Making movies is a precarious thing. You often go over budget, you've got to find a way to get your hands on the money you need to finish production. That's the situation that Forrest Gump was in at Paramount. The movie needed some extra cash and Paramount would not open up the purse strings.
Speaking on In Depth With Graham Bensinger for an interview, Tom Hanks said that he and director Robert Zemeckis both paid for scenes to be shot in the movie when the studio would not cough up the money.
What scenes wouldn't the studio pay for? One of the scenes was the classic run across the country that Gump does in the middle of the film.
As a Gump fan, I can tell you this is one of the more fantastic parts of the movie. He invents the smiley face and "shit happens!"
Hanks expanded on the idea, saying, "And he said, 'Well, this run is going to cost X amount of dollars.' And it wasn't cheap. And I said, 'Okay.' He said, 'You and I are going to split that amount, and we're going to give it back [to Paramount]. We'll give you the money back, but you guys [Paramount] are going to have to share the profits a little bit more.' Which the studio said, 'Fabulous, great. Okay.' And it was good for us, too."
And then there was another instance when it happened, Hanks said, but he did not say which scene. "They said, 'The weather is such that we can't get the insurance coverage on it,' the studio said, 'So you guys can't shoot.' And Bob and I said, 'We'll cover the insurance.' And we did," Hanks recalled.
Did it pay off? Oh yes, it did.
Those decisions earned Hanks an estimated $65 million when the film became a blockbuster at the box office.
I love stories of actors believing in a project so much that they don't just do it for the money.
Part of this was just Hanks feeling like he owed something the project, too. He admitted that he was having so much trouble finding Forrest's voice and demeanor that the first days of production had to be scrapped.
"Bob said, 'Look, I know what you are trying to do. I know how nervous you are and how self-conscious this can be before we get into the groove. But 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.' And I said, 'I don't. I don't. You're right.' And he just said, 'Don't try so hard.' And from that, everything settled down in a moment's notice."
This is a really fun anecdote for a movie that really took the 90s by storm.
I know there are some cynics out there who don't love how this movie looks when examined against history or reality. But for me, I always think it's an optimistic look at what this country can be and who we can be if we just took the opportunity to help one another.
Let me know what you think in the comments.