Bill Murray turned down Forrest Gump's '$40m lead role' in cult classic movie

Lottie O'Neill September 22, 2022
Bill Murray turned down Forrest Gump's '$40m lead role' in cult classic movie
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

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Bill Murray missed out on playing Forrest Gump in the famous 1994 movie, he told Howard Stern – almost changing the direction of Tom Hanks‘ and his own career completely.

The Ghostbusters star came close to stealing the part from Hanks, who went on to scoop his first Best Actor for his part on playing the American hero.

There were also other Hollywood A-listers being considered for the part. Tom Hanks wasn’t the first choice for Forrest Gump, but got the role in the end, and rightly so.

Bill Murray was almost cast as Forrest Gump

Screenshot from Forrest Gump – Trailer Paramount YouTube channel

Murray admitted: “I did have conversations (about the role). I think I had the original book and all that sort of stuff”.

However, it never transpired into him portraying the lovable character who has an incredible life, writes Rolling Stone.

Murray also confessed he was a front runner to play the lawyer for another Hanks film, Philadelphia. But the part eventually went to Denzel Washington in the moving film.

Chevy Chase and John Travolta were also in the running – the likes of Forrest Gump as we know it could have had a different feel to it in an alternative universe.

Travolta instead worked on Pulp Fiction with Quentin Tarantino, a movie which cemented his name in cinematic history. But the Hairspray star later admitted passing on the role wasn’t necessarily a mistake, but it allowed him to do other roles.

He said: “If I didn’t do something Tom Hanks did, then I did something else that was equally interesting or fun… But I feel good about some I gave up because other careers were created.”

Forrest Gump was quite different in the movie

Screenshot from Forrest Gump – Trailer Paramount YouTube channel

The book, written by Winston Francis Groom Jr, is about a 300lb man, who leads a simple life but ends up being in the middle of some of history’s biggest and most important events. In some cases, he ends up creating them.

Because of the character’s size, execs also reportedly considered John Goodman for the role.

But they went down a different route with Hanks, and decided to alter Forrest’s appearance for the movie.

There are some plot lines in the book that never made it into the movie. For example, Forrest ends up going into space and also becomes a professional wrestler at one point.

The 1986 novel, adapted for the silver screen by Robert Zemeckis eight years later, became a cultural phenomenon. The flick also won six Academy Awards in total. It raked in $24 million on its opening weekend, $330m in the US and $1 billion worldwide.

According to Cheatsheet, Hanks was paid $40 million for the part.

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Lottie is the Head of Audience for Entertainment and Gaming, working with the teams on HITC, Reality Titbit, The Focus and Freshered. She is passionate about news being accessible to everyone, and focuses on bringing audiences quality content that they enjoy. She loves the art of storytelling, whether that be news, movies or heavy hardback fiction.