Robert Zemeckis made a few cuts to Forrest Gump that were probably for the best

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Eric Roth’s original script had a few quirks that would have made “Forrest Gump’s” special effects much more noticeable, which Hanks, Zemeckis and Roth discussed during a panel at USC in 2009 (via Cheat Sheet). It had Forrest interact with an animated monkey, perhaps nodding to the incident in Winston Groom’s novel where our hero becomes an astronaut and goes to space with an unruly primate. Lt. Dan and Jenny also had animated extras, with Dan followed by a black cloud above his head, and Jenny adorned with a pair of angel wings.

How would that have worked? It depends on the animation technique used, but the last two would have been pretty straightforward, even with the CGI of the time. A few years later, “Twister” offered us weather effects that were still quite convincing, which could have taken care of the cloud.

As for Forrest’s chimpanzee sidekick, perhaps we can glean some clues as to how it might have happened from the noisy gang of monkeys in “Jumanji,” which didn’t look particularly realistic, even at the time. If Zemeckis, who had a brilliant form combining real actors with cartoon characters in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” in 1988, had he gone the more traditional animated route, he might have succeeded. According to Zemeckis on the panel, he suspected the work on “Roger Rabbit” was why the producers wanted him in the first place. Zemeckis recalled:

“Forrest always had Curious George as a talking ape talking to him…I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I always felt that because I did ‘Roger Rabbit’, it That’s how they sent me the script because they said, ‘get the guy who can do cartoons and humans together.’ The first thing I said was, ‘I’m going to do this, but all this cartoon stuff needs to go.'”

It was a wise move by Zemeckis, as the inclusion of a talking chimp may have irreparably broken the spell of the otherwise understated special effects, not to mention making the film’s emotional core that much clunkier. Less was definitely more for this ever-popular classic, and Curious George still stuck in the final film as Forrest’s favorite book.

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