Did Tom Hanks Really Play Ping Pong in Forrest Gump?
‘For some reason, Ping Pong came very natural to me.’
Those were the immortal words uttered by the all-star Ping Pong champion Forrest Gump (but people call him Forrest Gump).
But while the prowess of the slack-jawed wonder is undeniable, how does Hanks fare with the paddle in his hand?
Life Is Like A Box of Chocolates...
With Tommy boy, you never know what you’re gonna get.
He survived on a desert island for four years with only the smiley-faced Wilson for company.
He took on Nazi-occupied France to bring Private Ryan safely home.
He successfully brought the Apollo 13 rocket safely back to Earth.
And most recently, he landed a commercial flight on the Hudson without breaking a sweat.
Now that’s an impressive CV.
So why not chuck Master of Ping Pong onto the list?
Run Naivety, Run!
Ok, let’s for one moment stop grovelling over the undisputed awesomeness of Tom Hanks. Just for a moment, I promise!
Now somewhere around where you’re sitting you’ll find your objectivity hat. For some, it might be objectivity goggles. For the more haughty of individuals, it’s an objectivity monocle.
Put it on, nice and snug. There you go.
Ever watched any sci-fi movie ever? How about a fantasy? Or Horror for that matter?
Well whether it’s inter-galactic armageddons, sword-wielding wizards, or neck-spinning psycho-kiddies, the movie business is a bit of a truth tease.
The foremost leader on the march against reality is good ol’ Lieutenant CGI. If it can conjure up fire-spewing dragons and earth-invading aliens, getting a man to look really really good at ping pong hardly seems out of the question.
Stupid is as stupid does
That said, actors are notorious for doing crazy stupid things for film roles. Hell, the crazier and stupider the more likely we’ll throw an Oscar at them.
Why Hanks himself shed 55 pounds for his role in Castaway, the man had a strict diet of water and vegetables (yumsies) and hit the gym for two-hour sessions every day. Oh yeah, and he had to do so for four months during filming!
The words ‘Ay Caramba’ come to mind.
So then are those riotous backhands, and full-blooded top spins really that hard to swallow?
Running out of Forrest Gump Quotes!
In the behind-the-scenes video ‘the ill-making of Ping Pong’ we get a sneaky look behind the curtain and all is revealed.
‘You have the actors mime playing Ping-Pong, and then you put the ball in later.’ Director Robert Zemeckis says.
In the video, you can watch the multi-oscar winner have a violent showdown with his opponent Valentine without the presence of a ping pong ball. The ball was later added using CGI effects.
And yes it is as amusing to watch as it sounds.
Fun Fact: The paddle used in the movie was from the company Stiga. It was painted on one side to prevent camera reflection.
Incidentally, at the time of writing this post, the original paddle used in the movie was up for sale on eBay for mere $400. Here is the link to the listing.
You can remove your Objectivity hat, glasses, monocle now.
Yes, it would appear that the man who can do everything, can do almost everything.Zemeckis said that ‘As great a Ping-Pong player as Tom Hanks is, he’s not as good as what Forrest has to become.’
You see Hanks may not be the greatest Ping Pong player to grace the game, but he knows his way around the table.
And as Hanks has often said, when it comes to anything of importance in life, ‘if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.’
So whether Ping Pong comes as natural to you as it did for Forrest, or it’s something you’ve got to work at like Tommy boy, take the sage advice that was given to Forrest, ‘whatever happens, never, ever take your eye off the ball.’
So now you know, Tom Hanks did not actually play ping pong in the movie, but that should not stop you right? It's a beautiful game which anyone with discipline and hard work can master.
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