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Why The Famous Forrest Gump Running Scene Almost Didn't Happen

Released in 1994, "Forrest Gump" is one of the most famous motion pictures ever made. The movie, filled with historical references, won six Oscars (including best picture), and became an instant classic. It's difficult to find a person who hasn't at least heard of the Tom Hanks-led comedy-drama, with many of its scenes and bits of dialogue having permanently cemented themselves in our collective consciousness. Even those who haven't seen "Forrest Gump" are bound to be familiar with the iconic "life is like a box of chocolates" truism, or "run, Forrest, run," a phrase one might joyfully yell out upon seeing a friend of theirs in the middle of a morning jog. 

Interestingly, the iconic scene that gave rise to the latter catchphrase was almost entirely cut out of the movie. The sequence where Forrest runs across the United States was reportedly deemed too expensive to make by Paramount Pictures, and the producers were adamant about removing it from the script altogether. Seeing as it was an integral part of the film, director Robert Zemeckis wouldn't stand for it, and with Hanks' help, they were ultimately able to shoot it.  

Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks paid for the cross-country scene out of pocket

With Paramount unable to pay for the legendary running scene, Robert Zemeckis turned to Tom Hanks for help in covering its costs, and the men agreed to split the amount needed to film the seven-minute-long sequence, effectively funding it all by themselves. Hanks recalled the conversation with Zemeckis about that deal in a 2020 interview with Graham Bensinger. "He said, 'Well, this run is going to cost X amount of dollars,' and it wasn't cheap, he said 'you and I are going to split that amount.,'" the actor recalled.

The pair funded the run under the condition that Paramount would pay out a greater share of the film's profits to Hanks and Zemeckis. The studio agreed, and the rest is history. Seeing as "Forrest Gump" continued to make money for decades since it premiered, this agreement was part of the reason why playing Gump made Hanks a rich man

The scene where Forrest Gump leaves his home for a run and ends up running across the United States after realizing that Jenny (Robin Wright) left without a word the morning after sleeping with him, had a lasting impact on our modern culture. It also inspired some people to recreate Gump's feat, such as Rob Pope from Liverpool, who had done it in five stretches, ultimately completing the journey in 2018. He even went as far as to start his run in the same outfit and haircut as Forrest himself.