Tom Hanks Made Millions With Genius Decision When Agreeing To Play Forrest Gump

Joe Harker

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Tom Hanks Made Millions With Genius Decision When Agreeing To Play Forrest Gump

Featured Image Credit: Independent Photo Agency Srl/Alamy Stock Photo/Paramount

Tom Hanks made a genius decision when he was cast as Forrest Gump that earned him millions.

We all know Forrest Gump, that iconic movie about a man who somehow finds himself present at some of the most important historical events of the back half of the 20th century.

While it's hard to imagine anyone but Tom Hanks playing the lead role, lots of other actors were approached to play Forrest before he was.

Book author Winston Groom imagined John Goodman would be the best fit as Forrest, while director Robert Zemeckis thought Harry Anderson should get it, but he was busy with another role.

The job was offered to John Travolta, Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, but they all turned it down and so Hanks got the job, though he got the filmmakers to agree to present history as accurately as possible.

Tom Hanks made a better financial decision than Lt Dan investing Forrest Gump's money into Apple. Credit: AJ Pics/Alamy Stock Photo
Tom Hanks made a better financial decision than Lt Dan investing Forrest Gump's money into Apple. Credit: AJ Pics/Alamy Stock Photo

Something else he did – and this is the genius decision we're talking about – is agree a contract where he got to take a percentage of the box office take rather than just get paid a standard salary.

This turned out to be an incredibly smart move from Hanks as Forrest Gump turned out to be a box office hit, and according to Insider it got him upwards of $60 million for that one role.

By their reckoning that makes his star turn, for which he won a Best Actor Oscar, the ninth best paid movie role of all time, though still some way off Will Smith making $100 million for Men In Black 3.

We really can't begrudge Hanks making millions out of the success of Forrest Gump, especially when he stumped up his own cash to get certain scenes filmed.

It turns out that the studio didn't want to have the scenes where Forrest starts running across America for years in the movie as they were considered too expensive.

Hank and director Zemeckis fought to keep the scenes in the movie, paying the filming costs out of their own pocket to get it done.

The actor and director duo also put money towards insurance for another scene which was so costly due to the weather, though Hanks hasn't said which scene in the movie it is.

Tom Hanks wasn't actually first choice to play Forrest Gump, with John Goodman and John Travolta considered ahead of him. Credit: Maximum Film/Alamy Stock Photo
Tom Hanks wasn't actually first choice to play Forrest Gump, with John Goodman and John Travolta considered ahead of him. Credit: Maximum Film/Alamy Stock Photo

It's always a bit of a risk for an actor to go for a percentage of the box office take instead of a salary as the rewards can be much higher, but a box office bomb will ruin those hopes.

Another famous example of this is Sir Alex Guinness securing a deal where he would be paid two percent of the earnings of Star Wars.

Movie bosses were so happy to agree this deal that they offered him another half percent, but when the movie came out and he asked to get his extra bonus in writing he found them very eager to talk about 'the extra quarter percent'.

Still, he couldn't grumble too much as according to the Hollywood Reporter it earned him about $95 million over the course of his life.

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Topics: Film & TV, Tom Hanks, Film and TV, Money

Joe Harker
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