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Written by Timothy Sexton
The author of the novel on which the film is based has said that John Goodman would have been perfect to play the role as he wrote it. John Travolta turned the role down as did two former members of the original Saturday Night Live cast: Bill Murray and Chevy Chase. Tom Hanks accepted the role almost immediately upon reading despite having doubts about being able to pull off the southern accent. Apparently, those concerns were unfounded as the role put Tom Hanks into that most exclusive of Academy Awards clubs, those who won back to back Oscars for acting in a leading role. Hanks joined legendary couple Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn when he collected his second trophy.
A few years earlier Sally Field and Tom Hanks starred together as struggling stand-up comedies who form a friendship. In that film, it is implied that Field is and Hanks are roughly the same age; certainly of the same generation. Field was cast as the mother of Forrest Gump despite being just ten years older than her co-star.
For his performance as Lt. Dan, Gary Sinise received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. More than two decades after the film’s release, the special effects used to make Sinise look as though he’d lost both legs is still considered one of the most effective and believable in film history, made so in part because of Sinise’s commitment to the discomfort required in pulling off the effects. At one point, Lt. Dan scornfully rejects Forrest’s plan to become a shrimp boat captain by telling him he’s got a better chance of becoming an astronaut. Coincidentally, just one year later Hanks and Sinise teamed up together against in Apollo 13 with both men playing astronauts.
Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue:
Rapper Ice Cub reportedly turned the role while Tupac Shakur was given an audition. After Dave Chappelle also turned it down, the part was offered to Mykelti Williamson. The enormous commercial success of the film meant that for many it was their first real introduction to Williamson as a memorable character, but in fact he had been working steadily mostly in episodic television for more than fifteen years.
Wright’s former husband, Sean Penn, has sometimes claimed that to be the producers’ second choice to play Forrest should Tom Hanks have turned it down. In order for Wright to win the role, she had to first wait for Oscar winners Jodie Foster and Nicole Kidman to take a pass. Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, and Demi Moore turned down the role of Jenny Curran. Apparently leaving the door open to go in a completely direction, Demi Moore was also considered.
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