Tom Hanks Paid to Shoot Iconic ‘Forrest Gump’ Running Scenes Out of His Own Pocket

As unforgettable as Tom Hanks’ legendary running scenes in Forrest Gump are, they came close to never being filmed.

It’s hard to picture the classic film without Gump’s cross-country journey, but the cost of the scenes was initially too high. Luckily, Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis were able to pool their finances and pay for the scenes with their own money.

The studio couldn’t afford running scenes in ‘Forrest Gump’

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks | CRAIG SJODIN via Getty Images

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No matter what the movie is, production is never easy. Budgeting is often a major issue of the movie-making process, and Forrest Gump was no different. In fact, the budget was so tight that Forrest Gump’s famous running scenes almost never happened. 

Hanks revealed during an interview with Graham Bensinger that the studio was giving the Forrest Gump production team a hard time over the scenes.

“Well the studio just said ‘We can’t afford it, you’re not gonna do it’,” Hanks said. “And Bob said, ‘Yeah, there’s no movie—this—it’s too important a part of the movie just to cut. We can make this work’, and they said ‘No, you can’t.’ And it came around to me, and my crack agent said ‘Bob’s gonna come talk to you about what we called it, the run, about the run.’ And I said ‘Why’s he talking to me, he’s the boss. I’ll do whatever he says. This is above my pay grade.’”

The ‘Forrest Gump’ director asked Tom Hanks for help

Determined to make things work, Zemeckis paid Hanks a visit, suggesting they work together as partners to pull off the scenes. 

“And Bob came and he—we talked one night,” Hanks said. “He drove out and talked a night, I said ‘How you doing Bob’, and he said, ‘Look, I can’t do that, you are the only guy in the—you are Forrest Gump. You’re the title role in this, there is no movie without you playing him. I need you to be not an actor, not an employee, I need you to be my soulmate. I will open up the cuts and talk about every aspect of the post-production of this with you if you will be my collaborator and not just my employee.”

Tom Hanks and director agreed to pay for famous running sequence

Trying his best to be a team player, Hanks agreed to the partnership, not knowing what it entailed. However, the two then came to the decision to finance the running scenes on their, splitting the costs between each other.

“And I said ‘OK, deal. OK, let’s do that, now what?’”, Hanks continued. “He said, ‘Well, this run is going to cost X amount of dollars’, and it wasn’t cheap. And I said ‘OK’, and said ‘You and I are going to split that amount, and we’re going to give it back. OK, we’ll give you the money back, but your guys are going to have to share the profits a little bit more. Which the studio said, ‘Fabulous, great, OK. This is good for us too.’”

Once Hanks and Zemeckis agreed to split the costs of filming the running sequence, the rest was history. Forrest Gump went on to become a major box office and critical success, grossing over $683 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The movie also earned numerous accolades, including Academy Awards Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.