You probably didn’t know that this classic was released 20 years ago. Whaaaaat?! We’ve rounded up 15 other little known facts about The Shawshank Redemption.
1 The role of Tommy Williams was intended for Brad Pitt, who instead played the lead role in Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles.
2 In the book, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding was a ginger-haired, middle-aged Mick. Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman were all considered for the role that went to Morgan Freeman.
3 There were only two women who had speaking roles in the film. One complains about Brook’s skills as a grocery clerk, and another assists Andy at a bank.
4 Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Nicholas Cage, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen were all considered for the role of Andy Dufresne. Tom Hanks turned it down because he’d already committed to Forrest Gump. Kevin Costner turned it down because he was filming Waterworld. A decision he later regretted. Soz for you, Kev!
5 Although set in Maine, the prison that doubled for Shawshank is in Mansfield, Ohio. The state reformatory was abandoned, and scheduled for demolition once the film was finished. Luckily it was saved and became a tourist attraction that holds the uprooted oak tree where Andy buried his letter to Red, as well as his escape tunnel.
6 In Finland, the movie was called Rita Hayworth—The Key To Escape. Spoiler alert!
7 In the book, Red’s life term is not because of a botched robbery-turned-fatal-shooting, but for murdering his wife by disabling her brakes, which accidentally killed a neighbor and child, as well.
8 When Red and Andy first meet in the prison yard, Morgan Freeman tosses a baseball around while they talk. The scene took nine hours to shoot and Freeman threw that ball the whole time. He came to the set the next day with his arm in a sling.
9 When The Shawshank Redemption first came out it was considered a bomb, only making back $18 million of its $25 million production budget. After it was nominated for 7 Oscars, it turned into a huge hit in the home video market.
10 Stephen King sold the film rights for his novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, for $5,000. He never cashed the checque. Years after Shawshank came out, King got the check framed and mailed it back to the director Frank Darabont with a note inscribed: “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.”
11 The $370,000 Andy stole from the Warden in 1966 may not seem a huge amount for 20 years incarceration but adjusted for inflation to 2010, Andy stole the equivalent of $2,599,855.25.
12 The rock wall where Red’s “treasure” is buried was built by hand by the art department months before filming began. This allowed for the alfalfa grass to grow to make it look weathered.
13 Originally, the film was supposed to end before Red and Andy met again. The last shot was of Red’s narration saying, “I hope the Pacific is as blue as it is in my dreams.”
14 When Andy Dufresne makes his escape, and he crawls through the sewer pipe, the sludge in the pipe was made from a mixture of chocolate syrup, sawdust and water. Even today the pipes still smell like cocoa.
15 The Humane Society had to be present for the scene when the maggot is fed to the bird, Jake. The Society said it was cruel to the maggot, so it had to get a maggot that died of natural causes before the crew could shoot it. We feel for the intern on set that day tasked with finding the maggot.