Screenwriter Eric Roth says his sequel to the Tom Hanks Oscar magnet was scuppered by 9/11, but Forrest would be entirely at home in the Trump and Brexit era
‘You never know what you’re gonna get’ … Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump.
On paper, Forrest Gump, a film about a well-meaning man with a moderate intellectual impairment who falls in love with a woman who was sexually abused by her father as a child, is a hard sell. Nevertheless, it ended up winning six Oscars.
This is worth bringing up, because its screenwriter Eric Roth has been revealing everything that would have happened in the film’s aborted sequel and, well, it’s a much harder sell. Forrest Gump 2 would have been absolutely berserk, which means it would have probably won even more Oscars.
How berserk was it? Well, it would have put Gump in the back of OJ Simpson’s Ford Bronco. It would have featured Gump dancing with Princess Diana. It would have put him right in the middle of the 1995 Oklahoma City truck bombing. Oh, and you know Gump’s son? That sweetly adorable Haley Joel Osment character whom Gump meets right at the end? The film would have opened with him being diagnosed with Aids and losing all his friends. “We had a funny sequence where they were [desegregation] bussing in Florida at the same time, so people were angry about either the bussing, or [their] kids having to go to school with the kid who had Aids,” Roth told Yahoo.
The only reason Forrest Gump 2 didn’t get made, according to Roth, is that he handed in his completed script on 10 September 2001. The events of the following day, he says, rendered the script meaningless.
But, hey, Eric Roth, that was almost two decades ago now. Think of everything that has happened since then. We’re drowning in wildly inappropriate footage of real-life tragedies that no sensible person would ever think of shoehorning into a film. This is your wheelhouse. What I’m saying is this: the time is right for a Forrest Gump sequel.
Look, I’ll start you off. Netflix just bowed to public pressure and edited footage of the real-life 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster out of Bird Box, so this is your big chance to take that footage and digitally insert Forrest Gump into it. Maybe you could have him cause the accident in the first place. We could see him hanging his lunchbox on the train’s brakes and then pulling a funny face when he realises the scale of the heartbreak he’s been responsible for. That’d be a good opening scene, wouldn’t it?
Or let’s have him make friends with a woman who works on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, who he then accidentally kills by blowing it up. Or what about this: a scene in which Forrest accidentally fires a missile into the sky that takes out Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? Too disastery? That’s fine. We can have a scene of him meeting Michael Jackson, or Harvey Weinstein, or getting a walk-on role in House of Cards.
Some people look around and see only a world that’s burning; a world that has abandoned all pretence of civility and is locked tight into a shrieking hellride to total oblivion. But not you and me, Eric Roth. We’re different. We look at all this terrible trauma swirling around us, and all we see is opportunity. People have died and lives have been ruined, but what great raw material this is for a beat in a lightly dramatic comedy film about a man who runs fast and enjoys chocolate. Forrest Gump 2 100% deserves to happen.