‘Forrest Gump’ Screenwriter Reveals Why The 9/11 Attacks Caused Him To Trash His Fully Completed Sequel
There’s a scene in Happy Days where Fonz walks up to the mirror to comb his hair, takes one good look, and walks away because his lettuce is already perfect. Any revision would only serve to dilute the original product. This is what I’ve always loved about Forrest Gump. In a world where money-hungry studios give Paul Blart: Mall Cop a sequel, arguably the greatest movie of all-time remains singular, its integrity entirely intact.
Welp, today I learned that the 1994 Oscar-winning drama was slated to have a sequel written by Eric Roth, the same screenwriter who adapted Winston Groom’s 1986 novel of the same name to craft the original.
Roth, who’s also the mind behind Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and A Star Is Born, revealed to Yahoo Entertainment in an interview that he had written a completed draft for an encore to Forrest Gump and turned it in to the powers that be on September 10, 2001.
“Literally, I turned it in the day before 9/11. And Tom and I and Bob got together on 9/11 to sort of commiserate about how life was in America and how tragic it was. And we looked at each other and said, ‘This movie has no meaning anymore, in that sense.’”
The sequel would have been a loose adaptation of Groom’s 1995 novel, Gump & Co, which shadowed Gump and his son during the 80s. Roth revealed that a plot point in the movie would consist of Forrest Junior, played by Haley Joel Osment, struggling to live with the same health diagnosis that killed his mother, Jenny, in the original Forrest Gump.
“It was gonna start with his little boy having AIDS,” said Roth, who recently earned his fifth Oscar nomination for co-writing last year’s hit musical-drama remake A Star Is Born. “And people wouldn’t go to class with him in Florida. We had a funny sequence where they were [desegregation] busing in Florida at the same time, so people were angry about either the busing, or [their] kids having to go to school with the kid who had AIDS. So there was a big conflict.”
Roth also claimed that, much like the original, Gump would find himself in the middle of culturally formative events in the 90s.
“I had him in the back of O.J.’s Bronco,” Roth said of the infamous 1994 car chase involving O.J. Simpson. “He would look up occasionally, but they didn’t see him in the rearview mirror, and then he’d pop down.
“I had him as a ballroom dancer who was really good, he could do the [rotation] ballroom dancing. And then eventually, just as sort of a charity kind of thing, he danced with Princess Diana.”
The 73-year-old legendary screenwriter then clarified how the September 11th attacks deemed his sequel “meaningless” by calling attention to a particular potential storyline.
“He meets on a bus a Native American woman and finds his calling, as a bingo caller on a reservation. And the big event in that, which you could see was diminished only in tragedy, I guess, because it’s the same tragedy, but every day he’d go wait for his Native American partner. She taught nursery school at a government building in Oklahoma City. And he was sitting on the bench waiting for her to have lunch and all of a sudden the building behind him blows up. … So when 9/11 occurred … everything felt meaningless.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be the first one at the theater on opening day with a large popcorn and $9 Sno-Caps to watch the shit out of the Gump sequel, but a part of me that values the preservation of masterpieces is glad this movie never got off the ground.
[h/t Yahoo Entertainment]