The 'Forrest Gump' sequel that never was, from O.J. to Oklahoma City

Forrest Gump almost had another run on the big screen.

The 1994 Oscar-winning drama was directed by Robert Zemeckis and starred Tom Hanks as the eponymous Alabaman who changed history just about everywhere he went. Following the film’s blockbuster critical and commercial success, the movie’s brain trust planned to reunite for a sequel. In fact, screenwriter Eric Roth, who nabbed one of the film’s six Academy Awards for adapting Winston Groom’s novel, filed a completed draft on Sept. 10, 2001.

“Literally, I turned it in the day before 9/11,” Roth told Yahoo Entertainment in an interview (watch above). “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.’”

Forrest Gump was adapted from Groom’s 1986 novel of the same name. Groom wrote a sequel in 1995 called Gump & Co., which tracked Forrest’s adventures through the 1980s. Roth’s proposed film sequel would have been a much looser adaptation of that book.

In our interview, Roth shared new plot details for the movie that never happened, including a revelation that addresses the health status of Forrest Junior (Haley Joel Osment) after the death of his mother, Jenny (Robin Wright), who fell ill with a virus implied to be HIV/AIDS.

Haley Joel Osment and Tom Hanks in <em>Forrest Gump.</em> (Paramount)
Haley Joel Osment and Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump. (Paramount)

“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.”

And like Gump seemingly Quantum Leaped his way from one seminal event to another through the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Forrest Gump 2 would’ve followed him through real-life events of the 1990s.

“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 last detail Roth shared helps explain why the film was scrapped after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

“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.”

Look for our full interview with Eric Roth when Forrest Gump turns 25 this July.

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