If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching Forrest Gump, you know just how hard it is not to fall in love with the simpleminded, yet well-intentioned, character Tom Hanks portrays. Director Robert Zemeckis teamed up with screenwriter Eric Roth to weave an emotional drama with an element of comedy that the cast and crew executed perfectly.

But, did you know there was supposed to be a sequel to the Oscar-winning film? That’s right. Roth penned an entire second film because of the success of the first, and the details of the film, which are just now coming out, were definitely surprising. Still, the movie never saw daylight for one stunning reason.

Anyone who’s seen Forrest Gump remembers simpleminded Gump sitting patiently on the bus-stop bench, drumming up conversations. But that scene would’ve never made it to the big screen were it not for the film’s little-known source of inspiration.

A man named Winston Groom penned a novel, also called Forrest Gump, about a slow-witted Alabama boy in 1986, and eight years later, in 1994, the movie came out in theaters. But, it strayed from the novel in many ways.

For example, Gump’s thousand-mile run across the United States was something director Robert Zemeckis added in himself. Meanwhile, the film version left out Gump becoming a chess master and astronaut. Moviegoers, however, didn’t seem to mind the omissions.

Forrest Gump immediately became something of a box-office phenomenon after its release. It beat out top-spot The Lion King, and it also earned Hanks one of the most prestigious awards an actor can receive.

Not only did the film itself scoop up six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, but Hanks took home one of those shiny little statues himself for Best Actor. All the buzz over the movie led people to naturally wonder if a sequel was in order.

As it turned out, Winston Groom actually did write a sequel. Even today, many of the biggest Forrest Gump fans have no idea the book exists, as it was written nearly a decade after the first one.

Gump & Co. hit store shelves in 1995, and it basically followed Gump throughout the ’80s, focusing on all the events he not only witnessed but was personally involved with. It also opened with a very meta line that referenced the film.

“Don’t never let nobody make a movie of your life’s story,” the narrator says. “Whether they get it right or wrong, it don’t matter.” So now that the second book was out, it was time to write a much-anticipated screenplay to the sequel, right?

In 2001, writer Eric Roth was contacted to once again put his skills to the test and pump out another box-office hit. Roth knew he had to hit audiences with some bombshells if he wanted another memorable movie, so he wrote the film, and man, it was explosive.

When the screenwriter discussed the sequel in an interview, people were shocked to hear Forrest Jr. had AIDS. Roth also wrote Gump into one of the most memorable American moments from the ’90s.

In Gump 2, he was in the backseat of O.J. Simpson’s White Bronco while the ex-football player fled police. The material Roth used strayed away from the second book more than the first, but he knew Gump would once again enamor audiences.

With the screenplay written, Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks were both equally eager to crank out another smash hit. Little did all three men know, the movie would never see the light of day.

Roth handed the movie studio the final draft of his screenplay on September 10, 2001. That very next morning, before anyone even read a word of it, America suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history. All three men immediately met up to discuss how they’d handle everything.

All three came to a unanimous decision to squash the sequel entirely. America was currently going through its darkest days, so to try to stir enthusiasm up in moviegoers over a new movie felt meaningless. But still, chatter about the film never died.

In 2014, while celebrating Forrest Gump’s twentieth anniversary, Hanks and director Zemeckis both discussed what they pictured Gump doing were a new sequel ever released. Both men wanted him to be the inspiration behind the idea that launched Facebook, but they also each had their own ideas.

Zemeckis wanted Gump to lead the charge to find Osama Bin Laden, and Hanks wanted him to rescue people during Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like the character would ever hit the silver screen again — until something incredible happened.

Bollywood, the enormous movie industry in India, bought up the rights to the next Forrest Gump film from Paramount studios. However, this version wasn’t going to be what the American studio originally planned.

The Bollywood movie — set to film in October 2019 — is actually a remake of the original, not a sequel. Bollywood legend Aamir Khan was cast as Gump and stated in interviews how thrilled he was to bring the character to life in a different light.

So, maybe the Hollywood sequel to Forrest Gump will never hit theaters, but the fact an exciting film industry like Bollywood wants to take a stab at their own version is enough to leave any Gump fanatic with a smile on their face.

And who knows; maybe in a few years, talks for a true sequel will heat up again. Whether or not Tom Hanks would reprise the role is a different question, though. After all, he’s got a lot on his plate these days.

See, Tom Hanks is the special kind of actor who doesn’t just perform in a movie. He learns from each and every one. Of all his tremendous films, his most eye-opening lesson — which he’d later put to use — came from the set of Saving Private Ryan.

Paramount Pictures

Throughout production, he worked closely with Dale Dye, a former Marine who now advises realism in war films. Tom really connected with Dale, who unveiled aspects of the service lifestyle that the actor never even considered.

Aside from the challenges of active deployment, veterans face a host of struggles back home, Tom found out. Neglected by their own country and burdened by trauma, tens of thousands of veterans make up a huge percentage of the national homeless population.

In the aftermath, both Hanks and director Steven Spielberg strove to remember these heroes and tell their stories. They brought many of them to life in the miniseries The Pacific. Still, Tom wondered if he was really doing enough.

The multi-Oscar winner knew he could simply lounge around his house with his beloved typewriter collection, and nobody would bat an eye. He could do better than that, however. In fact, Tom told himself he had to.

So, not unlike Forrest Gump himself, the actor sprinted into action. He just needed a direction. Of course, plenty of organizations out there aimed to help out veterans in need, but how would he figure out which one to lend his talents to?

Well, the actor quickly solved that problem by more or less starting his own program. Partnering with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Tom chaired the Hidden Heroes Campaign. In that position, he achieved a whole lot more than just raising money.

AARP / Rod Lamkey Jr.

From the start, Hanks intended to reach out to these people on a personal level. Monetary support was one thing, but he knew service people also needed a show of compassion and assurance that America hadn’t forgotten them.

Tom hosted all kinds of events to benefit service families, from meet-and-greets with various celebrities to art therapy sessions. Veterans and their loved ones thanked the actor, often with tears in their eyes, for thinking of them.

Facebook / Elizabeth Dole Foundation

“Everybody can write a check, without a doubt. But it is not a substitute for one on one connection,” Tom explained. It put a real smile on his face to watch these veteran families come together, but he knew there was still more work to do.

Connecting Vets

Savvy as always, Tom knew these strangers felt close to him in large part because he starred in so many of their favorite movies. He wondered if he could take their love of cinema and make it into an opportunity for them to raise money and awareness.

For that, the actor turned to old Bill Shakespeare for inspiration. Clutching a script of Henry IV, Tom approached The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles and the local VA chapter. They were going to put on a play.

Over a four week run, Hanks appeared as the memorable Sir John Falstaff, but he wasn’t the real star. Veterans built the entire set and filled out the stage crew for the massive production.

Variety

It was true magic. With tons of heroes and famous friends watching, Tom and his collaborators brought Shakespeare to life like never before. The actor felt immense joy at being able to bring these two worlds together — and not for the first time either.

Starring in the Ron Howard flick Apollo 13 was a dream come true for Tom, who dreamed of becoming an astronaut as a boy. That didn’t pan out — not that we feel sorry for him — but he used that role to impact space in a huge way.

E! Online

Skyrocketing after his blockbuster role, Tom received an invitation to serve on the board of the National Space Society. This nonprofit promotes continued exploration, education, and peace among nations in the Final Frontier.

Aside from his mainstream Hollywood projects, Hanks has produced multiple features about the moon landing. He also recorded the planetarium narration at the American Museum of Natural History. Tom loves to give back, even if it’s in the smallest of ways.

American Museum of Natural History

Back in 2004, Tom learned on a White House tour that the press corps didn’t even have their own coffee machine. Though not as big an issue as veteran affairs or space exploration, the star still recognized a chance to contribute.

He immediately sent over a state-of-the-art espresso machine, and he upgraded the press with newer models as recently as 2017. He figured it was his small way of thanking them for “Keeping up the good fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”

Twitter / Peter Alexander

Whether it’s veterans or astronauts or reporters, Tom Hanks delights in connecting with his personal heroes. It’s rare for an actor to use his star power to illuminate other people, but perhaps nobody does it better than Tom. Even in daily interactions, he’s a treasure.

When a fan ran into Hanks at a North Dakota diner, the two engaged in an interesting photo shoot. At the fans request, he wanted to pose “drunk” while wearing Hanks’ glasses in a series of photos, one shown below. Hanks of course obliged.

groucho29 / reddit

After winning an Emmy for producing the TV movie Game Change, at the 64th Annual Emmy Awards, Hanks decided to pimp his ride. He taped his award to the front of his limo and turned it into a Rolls Royce.

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While strolling through Central Park in 2016, Hanks decided to stop and crash Elisabeth and Ryan’s post-wedding photo shoot. The couple was shocked and ecstatic, as seen below, and gladly invited him to be a part of their shoot.

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Hanks presented his friend Steve Martin with an honorary award and took the opportunity to really capture the moment. He whipped out his phone and snapped a selfie with the recipient.

He humorously autographed a fan’s Toy Story VHS by putting an “X” over Buzz Lightyear’s face. Of course, it’s just a funny joke to play off of his character’s beef with Buzz throughout the first movie.

When getting into a taxi, the driver looked in the rearview mirror and yelled, “Wilson!” Hanks thought this was hilarious and bonded with the driver. He later invited him to see him in Lucky Guy on Broadway, VIP style.

One day Hanks found a student ID, with the name Lauren, in a park and took to Twitter to see if he could find the owner. Lauren’s friend recognized her and tweeted at Hanks. He mailed it back to her along with a note.

Tom Hanks / Twitter, Entertainment Tonight / etonline.com

On the red carpet, Hanks always tries to snag a photo of his wife, Rita Wilson. He makes sure to have his phone to get the best snaps for himself. Talk about adorable.

Tom Hanks / Instagram

Hanks met a couple at a gas station near his home and found out that they didn’t like his movie Larry Crowne. He apologized and handed them $25 to refund them for their wasted time!

Hanks appreciates a good joke, like that one time someone threw a Cast Away inspired volleyball at him during a Rangers game. He caught it and yelled, “It’s Wilson!”

He was the star of Carly Rae Jepsen’s music video, “I Really Like You.” He sang, danced, and made the whole video something people would certainly be talking about. That’s super cool.

Hanks noticed Girl Scouts selling cookies while he was out and not only did he buy four boxes, but be made a small donation to their troop. He also hung out for a little bit and took pictures with the troop’s customers.

Notorious for his witty lost-and-found tweets, he came across a lost glove on the streets of NYC and did not hesitate to post about it. He took a picture and captioned it, “Vivid. Colorful. Lost. Too common a tale. Hanx.”

Hanks portrayed his character, Captain John Miller, in the 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan a little too well. The Army actually inducted Hanks into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2006.

Paramount Pictures

Since Hanks loves typewriters, he launched an app in 2014 that makes your mobile keyboard screen look like you’re typing on one. It even has sound effects for a full user experience.

Hanx Writer

One time, Hanks invited a super fan backstage during his Broadway musical Lucky Guy. The lucky girl, Sarah Moretti, kept all things Tom Hanks in a scrapbook. Hanks joked that not even his mother had so much memorabilia!

Hanks was among 11 A-list celebrities to donate big bucks to the Obama inauguration party. He chipped in $50,000, which was the maximum the committee would allow, to ensure Obama was celebrated the way a celebrity would.

Hanks never passes up an opportunity for a nostalgic skit. When on The Late Late Show With James Corden, he acted out a six-minute skit highlighting his biggest roles — he even nailed his song from Big.