Despite facing fierce competition in a year marked by classic movies, Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump clinched six Academy Awards. The film earned prestigious wins in categories such as Best Picture, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Eric Roth. Hanks’ portrayal received critical acclaim for perfectly balancing the character between comedy and sadness.
Surprisingly, many might not know that the Saving Private Ryan actor was not the first choice for the role. Several actors, including Hanks’ rival at the Oscars that year, John Travolta, were considered for the role.
John Travolta became hugely popular in the 1970s, with his roles in films like Grease and Saturday Night Fever. But his career graph declined with some less favorable film choices in the 1980s. The role of Forrest Gump came to him at his most desperate time, but he decided to turn it down. The reason—his commitment to Pulp Fiction. The role was not exactly a loss for Travolta as the Quentin Tarantino movie gave the much-needed boost to his career.
He admitted in an MTV interview that his role, as Vincent Vega was equally interesting as Forrest Gump. Travolta shared, “If I didn’t do something Tom Hanks did, then I did something else that was equally interesting or fun.” While he lost the Best Actor Oscar to Tom Hanks in 1995, Pulp Fiction has stood the test of time better than Forrest Gump.
Bill Murray came close to an Oscar for his role in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. However, a few years before that role, Murray was offered the role of Forrest Gump. Having done some amazing work on films like Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters, Murray could have delivered a compelling portrayal. In a 2014 appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Murray revealed that he “did have Forrest Gump conversations.”
Murray seriously considered the role, even conducting research with the original book. He shared, “I think I had the original book and all that sort of stuff.” The Rushmore actor admitted that he never managed to watch Forrest Gump. He also revealed missing out on a chance to collaborate with Tom Hanks in the latter’s other Oscar-winning film, Philadelphia. Murray was almost cast in the role of Joe Miller, played by Denzel Washington in the film.
Chevy Chase proved his talent as a comedian in projects like National Lampoon’s Vacation and Three Amigos. He had the opportunity to alter his career trajectory with Forrest Gump. In a 2012 interview with Huffington Post, the Community actor addressed his lost roles, including Forrest Gump, American Gigolo, Ghostbusters, and Animal House.
He was pretty disappointed, not because the roles were exceptional, but because they made a lot of money. Chase shared, “So all those I regret only because they made huge amounts of money and I would be very wealthy.” It is interesting that the filmmakers approached both Bill Murray and Chevy Chase for the Forrest Gump role considering their rivalry. Murray and Chase famously got into a fistfight on the sets of SNL.