Forrest Gump (1994) is one of those movies that, regardless of how many times you’ve seen it, you feel touched and sentimental like you were watching it for the first time. In 2024, the film will celebrate its 30th anniversary, which is the perfect reason for us to share some pretty interesting trivia about it and its production.
Forrest Gump’s age and a blue plaid shirt
We’re starting off our list with a much more subtle feature that only eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed.
As the titular character ages throughout the film, things obviously change, but one part of him remains the same: he’s always wearing a blue plaid/checkered shirt in the first scene of that era of his life. What’s more, Forrest Gump Jr. is seen wearing a similar shirt in the movie’s ending scene.
Sally Field is only 10 years older than Tom Hanks
While Sally Field might portray Tom Hanks‘ mother in Forrest Gump, the reality is that the two actors are only 10 years apart in age! Field was born in 1946, while Hanks is a ’56 baby. It’s thanks to film makeup that she looks so much older than her on-screen son.
Norman Rockwell’s Girl with Black Eye
Painted in 1953, Girl with Black Eye is a Norman Rockwell painting that shows a young girl sitting outside of her principal’s office with, you guessed it, a black eye. What most might not be aware of is that this work of art received a nod in Forrest Gump.
The scene in question is when a young Gump sits in the hallway of his school while his mother talks to the principal.
Tom Hanks had a special connection with his running double
Forrest Gump features a lot of running, so it’s pretty understandable that Tom Hanks wasn’t the only one portraying the titular character in these scenes. To ensure audiences wouldn’t notice it wasn’t him, the production hired his brother, Jim, to serve as a stand-in – genius!
Speaking about his role as Hanks’ running double, Jim said, “Tom had other doubles, but they couldn’t do the run. That’s a stupid Hanks thing.”
Forrest Gump’s heavy Southern accent
Initially, Tom Hanks wanted to ease Forrest Gump’s pronounced Southern accent, but this changed when Michael Conner Humphreys was hired to portray the character’s younger self.
Humphreys landed the part largely because of his thick accent, and Hanks worked hard to make sure he emulated it perfectly.
Upon meeting Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue, Forrest Gump famously introduces himself by saying, “My name’s Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.”
While it’s easy to assume this was already in the script, as Bubba introduces himself with, “My given name is Benjamin Buford Blue, but people call me ‘Bubba’,” this line was actually ad-libbed by Tom Hanks! Director Robert Zemeckis liked it so much that he kept it in the film.
Tom Hanks’ daughter made a cameo in Forrest Gump
Jim Hanks wasn’t the only relative of Tom’s to appear in Forrest Gump – the actor’s own daughter made a cameo, as well. Elizabeth Hanks portrays the girl on the school bus who doesn’t let young Forrest sit next to her.
Drawing inspiration from Louis Michael Figueroa
Forrest Gump’s famous run was inspired by a real-life person – Louis Michael Figueroa, to be exact.
Figueroa was just 16 years old when, in 1982, he ran from New Jersey to San Francisco to raise money for the American Cancer Society and lift the spirits of a 10-year-old with the disease. He unknowingly inspired the line, “I just put one foot in front of the other. When I get tired, I sleep. When I get hungry, I eat. When I have to go to the bathroom, I go.”
The ping-pong ball was added with CGI
CGI is commonly used in modern films, and it was also used in Forrest Gump – in particular, during the ping-pong matches the titular character participates in. While it might seem cooler to believe Tom Hanks is some ping-pong wizard, the truth is he’s a good actor, miming that he was hitting the ball, which was added during the editing process.
John Goodman as Forrest Gump?
Forrest Gump netted Tom Hanks a lot of money
Forrest Gump was incredibly successful at the box office, earning $678.2 million at the box office.
Tom Hanks wasn’t paid a set salary for his portrayal of the titular character. Instead, he had a clause in his contract that ensured he got a slice of its earnings; he made it so that he received performance-based pay, meaning the better it did at the box office, the more he made. It’s reported he earned a whopping $40 million.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
Despite its origins being fictional, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is now a successful restaurant chain!
In 1995, Anthony Zolezzi purchased the rights from Paramount Pictures to rebrand the floundering Meridian Products. The first location opened in Monterey, California in 1996, and it’s since spawned many, many more. There are 22 in the United States, four in Mexico, three in Japan and one each in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Qatar, Canada and Indonesia.
Time to take a picture… With your eyes closed
A funny trait Tom Hanks gave Forrest Gump is that he closes his eyes every time a photo of him is taken. According to Hanks, the character tries so hard to stand up straight and “look normal” in photos that he forgets to keep his eyes open!
The next time you watch the film, take a look at the photos – you’ll notice this in each one.