‘Forrest Gump’: What Tom Hanks Actually Said When His Mic Was Unplugged at the Lincoln Memorial

When Forrest Gump was released in 1994, few people realized what an impact it would have on people. In the movie, Forrest (played by Tom Hanks) wandered his way through several huge cultural events, unwittingly bringing change. One of those events was when he accidentally gave a speech at a huge protest. But because of some interference in the event, what he said couldn’t be heard in the movie. Viewers have wondered for decades what exactly Forrest had to say in that speech. 

‘Forrest Gump’: An unexpected war protest

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner

Mental Floss reports that one of the scenes Forrest stumbled into was a Vietnam War protest. He believed he was sightseeing in Washington DC after receiving a medal for his heroic action in the war. But instead of taking in the views, he was pushed into a line to speak to a huge crowd gathered around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

As he stepped up to the microphones to speak, a high-ranking military officer slipped up to the stage. Intent on stopping the protest, he unplugged the microphones from the speakers. 

The protest organizers scrambled to replace the plugs while Forrest spoke, his words unintelligible over the noise of the crowd. When the final plug was returned and the microphones came back to life, the final words of his speech could be heard: “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Whatever he said moved Abbie Hoffman to tears. But viewers didn’t get a chance to hear it. 

What Forrest Gump said

Hanks was asked about the missing speech, and he reported that Forrest’s speech was short and typically sweet. Apparently, he said, “Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don’t go home at all. That’s a bad thing. That’s all I have to say about that.”

It’s an indication of how deeply audiences reacted to this movie that even the microphones that were used in the protest speech scene are still considered special. According to IMDb, the vintage equipment was provided by Brandywine Electronics, LTD, a company that is now known as BEL.com. The microphones are still on display in their Delaware office to this day. 

Some details were almost quite different

As iconic as Forrest Gump is now, it’s hard to imagine it being made any other way. But there were a few details that almost looked entirely different from the movie we know today. 

According to Cinema Blend, director Robert Zemeckis tried to create a speech for Forrest to say at the Lincoln Memorial. He wanted something that was “way funnier and more important.” He contacted two of the best comedians of the day, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, to see if they could help write it. In the end, he was never able to come up with a speech that was what he wanted, so they went with Forrest’s unheard words.

Hanks almost sounded much different as well. He didn’t want to use such a heavy Southern accent, because he wasn’t comfortable with it. However, Zemeckis convinced him that it was important to the story. Hank modeled his accent after Michael Humphreys, who played young Forrest, so it would sound consistent throughout the movie. 

For almost three decades, Forrest Gump has been a favorite of movie lovers. Like any cultural milestone, there are always stories behind the stories we know. As Forrest might say, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

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