Forrest Gump is still regarded by many as a bonafide American classic even though it has its detractors who claim the film hasn’t aged well at all. Starring Tom Hanks in one of the definitive roles of his career, the film’s political subtext has been interpreted in different ways over the years but it continues to be an indispensable part of popular culture.
Hanks played the titular role, a man who had been diagnosed with a dangerously low IQ ever since he was a child. The film follows his adventures as he embarks on a grand odyssey of his own, encountering various historical figures and participating in important events. Despite all the chaos he runs into, he somehow maintains a steady moral compass.
Based on the novel by Winston Groom, many actors had been considered for the starring part including John Travolta who later regretted missing out on the opportunity. While Groom wanted the supremely talented John Goodman to play it, others such as Bill Murray, Sean Penn and Chevy Chase were also considered for the role before it eventually went to Hanks.
According to Hanks, he mastered the role in three days and it definitely seems to have been the perfect casting choice now. Incorporating elements from various genres such as war, romance, drama and comedy, Forrest Gump is a curious relic of the 1990s whose politics can be seen as counter-revolutionary by modern audiences but it is a product of its time.
The film ended up being a huge commercial success but it almost did not get made because the studio was unsure about certain directorial choices. In an interview, Hanks revealed that the whole project was jeopardised because Robert Zemeckis had a particular sequence planned and the studio was unwilling to accommodate it in the budget.
While recalling the entire incident, Hanks said: “The studio was one day away from pulling the plug on this one movie I was going to make, and the director came to my house and said, ‘Look, this is going to fall apart because they won’t give us the budget for shooting this one sequence, and we’ve got to have this sequence.”
In order to save the film, Zemeckis came up with a proposition for Hanks which required both of them to split the bill. The sequence in question was none other than the iconic segment which showed Forrest running across the country, chronicling an important development in his story as he learnt how to respond to the dangers of the world around him.
“I said, ‘All right.’ And the sequence was Forrest running across the country,” Hanks added, claiming that he agreed to pay for it because he wanted to get the project made. The actor also revealed that the studio was very close to shutting the whole thing down: “And we were 48 hours away from it being shut down. So I’m glad that worked out.”