Tom Hanks Reflects On ‘Forrest Gump’s’ Success, Calling It An ‘Absolute Crapshoot’

Tom Hanks speaks onstage during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 10th annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 18, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Box office smash Forrest Gump turns 25-years-old this weekend, but it doesn’t feel that way to actor Tom Hanks, who brought to life the incredible character of the simple-minded and good-hearted Forrest.

The film might evoke a sense of nostalgia for many people, but the Saving Private Ryan star said in an interview with USA Today that, for him, the feeling has never gone away.

The film, which became a cultural phenomenon, won six Oscars, which included Best Actor for Hanks. While it is easy to see why the film was so popular now, it wasn’t as clear to those involved in making the movie some 25 years ago.

“It was an absolute crapshoot,” Hanks said.

“It’s a really crazy, unique motion picture without a doubt. And it’s a movie in which the great moments that resonate are going to change depending on when you’re watching it.”

The film struggled a bit with some initial conflicts. For example, Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis reportedly argued with Paramount Pictures about the cost of Forrest’s cross-country run and reportedly paid for it themselves.

Then there was the matter of the name of the film, with the larger question of whether it was politically correct to name the film Forrest Gump because Forrest was reportedly named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the KKK, and “gump” is another word for a stupid person.

The bus-stop scenes that included pages and pages of dialogue also had Hanks a bit worried, and he asked Zemeckis, “Is anybody going to (care) about this?”

Hanks said Zemeckis was always open to hearing his point of view.

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“He said, ‘I can’t have the director and the star of the film not be soulmates. You need to tell me anything and I need to feel comfortable telling you anything. And if that’s the case, I will open up every frame of this movie to you.'”

It was that kind of dialogue that allowed Hanks and Zemeckis to create a heart-warming film that would speak to future generations.

Hanks said that the scenes from the film that “really broke” him were the ones that showed Forrest in Vietnam and his friendship with Lieutenant Dan.

“If you land on it, depending on what’s happening right now, you’ll kind of go, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize this was such a ‘boing’ moment the first time I saw it,'” the Sleepless in Seattle star said.