‘Forrest Gump’: how a scene shot as a resource and without confidence gave rise to one of the most iconic phrases in film history

The history of cinema —at least since the appearance of sound— can be summed up in iconic phrases. From the “Frankly, my dear, I don’t care about that” by Rhett Butler in ‘Gone with the Wind’ “Yippie Ki-Yay Motherfucker” of John McClane, going through the “You will need another bigger boat” of Chief Brody in ‘Jaws,’ the number of examples is almost endless.

If we focus on the last bars of the 20th century, one of the most famous lines of dialogue may be contained in that wonder titled ‘Forrest Gump’ Directed by Robert Zemeckis. In it, its protagonist, seated on a bench, reflects with a memorable “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”; a locution adopted by popular culture created between the doubts of the responsible team.

you never know what will work

According to Tom Hanks in the podcast CinemaBlendthe mythical phrase came out of nowhere while they filmed with great distrust the bank scene that ended up serving as glue for the plot of the feature film. But what was a simple resource filmed in a day and a half, ended up going down in history.

“I’ll tell you, on ‘Forrest Gump,’ everything we shot on the park bench in Savannah, Georgia, we shot as a resource for a possible narrative piece. I told Bob [Zemeckis], ‘Is anyone going to care about this moron sitting on a bench? What is this? Nobody knows what’s in this box…

We ended up shooting probably 13 pages of dialogue in a day and a half. It was written on signs. I didn’t need them after a while because you get into the matter. But Bob says, ‘I don’t know, it’s a minefield, Tom, a minefield. You never know what people are going to get!’ And that ended up being, you know… that thing.”

Of course, despite not having anything clear that the ticket in the bank was going to work, Hanks and Zemeckis they were clear that the film was successfulgoing so far as to pay out of his own pocket the cost of some scenes such as the one in which Forrest runs across America.

“[Robert Zemeckis] He said, ‘Well, this is going to cost us X dollars.’ And it wasn’t cheap. And I said, ‘OK’. He said, ‘You and I are going to split that amount, and we’re going to pay it back. [a Paramount]. We’ll give you your money back, but you’re going to have to share the profits a little bit more’, to which the studio responded ‘Fabulous, fantastic, OK’. And it was also positive for us.”

And boy was it positive. It is estimated that Tom Hanks pocketed about 65 million dollars only from its box office percentage thanks to facing these production costs. A round move for a resounding commercial and creative success.

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‘Forrest Gump’: how a scene shot as a resource and without confidence gave rise to one of the most iconic phrases in film history