Was Forrest Gump A Real Person? (Explained)


Forrest Gump


Forrest Gump is one of Tom Hanks’ best-known films, coming out of a decade where Hanks had portrayed countless major roles.

Not only does this film serve as a fictional look at the many ages that American culture has gone through, but it also serves as a piece of nostalgia for those who grew up during the 1960s and 1970s.

Forrest Gump brings a unique perspective on what it means to be a classic American hero.


Was Forrest Gump A Real Person?

Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) wax figures in Madame Tussauds museum in Berlin, Germany


Yes, Forrest Gump was based on a real person named Sammy L Davis, who served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War.

Davis was originally known in his military unit for sharing a name with Rat Pack singer Sammy Davis, but he would later go on to be known as the real Forrest Gump well after his time in the military.

Sammy L. Davis first joined the military in 1965, immediately following his graduation from high school.

Although most of the recruits who were Davis’s age had been pulled into the military by the draft, Davis had volunteered to join the Army because he was inspired to be like his father who had served as an artilleryman during World War II.

Davis served in the 4th Artillery and was sent to Vietnam as soon as he had finished his training.

On November 18th, 1967, Private First Class Davis and his unit of 11 guns and 42 men were sent to Firebase Cudgel.

Problems quickly arose for Davis’s Battery C when they were attacked by mortar shortly after midnight the following day.

This attack was quickly followed by nearly 1,500 Vietnam ground soldiers who were shooting at them from the other side of a nearby river.

As the enemies inched closer and Davis’s crew tried their best to run away, Davis took over a machine gun and began providing cover fire to his crew.

Davis’s plan was working well until the machine gun was shot by a recoilless rifle, sending Davis and those helping him operate the machine gun flying into a foxhole.

Davis was eventually forced to retreat, but his retreat allowed him to find 3 wounded soldiers to whom he gave morphine.

He continued to offer cover fire until they were able to get away.


Was Lieutenant Dan A Real Person?

Israeli army combat soldier walking away from camera in desert


No, Lieutenant Dan wasn’t based on a real person, but the character has gone on to inspire plenty of military veterans and actor Gary Sinise himself.

Sinise based his performance as Lieutenant Dan on his experiences with his father and uncle who both served in the United States military.

Sinise grew up in a military family, but it took until his role as Lieutenant Dan for him to seriously consider the impact that military service had on his family members.

The actor’s father had originally served during the Korean War, where his job was to record top-secret footage of the battle zone, which later allowed him to work as a Hollywood editor.

Gary Sinise’s uncle had been stationed in Japan and gave 5-year-old Sinise one of his uniforms.

Sinise would wear his uncle’s uniform wherever his mother allowed him to, including when they’d go grocery shopping or on Halloween.

Young Sinise was so fond of his uncle’s uniform that he even wore it to bed and occasionally had the opportunity to wear it to school.

Despite the influence that his father and uncle had, it was Sinise’s experience on the set of Forrest Gump that allowed the actor to find a new purpose in his life.

From the moment that Forrest Gump was released, Gary Sinise knew that this film was unlike any film he had starred in previously.

Immediately, fans of different age groups were coming up to the actor and asking for his signature.

Only a few months after the film debuted, Sinise was invited to a Disabled American Veterans convention in Chicago where he discovered how much his character meant to the wounded veterans around the country.

Now, Gary Sinise is the frontman for the Lt. Dan Band, a cover band that performs for multiple military groups.


Why Did Forrest Gump Never Get The Planned Sequel?

Movie clapper and film reel on a wooden background


Forrest Gump never got the sequel that writer Eric Roth wrote a script for because neither Paramount nor Tom Hanks believed that the original film needed a sequel.

The film was set to be known as Forrest Gump 2 and featured a similar plot line to the first film.

Eric Roth’s script for the sequel film was set shortly after the original film and was going to further look into the story of Forrest Gump Jr.

Similar to how his father was seen as an outsider because of his disabilities, Gump Jr. was going to be treated like an outsider because he had contracted AIDS from his mother, Jenny.

Forrest Gump lightly touched on the beginning of the AIDS Crisis, but the sequel planned to discuss how those who had AIDS were nearly pushed out of society.

The other parents in the Gumps’ community were going to cause an uproar when they discovered that their children were being taught alongside a child with AIDS.

Similar to the original film, Forrest Gump was going to experience some of the biggest cultural moments throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

One of the first historical icons set to appear in the film was going to be the late Princess Diana.

Gump was going to become a champion ballroom dancer, allowing Gump to travel to Europe where he would eventually dance with Princess Diana.

Princess Diana was one of the first major advocates for those suffering from AIDS and completely changed how the public chose to interact with AIDS patients.

Forrest Gump was also going to be weaseling his way into the O.J. Simpson murder case.

He was going to be the one responsible for finding the bloody glove and was going to be in the back of Simpson’s White Bronco.


Who Was The First Choice For Forrest Gump?

Famous actor John Travolta


The first choices for the role of Forrest Gump were originally Bill Murray, John Travolta, and even Chevy Chase.

Although Tom Hanks wasn’t one of the original picks for the role, the movie may have never become a classic without Hanks in the role of Forrest Gump.

One of the first major actors to turn down the role of Forrest Gump was John Travolta, who had been a major star during the 1970s with hits such as Grease and Saturday Night Fever.

Travolta felt that his career needed another boost, which is why he considered taking on the role of Forrest Gump.

However, the Grease actor eventually decided to turn down the role to take on a different role.

Rather than appearing in Forrest Gump, John Travolta decided to give his acting career the much-needed recharge he was looking for through his role as Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Despite the massive success that came with Forrest Gump, Travolta doesn’t regret giving up his opportunity to play Forrest Gump because he is grateful for the influence that the role has had on not only Tom Hanks’ career, but many of the other Forrest Gump cast members’ careers as well.

Although John Travolta may not regret turning down his opportunity to play Forrest Gump, Chevy Chase believes it was a big mistake for him to choose to do Community over Forrest Gump.

Chase prefers performing in films over television due to the grueling hours.

According to an interview that Bill Murray did with Howard Stern, Murray had considered taking on the role of Forrest Gump for a brief moment.

He had read the original book and had conversations with filmmakers about taking on the role, but eventually decided against it to focus on other roles.


Who Was The First Choice For Bubba?

Actor David Alan Grier


The first choices for Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue were Dave Chappelle, Ice Cube, and David Alan Grier.

Although finding the right actor for the role took trial and error that was similar to the process of finding the right actor for Forrest Gump, the reasoning for why so many actors turned the role down was much more negative.

Comedian Dave Chappelle turned down the role of Bubba because he didn’t like the character’s name or the racially demeaning connotations that came with his name and role.

Chappelle felt that role wasn’t just going to be bad for his acting career but for his name in entertainment as a whole.

The next actor to turn down the role of Bubba was fellow actor and comedian David Alan Grier.

According to Grier, “if I’m going to be playing a mentally [disabled] person, I got to be the lead, I can’t be the mentally [disabled] sidekick.”

When the casting team reached out to Ice Cube, he gave similar reasoning to Grier and added that he felt that the role would be a stretch based on his history of playing the tough guy.

Although Chappelle and Grier have voiced their regret over not playing the role after Forrest Gump won multiple Oscars and became a box office hit, the role ended up being problematic for Mykelti Williamson, who went on to take on the role of Bubba.

When Bubba was first created as a character, he was originally going to serve as an older brother figure for Forrest Gump.

Bubba was originally going to be much smarter and snarkier, but the filmmakers felt that Bubba should be more an equal to Forrest Gump and share his heart of gold.

Williamson wanted his character to share a heartwarming bond with Hanks’ character.


Did Mykelti Williamson Wear A Fake Lip?

Close up image of guy lips


Yes, Mykelti Williamson wore a fake lower lip for his role as Bubba in Forrest Gump.

This prosthetic lower lip caused Williamson to have a lisp and noticeably changed the overall size of his lips to what some viewers considered to be a problematic size.

Mykelti Williamson claims that the role caused him to have a difficult time receiving new roles because people believed that Williamson genuinely had a lisp and a massive, lower lip.

Luckily, Williamson was able to break free from his role as Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue.

Similar to his co-star Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson grew up in a military family where his father served as an Air Force Staff Sergeant.

Williamson was first introduced to the world of theater by his mother when he was 9 years old, first appearing in a church play.

At the age of 15 years old, Williamson and his family moved to Los Angeles.

Although he was an excellent athlete throughout high school, Williamson decided to focus his attention on the performing arts by performing alongside the cheerleading squad.

One of Mykelti Williamson’s first roles was on Starsky and Hutch in 1975.

Prior to appearing in Forrest Gump, Williamson’s biggest films included Miracle Mile in 1988, The First Power in 1990, and Free Willy in 1993.

Shortly after his role in Forrest Gump, Williamson starred in Waiting to Exhale with Forest Whittaker, Heat with Al Pacino, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, and Con Air alongside Nicolas Cage.

Although Williamson believes that his role as Bubba is what slowed his career down, some critics of the actor point to attempted murder and stalking case from 1998 as the reason he dropped in popularity.

Williamson was acquitted of attempted murder charges but still had to pay a bail of $180,000.


What Was Forrest Gump’s Original Budget?

Cinema clapperboard on US dollars banknote bill background - Movie entertainment industry to make money concept


The original budget that Paramount was going to give the Forrest Gump filmmakers was going to be $55 million, but that number was slashed down by $10 million before filming could even begin.

Had it not been for Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis’ financial contributions, the original Forrest Gump may have lacked multiple crucial scenes.

Paramount CEO Sherry Lansing felt that Forrest Gump was too expensive for being a historical fiction film, originally suggesting that the scenes including the Vietnam War and Bubba’s fishing boat be cut down to make room for more less-expensive scenes.

Both Hanks and Zemeckis told the CEO that she shouldn’t be trying to make adjustments to the film, a response that caused Lansing to threaten to shut down production on Forrest Gump completely.

At the time, Paramount was struggling financially and the crew feared that Lansing would want to “clean house” and stop the production of Forrest Gump.

The majority of Forrest Gump was filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Although the production team was able to save money by filming a majority of their scenes on the same plot of land, having to build both Forrest and Jenny’s childhood homes ran up production costs.

To help get filming underway, Tom Hanks didn’t take a traditional salary for his role as the namesake character and even helped director Robert Zemeckis cover the $10 million that had previously been cut from their budget.

Hanks and Zemeckis would have to give another $1.5 million to the production of the film out of their pockets to film the scenes where Forrest is running across the United States.

Because they were nearing their deadline, Zemeckis hired Tom Hanks’ brother to allow filming across multiple locations at the same time.


Who Played Forrest Gump Jr.?

Haley Joel Osment at the AFI Fest premiere of' 'Beyond the Sea'


Haley Joel Osment was the child actor behind the role of Forrest Gump Jr., and the role was actually Osment’s first major role.

Only 5 years after working alongside Tom Hanks, Osment would go on to star in The Sixth Sense in 1999.

Although Osment was incredibly young at the time, Osment recalls Hanks being “a great first cinema dad.”

One of Haley Joel Osment’s fondest memories came from filming the final scene of Forrest Gump.

Director Robert Zemeckis decided to rewrite the lines that Osment was going to say and wrote the new lines on a piece of paper that Osment still has to this day.

According to Osment, Tom Hanks is just as kind as he seems.

Although it would have been interesting to see a slightly older Osment take on the role of Forrest Gump Jr. in the planned Forrest Gump sequel, it was better for the entire cast for Forrest Gump to remain a stand-alone film.

Had Osment been filming Forrest Gump 2, he may have never had the chance to play Cole Sear alongside Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense.


How Did Filmmakers Create The Scene With John Lennon?

Film industry. Filming with professional camera background


The filmmakers behind Forrest Gump were able to create the scene where Forrest Gump is interviewed with John Lennon by using computer-generated imagery.

The footage was originally taken from an interview that Lennon gave on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump was added to the scene by covering up Yoko Ono, who was the one who originally sat next to Lennon during the interview.

All the lines spoken by Lennon come from his song Imagine.

Going into the film, Hanks wanted Forrest Gump to be as historically accurate as possible.

During the early 1970s, Lennon played a major role in how many members of the public looked at topics such as war.

Despite their dedication to historical accuracy, the film is still plagued with a few major inaccuracies.

One of the biggest inaccuracies is the Statue of Liberty featuring the modern torch design back in 1976, a decade before the modern design was used.

Another historical slip-up was the fact that Jenny can be seen dancing to KC and The Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight in 1974 when the song wasn’t released until 1975.

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