‘Forrest Gump’: Tom Hanks’ Character Was Supposed to Be an Astronaut

Life is truly like a box of chocolates for Tom Hanks‘ Forrest Gump. While he never knew what he would get, he still took a chance and hit the ground running—literally. From joining the military to meeting famous faces, Forrest experienced more action in his life than anyone around him. Who else could have become a world-class ping-pong player in the blink of an eye?

But Forrest Gump left out several of the character’s original experiences. For starters, Forrest was supposed to work for NASA.

Tom Hanks peers into the crowd in a scene from Forrest Gump
Tom Hanks in ‘Forrest Gump’ | Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images

Is ‘Forrest Gump’ a true story?

As one of the most highly acclaimed films, it would be fascinating if Forrest Gump was based on a true story. After all, Forrest experiences several historical events. He serves in the Vietnam War, meets U.S. presidents, and unknowingly witnesses the Watergate scandal.

Nevertheless, Forrest Gump was not based on a true story. But it was based on Winston Groom’s novel. His Forrest Gump book is noticeably different from the movie.

The book focuses on Forrest’s experiences and less on his relationship with Jenny Curran. Yet, many movie fans adore the film’s love story.

Another significant difference is that the character possesses mathematical knowledge in the Forrest Gump book. The film doesn’t emphasize his academics.

Forrest Gump was supposed to be an astronaut, among other things

The Paramount Pictures movie also left out several major life events and careers. According to the Forrest Gump book, the character is a chess champion, a professional wrestler, and a NASA astronaut.

In the novel, Forrest becomes a NASA astronaut after playing the ping-pong championship in China. He landed the job because he was in trouble for participating in the Washington D.C. anti-war protest.

Not only that, but Forrest also works as a stuntman in Hollywood, whereas the movie only shows that Jenny was living there.

The film focuses on various points and figureheads in history. Viewers should recall the talk show scene with John Lennon; Forrest inspires the musician to write and produce “Imagine.” However, the novel doesn’t emphasize celebrities as much as the film does.

There is no ‘Forrest Gump 2’ because of 9/11

After Forrest Gump reached monumental success, director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Eric Roth explored sequel ideas. Even the novel’s author launched a sequel titled Gump & Co. This novel was reportedly going to be the basis of the second film.

However, Roth said the 9/11 attacks canceled out the sequel idea.

According to Slash Film, Roth acknowledged how 9/11 permanently changed the atmosphere. He ultimately discarded the sequel because of the storyline’s relevance.

“I turned in my version of the Forrest Gump sequel, or Part II, whatever you call it,” Roth recalled. “It’s a continuation, really—I want to start the movie literally two minutes after the end of the last one, with [Forrest] on the bus bench waiting for his son to get home from school. But I turned in the script the night before 9/11. And we sat down, Tom [Hanks] and Bob [Zemeckis] and I, looked at each other and said, ‘We don’t think this is relevant anymore. The world has changed.'”

While many fans were disappointed, some understood why Roth thinks “some things should just be one thing and left as they are.”

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