Tom Hanks Had a Talking Monkey, and Other Things Cut From ‘Forrest Gump’
Forrest Gump may be one of the most improbable blockbusters ever made. Forrest (Tom Hanks) leads a charmed life stumbling into success and historical incidents, meeting several presidents along the way. If they had stuck to the original script, it might have been even more improbable.
Hanks, director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Eric Roth spoke at a panel at USC in 2009 about Forrest Gump. That panel is on the Forrest Gump Blu-ray, which is also available in the Paramount 10 Best Pictures collection. Here are some of the things they took out of the movie.
Tom Hanks would have talked to a monkey in a faithful ‘Forrest Gump’
Eric Roth adapted Winston Groom’s novel and made a lot of changes. Still, in Roth’s original script, Forrest had a simian companion, inspired by his love of the children’s book Curious George. Zemeckis nixed that idea.
“Forrest always had Curious George as a talking monkey talking to him,” Zemeckis said. “I don’t know if this is true or not, but I always had a feeling that because I did Roger Rabbit, that’s how come they sent me the script because they said, ‘Get the guy who can do the cartoons and the humans together.’ The first thing I said was, ‘I’ll do this but all this cartoon stuff has to go.’”
Forrest Gump’s friends had supernatural acoutrements too
Roth’s original take on the novel was more fantasy-oriented. Forrest Gump remains historical fiction, but Zemeckis steered it back to actual history rather than the world Roth constructed. Hanks wouldn’t have been the only character involved with animation.
“Lt. Dan [Gary Sinise] had over his head in the first draft a black cloud,” Roth said. “Jenny [Robin Wright] had angel wings. They may have been the worst ideas ever but Bob felt this is a bit much.”
Forrest Gump was in love with a murderer
Perhaps the biggest change from the script to the film was that Jenny killed her abusive father. Zemeckis actually filmed the scene with Hannah R. Hall as young Jenny.
“We had a scene where Jenny actually it’s implied that she kills her father as a little girl,” Zemeckis said. “The way I shot it, he was in the field. There was this weed harvester. He was in the field pulling this rock out of the ground. She was staring at the gearshift lever and the next thing you knew the thing was moving. So you never actually saw her pushing the lever forward.”
In a different bonus feature on the Blu-ray, producer Steve Starkey explains how the scene changed the audience’s perspective on Jenny.
“It’s always fascinating to discover what works on the page of a screenplay and what works on screen in cinema,” Starkey said. “Sometimes less is more. Sometimes audiences don’t need to see everything you thought they needed to see in a script. That kind of a graphic scene wasn’t really necessary in a movie like Forrest Gump.”
Roth understood Zemeckis’s explanation for taking out the scene.
“Bob always said, I think he was probably right in the long run, if she kills that man, as bad as that guy is, the audience will never recover from it,” Roth said. “They won’t ever let her off the hook.”