We all know the phrase: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” Tom Hanks passes it to a stranger who joined him on a park bench in his Oscar-winning “Forrest Gump” directed by Robert Zemeckis. Somewhere there is even a DVD version of the movie “Box of Chocolates”. And while that scene became legendary and perhaps one of the most famous moments in Hanks’ storied career, he didn’t really think the park bench scenes in “Forrest Gump” were anything to go by, and asked Zemeckis if anyone was going to take care of them.
Tom Hanks has seen more behind-the-scenes elements of filmmaking than most people will ever see, so when he talks about the filmmaking process, it’s wise to stop and listen. An Elvis colleague was recently in Memphis to promote Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming musical biopic, and sat down with the official CinemaBlend ReelBlend podcast to discuss the new film and his career. It was during this conversation that Hanks said that he shot moments out of turn and never knew how they would play in the final film. He mentioned the movie “Forrest Gump”, which he reportedly saved, and clarified:
I’ll tell you that in Forrest Gump, everything we shot on a park bench in Savannah, Georgia, we just shot for interim ads. We were just shooting fodder for a possible plot. And I told Bob (Zemeckis): “Will anyone take care of this psycho sitting on (the bench)?” What is it? I mean, no one knows what’s in this (box)…” And in the end we shot probably 13 pages of dialogue, which we had to shoot in a day and a half. So it was written on the hint cards. (And) After a while, I didn’t need the clue cards because you delve into them. But Bob says, “I don’t know, it’s a minefield, Tom, it’s a minefield. You never know what people will take away from him!”
“Forrest Gump” is an extensive narrative that covers a lot, from the character’s childhood in Alabama in the 1950s to today… when Forrest is sitting on a park bench. Hanks probably knew the huge amount of footage they were shooting for the historical journey his protagonist was embarking on, and wondered how these seemingly out-of-rhythm scenes on a park bench related to a broader story. But how does he keep explaining ReelBlend:
There is a moment when, I think, an actor acting in a movie understands that you need to forget about everything. You have to forget about all the distractions of what is happening, because these are really frames. This is a real-time moment captured in real time. That’s 13 seconds or two minutes of a scene. And it’s not just slate, say it, cut it, act. You actually have to be there somehow… you don’t want to blow your horn, but it has to be, it has to carry with it in this scene every moment of the theme of the movie. He has to represent it. And if you can’t go there, you’re screwed, man. You’re drunk. And so you have to forget about all this and just try to get there.
You will find out how far Tom Hanks has gone playing Colonel Tom Parker in the upcoming biopic about Elvis, which was highly praised by the Presley family (the best review this film could get). You may not like Tom Hanks in this movie, as Tom Parker is an evil man who manipulates Elvis (Austin Butler) at every turn. You should see for yourself how good Austin Butler looks in this role, as the film is released in theaters from June 24.