have played at Alabama.
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."
It is never known what happened to Forrest's father. Robert Zemeckis intended for audiences to infer that Forrest's father abandoned him and his mother, and has not been in contact with them since. However, Forrest's mother didn't want to hurt Forrest with that cold truth and simply said that he was "on vacation".
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.
The virus that claims Jenny's life is not specified in the film. Director Robert Zemeckis never revealed what her affliction was, stating that it was irrelevant, and that he didn't even tell Robin Wright. Jenny says in the movie that the doctors do not know what the virus is, and that they can do nothing about it. This information, combined with the time period in which she got sick (early 80s), coincided with the HIV epidemic, so many people assumed Jenny died of AIDS. However, in the sequel book "Gump & Co" the author mentions that Jenny dies from Hepatitis C, contracted as a former drug addict in the 70s. Hepatitis C was an unknown disease until 1989. It was often fatal until effective treatments were developed during the 2000s.
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.
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.
When Forrest tells Lieutenant Dan he's gonna be a shrimp boat captain, Dan jokingly responds that's he's gonna be an astronaut. Later in the film at Forrest and Jenny's wedding, Lieutenant Dan arrives with prosthetic legs made of titanium alloy; the material in which space shuttles are made of.
Haley Joel Osment was 5 - 6 years old when he filmed his scenes as Forrest Jr. It is uncertain how old Forrest Jr. is in the movie. Forrest Jr. was conceived when Forrest and Jenny had sex which occurred on July 4th 1976 and Forrest receives Jenny's letter when Forrest watches the televised footage of Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt which took place on March 30th 1981. This means Forrest Jr. is 4-5 years old when he meets his father for the first time.
It is speculated that the unknown virus Jenny died from is HIV/Aids. In Tom Hank's previous film Philadelphia (1993) Tom Hanks played a homosexual lawyer whom is dismissed from a law firm when his former employers discover he is dying from Aids.