15John Travolta - Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump)

John Travolta and Tom Hanks + Forrest Gump

Who doesn’t love Forrest Gump? The 1994 classic weaved the story of a simple man through decades of American history, lovingly composed by Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis. Adapted from the 1986 novel of the same name, the film’s greatest pre-production

hurdle was in finding the right actor to portray Gump, a part that required zero pandering to fully work for the audience. The line between offensive and revelatory was paper thin, and Zemeckis would ultimately struck gold with the gung-ho performance of Tom Hanks. Contrary to popular opinion, however, Hanks was the director’s second choice, after being turned down by Danny Zuko himself, John Travolta.

This would’ve been a little weird. Travolta had yet to resurrect his career with Pulp Fiction (1994), which means Zemeckis was rolling the dice on a guy whose last film had him playing second fiddle to a baby. But the Look Who’s Talking (1989-93) series aside, there wasn’t much else to suggest Travolta could tackle such a delicately balanced performance. He later regretted giving the part to Hanks, though it turned out for the best, as both men nabbed acting noms in '95 (though it was Hanks who walked away with the win). Vincent Vega was better with milkshakes than boxes of chocolate, anyways.

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