Tom Hanks appeared on the CinemaBlend podcast and discussed some of his iconic roles including war movie Saving Private Ryan. Hanks confessed that he was not convinced that Forrest Gump’s framing device, in which he tells his story while sitting on a park bench with a box of chocolates, was going to work.
Hanks said (via IndieWire); “I will tell you, in Forrest Gump, all the stuff that we shot on the park bench in Savannah, Georgia, we were just shooting fodder for a possible narrative piece of it. And I said to Bob [Zemeckis, director], ‘Is anyone going to care about this nut sitting on a [bench]? What is this? No one knows what’s in this [box], I mean…'”
Hanks continued; “We ended up shooting, it was probably like, you know, 13 pages of dialogue that we had to shoot in a day and a half. And so it was written on cue cards. I didn’t need the cue cards after a while because you get into it. But Bob says, ‘I don’t know, it’s a minefield, Tom, it’s a minefield. You never know what people are gonna take away from it!’ And it ends up being, you know, that thing.”
Hanks also recalled that Zemeckis – who directed 80s movie classics Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit – had to ease his nerves, telling him to not be so “self-conscious” and just “get into the groove” of playing Forrest. “‘We’re not going to use any of these first three days because I don’t think you’ve got it. You haven’t got the character. Don’t try so hard.'”
Forrest Gump would go onto make nearly $680 million, and Hanks won Best Actor at the Oscars. Because Zemeckis and Hanks had contributed some of their own money to making the “run Forrest run” sequence across America happen, they got a healthy share of the profits too.
Check out our guide to the best 90s movies to see if Forrest Gump made the cut.