20 things that you didn't know about The Shawshank Redemption

It's been 20 years since the stories of Red, Andy, that awful prison guard and Warden Norton inside Shawshank entertained and brought a tear to our eyes.

To celebrate, we're bringing you 20 things, that you (probably) didn't know about one of the greatest films of all time.


1. Andy and Red's opening chat in the prison yard took 9 hours to shoot

Throughout the scene Red is throwing a baseball - Morgan Freeman pitched that baseball for the entire 9 hours without a word of complaint.

He showed up for work the next day with his arm in a sling.


2. Stephen King sold the film rights to the film's director Frank Darabont for $5,000

King never cashed the cheque, and years after, he framed it and mailed it back to the Darabont with a note inscribed: "In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve."


3. The mugshots of a Morgan Freeman are his son Alfonso

The young-looking Morgan Freeman are actually pictures of Morgan'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!"


4. Director Frank Darabont watched Goodfellas every week for inspiration

While shooting, Darabont watched Goodfellas every Sunday and drew inspiration on voice-over narration and showing the passage of time.


5. Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen were all considered for the part of Andy

Hanks turned it down because he was committed to Forrest Gump.

Meanwhile Costner liked the script a lot but was then embroiled in the filming of Waterworld - a decision he strongly regretted later on.


6. Some of the extras were actually ex-prisoners

While 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 wouldn't work in a prison film.

Extras were found at a halfway house, and some of them were real-life ex-cons.


7. In the book, Red was a ginger-haired Irishman

In Stephen King's original story, Red was written as a white Irishman.

They left the line, "Maybe it's 'cause I'm Irish", in as a joke, even after they had cast Morgan Freeman as Red.


8. Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman were all considered for Red

Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman were all considered for the ginger-haired, middle-aged Irishman, but it eventually went to Morgan Freeman.


9. The scene with the crow being fed a maggot attracted the attention of animals rights activists

The American Humane Association monitored the filming of scenes involving Brooks' crow.

During the scene where he fed it a maggot, the AHA objected on the grounds that it was cruel to the maggot, and required that they use a maggot that had died from natural causes.

Fortunately they managed find one, and the scene was filmed.


10. The voiceover was recorded before filming began

The track was played on set to dictate the rhythm of each scene.

The guide track was recorded by Morgan Freeman in only 40 minutes.

Unfortunately, there was a minor hiss to the track which sound engineers in Los Angeles were unable to eradicate.

Consequently it had to be re-recorded in a proper studio; this time it took 3 weeks.


11. Red was in Shawshank for murdering his wife

In the movie Red says "I committed murder." when Andy asks him what he's in Shawshank for.

The source novella explains in detail: Red is serving three life sentences for murdering his wife, his neighbor's wife and his neighbor's son.

Red disconnected the brakes on his car in order to kill his wife to collect on an insurance policy, he did not plan on two other people joining his wife for her ill-fated drive.


12. The evil guard, Captain Hadley, turned down offers to study real-life prison guards

Clancy Brown said that he received several offers from real-life corrections officers to work with him 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.


13. Frank Darabont changed the titled from Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

They didn't employ the full title of the Stephen King novella because there was a perception in Hollywood that this was actually going to be a biopic of Rita Hayworth.

Indeed, Frank Darabont even received solicitations of audition request from several actresses and supermodels and their agents about playing the lead.


14. Tim Robbins refused to go into the muddy water for the tunnel scene

For the sewage tunnel sequence, Tim Robbins initially refused to immerse himself in the muddy water at the end of the pipe after a chemist tested the water and dubbed it lethal.

In the end, he dived in and got it done.


15. The studio forced Frank Darabont to change the ending

If the director had been allowed to shoot the ending as he wanted, the closing shot would have been Red on the bus heading for the field.

Darabont wanted to end on an open, ambiguous note, but Castle Rock insisted on a reunion between the two to please audiences.

So instead of showing us a teary reunion, the film observes it from a distance. Darabont's response to Castle Rock's demands.


16. The $370,000 Andy stole from the Warden in 1966 is about $2,599,855.25 in today's money.


17. When the Warden opens Andy’s Bible and discovers the cutaway of his rock hammer he opens it to Exodus

Just like Andy escaping prison, Exodus tells the story of the Jews escape from Egypt.

The is joke came from the film’s prop master, Tom Shaw.


18. There are only two female speaking parts in the entire film

They are the woman who pesters Brooks at the Food-Way and the bank receptionist who serves Andy toward the end of the film.


 19. It was Tim Robbins' idea for Andy to turn up the volume of the record player when he plays the Opera music over the PA.

The opera characters are actually singing about a love letter to expose infidelity, and interestingly, it is Andy's wife's affair which indirectly leads to his imprisonment.


20. Tommy didn't die in the book

In the book, Tommy is not murdered by Hadley on orders from the warden.

Norton instead offers Tommy a chance to be transferred to a minimum security prison with more privileges in another part of the state if he keeps quiet about the evidence that could clear Andy's name.

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