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Is Forrest Gump Based On A True Story?

Robert Zemeckis' 1994 comedy-drama Forrest Gump is one of the more beloved movies out there, and the film that won six Academy Awards is no less poignant than it was back in the day. The story of Forrest Gump's (Tom Hanks) road from a bullied, leg brace-wearing young man in Greenbow, Alabama to a highly influential multi-millionaire offering people chocolate and wild (but true!) stories at a bus stop bench in Savannah, Georgia is one for the ages, and Hanks' immensely quotable and likable performance remains every bit as iconic as you remember. In fact, no less than 43% of people think that Forrest Gump is Hanks' best movie of all time – which is really saying something, considering the actor's truly staggering body of work.

The movie shows Forrest participating in a number of historic events, and interacting with a whole host of important figures, shown to the audience through the magic of archival footage. In fact, the story is so legendary and some of the scenes are so convincing that it's easy to start asking yourself: Is Forrest Gump based on a true story?

Forrest Gump is based on a book that's even stranger than the movie

As fun as it is to imagine that a kindly man with strong opinions about boxes of chocolate left his mark on virtually every aspect of U.S. history between the early 1950s and the mid-1990s, Forrest Gump unfortunately has no real-life counterpart. The smash-hit movie is actually based on Winston Groom's 1986 novel of the same name, which has a similar plot, but features a fairly different Forrest than the Tom Hanks one that everyone knows and loves. The book version of the character is a mathematical savant with borderline superhuman strength — and at 6'6" and over 240 pounds, he has the physical size to match his power. As such, Groom once told The New York Times that his personal first choice for the role was the imposing John Goodman. Yup, the guy from the cast of Roseanne was almost Forrest Gump. 

Book-Forrest also somehow manages to have even stranger adventures than the somewhat more family-friendly movie version. While he also plays ping-pong, goes to Vietnam, and sets up a shrimping business, the novel also gives him several peculiar mini-careers as an astronaut, a chess champion, a movie stuntman, and even a professional wrestler. While it's pretty understandable that the movie decided against taking Forrest to space — after all, Hanks went there the year after Forrest Gump came out in Apollo 13 – it would have been something to see Tom Hanks dominate a pro wrestling match.