How Tom Hanks Saved Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is one of those movies that has become part of pop culture history. It won all the awards, has all the quotable lines, and it’s one of the films that turned Tom Hanks from the guy from Bosom Buddies into a bonafide movie star. It’s nearly unbelievable that there was a point at which the movie almost didn’t get made, but in order to make sure it was done, Hanks personally paid for half of one iconic sequence.

Yahoo Movies sat down with Hanks and Steven Spielberg to discuss their current film, Bridge of Spies, but over the course of the interview Hanks, delved into his history and reveals how closely Forrest Gump came to falling apart due to budget issued. He 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." Director Robert Zemeckis proposed that he and Hanks split the cost of shooting that sequence, so that the studio would allow them to make the film they envisioned. "I said, ‘All right.’ And the sequence was Forrest running across the country," Hanks revealed. "And we were 48 hours away from it being shut down. So I’m glad that worked out.

We’re going to set aside the fact that at the beginning of the statement the movie was "one day away" from falling apart, and at the end it was "48 hours away." It was close, the exact timing is less important. We’re forced to agree with Zemeckis that the sequence was integral to the film. Forrest finds himself alone at home. His mother has died and the woman he loves just left him. Not having any idea what to do with himself he focuses on the one thing he knows how to do, run. He runs across the country multiple times passing many noticeable landmarks. This was likely the source of the studio’s apprehension as far as cost. If you want to show Forrest on the Santa Monica Pier or running across a wheat field, you need to actually film there. The movie does a lot with CGI, but in 1994 it likely would not have been able to do that convincingly. Check out the run here:

Actually considering the CGI that the film used, and what it must have cost in the mid-1990’s, it seems a little out of sorts that the studio would be bent out of shape over the running scene. Filming on location, while it can be expensive, has always been part of movie making, while computer generated effects of the kind seen in Gump were a much newer thing. Usually it’s those expenses of things that the accountants try to kill.

On behalf of movie lovers everywhere, we’d like to thank Tom Hanks for his selfless service to his craft at helping to finance Forrest Gump from his own pocket. We really can’t image the movie without those scenes. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.