Tom Hanks Paid Out of Pocket for ‘Forrest Gump’ Scenes and Made Back $65 Million in Return

The iconic scene of Gump running across America was funded by the actor and his director, Robert Zemeckis.
"Forrest Gump"
"Forrest Gump"
Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Robert Zemeckis’ “Forrest Gump” is a six-time Oscar winner (including trophies for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor) and $683 million grosser (the second biggest release of 1994 after “The Lion King”), but Paramount wasn’t so confident about the film’s success during production. During a new interview on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger,” Tom Hanks revealed that he paid out of pocket for at least two “Forrest Gump” scenes after the studio refused to put down the money itself and increase the budget. One of the scenes was Forrest’s iconic run across America.

“And [Zemeckis] said ‘Well, this run is going to cost X amount of dollars.’ And it wasn’t cheap. And I said ‘ok,’” Hanks recalled. “He said, ‘You and I are going to split that amount, and we’re going to give it back [to Paramount]. We’ll give you the money back, but you guys [Paramount] are going to have to share the profits a little bit more.’ Which the studio said ‘Fabulous, great. ok.’ And it was good for us, too.”

By working out a deal where Hanks and Zemeckis would pay for scenes in return for a larger percentage of the film’s box office gross, the collaborators struck gold as Hanks would go on to earn an estimated $65 million in profits from “Forrest Gump.” Hanks’ financial return for the film far exceeded Paramount’s $55 million production budget. Hanks was also awarded the Oscar for Best Actor.

During the interview, Hanks also admitted he struggled during the first days of filming with finding the Forrest Gump character. The actor remembered Zemeckis pulling him aside and telling him, “Look, I know what you are trying to do. I know how nervous you are and how self-conscious this can be before we get into the groove. But we’re not going to use any of these first three days because I don’t think you’ve got it. You haven’t got the character…Don’t try so hard.”

Hanks added, “And from that, everything settled down in a moment’s notice.” Listen to Hanks’ full appearance on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” in the video below.

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