Twenty-five years ago on October 14, 1994, the world was introduced to The Shawshank Redemption. The tale is based on the Stephen King short story, “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” from his collection, Different Seasons. The tale follows Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins: Mystic River 2003, Castle Rock TV series) and Red Redding (Morgan Freeman: Seven 1995, Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves 1991), two men who bond over a number of years while serving time in Shawshank Prison, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Shawshank Redemption, PopHorror has compiled a list of fun facts.
The Shawshank Redemption Fun Facts!
- Andy and Red’s opening chat in the prison yard, where Red is throwing a baseball, took nine hours to shoot. Morgan Freeman threw the baseball for the entire nine hours without a word of complaint. He showed up for work the next day with his left arm in a sling.
- Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were all considered for the part of Red. In the original novel, Red is a middle-aged white Irishman with graying red hair. However, Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead TV series) always had Morgan Freeman in mind for the role because of his authoritative presence, demeanor, and deep voice. Red’s reply, “Maybe it’s because I’m Irish,” to Andy’s inquiry about his nickname was kept in the film as a joke.
- The mugshots of a young-looking Red that are attached to his parole papers are actually pictures of Morgan Freeman’s younger son, Alfonso Freeman. Alfonso also had a cameo in the movie as a con shouting, “Fresh fish! Fresh fish today! We’re reeling ’em in!” A year after The Shawshank Redemption, he appeared as a fingerprint technician in another Morgan Freeman movie, Se7en (1995).
- Stephen King has considered The Shawshank Redemption to be one of his favorite film adaptations based on his own work.
- The film’s initial gross of $18 million could not even cover the cost of its production. It did another $10 million in the wake of its Oscar nominations, but the film was still deemed to be a Box Office failure.
- Despite being widely considered as one of the greatest movies of all time, it didn’t receive a single Oscar win, though it was nominated for seven, including Best Picture.
- Jeff Bridges, Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen were all considered for the part of Andy Dufresne. Hanks turned it down because he was committed to Forrest Gump (1994). Costner liked the script a lot, but was then embroiled in the filming of Waterworld (1995).
- The American Humane Society monitored the filming of scenes involving Brooks’ crow, Jake. During the scene where he fed it a maggot, the AHS objected on the grounds that it was cruel to the maggot, and required that they use a maggot that had died from natural causes. One was found, and the scene was filmed.
- All the pictures in Andy’s cell, except for the big posters, were handpicked by Tim Robbins.
- When Andy goes to the library to begin work as Brooks’ assistant and Jake the crow is squawking, Tim Robbins had to time his line, “Hey, Jake. Where’s Brooks?” so that the crow wouldn’t squawk over him, since the bird could not be trained to squawk on cue. Robbins was able to time his line perfectly by learning the bird’s squawking patterns, for which Frank Darabont praised him.
- Stephen King never cashed his $1,000 check for rights to the film. Several years after the movie came out, King got the check framed and mailed it back to Frank Darabont with a note inscribed, “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.”
- Clancy Brown said that he had received several offers from real-life corrections officers to work with him, in order to make his portrayal of Captain Hadley more realistic. He turned them all down, because Hadley was an evil character and he didn’t want to misrepresent real corrections officers.
- One of the reasons why the full title of the Stephen King novella, “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” was not employed was because there was a perception in Hollywood that the film was actually going to be a biopic of Rita Hayworth. Indeed, Frank Darabont even received solicitations of audition requests from several actresses and supermodels and their agents about playing the lead.
- Raquel Welch, whose One Million Years B.C. (1966) poster plays a significant role in the film, is a big fan of this movie.
- To prepare for his role as Andy Dufresne, Tim Robbins actually spent some time in solitary confinement. He asked to be locked in solitary for a while to get a feel for it, although he knew his experience wouldn’t be the same because it was voluntary.
- The inmates are seen watching Gilda (1946). In the original novella, the prisoners watched The Lost Weekend (1945). Because the rights to the latter were owned by a different studio, Darabont looked to see which old films he could show without incurring costs. He was delighted to see that one that he was able to use was Gilda, one of the greatest hits of Rita Hayworth, whose image plays a pivotal role in the story.
- While Mansfield locals were eager to be extras, many weren’t available during the day due to their jobs or were only available for one day, which obviously would not work in a prison film. So, extras were found at a halfway house, some of them real-life ex-cons.
- The tree where Red finds Andy’s letter isn’t in Buxton, Maine. It’s in Ohio’s Malabar Farm State Park.
- Red’s cell number is 237. In The Shining (1980), the dead woman resides at The Overlook Hotel in room 237.
- If Andy had been incarcerated in just one cell to the left he would have had nowhere to tunnel to except the next cell, and thus would have had no amazing story to tell.
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We here at PopHorror hope you enjoyed these fun facts about The Shawshank Redemption on the film’s 25th anniversary!