'The Movies That Made Us': What We Learned About 'Forrest Gump'

Life on set of Forrest Gump was truly a box of chocolates, as the cast and crew never knew what problems they were going to face from one day to the next.

The now-iconic film was marred with delays and was even dropped by its production company in its early stages, but it was thanks to a dedicated few that Forrest's story finally made it to the silver screen.

In the latest season of The Movies That Made Us, which was released on Netflix on July 23, the secrets behind the Academy Award-winning film were revealed.

Newsweek has everything you need to know about how the film changed, how director Robert Zemeckis and star Tom Hanks saved it on multiple occasions, and more.

Forrest Gump's original script was very different to the film we know now

Forrest Gump is based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom, who went on to write the first version of the script for the film.

The story was markedly different from the one we know now, with Gump said to be a heavy-set man at 242 pounds, who was also 6'6" in height.

While many of his adventures, like how he made the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory, remained the same, there were countless others that didn't make it into the movie.

In the novel, and Groom's script adaptation of his book, Gump became a wrestler, went to space, and also worked with an orangutan.

In the documentary, it was revealed that the script was deemed "a mess" and it was left in a box at Warner Bros. as a result, where it was picked up by Kevin Jones a year later.

After it was picked up again, producer Wendy Finerman hired multiple writers to work on alternate versions of the script, with Eric Roth creating what would become the final draft.

Forrest Gump by Robert Zemeckis
Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump", directed by Robert Zemeckis. Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images

The film was dropped by production companies in its early stages

Warner Bros was originally signed on to make the film alongside producer Finerman, agreeing to work with her when she informed them she'd embark on a bidding war if they didn't let her be a part of the project.

The studio canceled its plans for Forrest Gump after the success of Rain Man in 1988, as they felt the "appetite" for a film of that nature had been filled.

However, when studio executive Jones moved jobs from Warner Bros to Paramount studios, the former offered him the chance to take the script with him.

When Sherry Lansing became the CEO of Paramount, Finerman was initially concerned that she would want to "clean house" and dispose of Forrest Gump, but Roth's script persuaded her it was worth keeping on.

A lot of Forrest Gump was filmed in one location

Surprisingly, while the film is set in Alabama, many of its key locations were actually filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Production designer Rick Carter revealed on the program that it was in Beaufort where he found the perfect spot for many of the film's locations, an alley leading to a plot of empty land that faced a river.

There had previously been a house on the plot that had been destroyed, so the crew decided to build Forrest's house there specifically for the film.

Part of the plot also served as the location for the family farm of Forrest's love Jenny, with a house also being built for the purpose of production.

But that wasn't all, as the crew also shot the scenes set in Vietnam during the war on the Beaufort plot, and they were able to use explosives as part of the special effects because the location was going to be made into a golf course after filming had ended.

'Forrest Gump' directed by Robert Zemeckis
Tom Hanks and Mykelti Williamson in "Forrest Gump", directed by Robert Zemeckis Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images

Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis saved the film from being shut down

Forrest Gump originally had a modest budget of $55 million, however before production could get underway Paramount studios decided to slash that by $10 million.

At the time, Lansing claimed the film was too expensive to make, and suggested that scenes set in Forrest's shrimp boat and during the Vietnam War were cut.

When Hanks and Zemeckis complained that she shouldn't try to make the changes, Lansing threatened to shut the movie down.

It was thanks to the director and actor contributing part of their fee to the production that this didn't happen, with both providing almost all of the $10 million that had been cut.

Hanks and Zemeckis' contribution allowed shooting to finally begin in August 1993.

The studio went on to suggest Forrest's running sequence be cut from the film as the shooting schedule was reaching its deadline. Zemeckis hired Hanks' brother Jim to be his double in all of the running scenes so they could shoot in multiple locations at once.

When the studio found out about Hanks' brother, there was just one scene left to film in Monument Valley, Arizona, but Paramount said they would not pay for the shoot so it was up to Zemeckis and Hanks to once again use their money to make it happen.

The duo provided a further $1.5 million out of their pocket so that the scene could be filmed as they had envisioned it.

The Movies That Made Us season 2 is now available to watch in full on Netflix.