The Shawshank Redemption came out a staggering 22 years ago and it’s still one of the most iconic films to this day.
The 1994 film tells the story of Andy Dufresne’s escape from the intense Shawshank State prison, with him making an incredible and heart-wrenching journey along the way.
It was actually a box-office flop when it came out in the mid ’90s, but was amazingly received by critics and received several award nominations, proving just how much the world was hooked by the moving story.
It took Andy just under 20 years to break out of the prison – so here are 20 mind-blowing facts about the film that you definitely didn’t know.
1. Only Two Women Have Speaking Roles
Throughout the whole movie, only two women have speaking roles. The first is the customer who complains about Brook’s service at the grocery store, and the other is the lady who works at the bank Andy visits after his escape.
2. Andy Dufresne
The main character Andy was played by Tim Robbins, but many other actors were considered. Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen were all candidates for the role. Hanks turned it down as he was too committed to Forrest Gump, whilst Costner chose to star in Waterworld instead.
3. Red & Andy’s Yard Chat
Red and Andy’s first chat in the prison yard, where Red is pitching a baseball, took an incredible NINE hours to film. Red’s arm got so tired from pitching that it was in a sling the following day.
4. Stephen King Novel
The movie is based upon the novel Different Seasons by talented author Stephen King. The book contains four stories, with novella Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption inspiring the film.
5. Red’s Character Is Totally Different In The Book
We couldn’t think of anyone better to play the role of Red than Morgan Freeman. His character in the novel is described as red-haired and Irish! Big actors such as Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman were all considered for the role but Freeman was given the lead despite him not matching the description.
When Andy has broken free from the prison, the warden orders for Red to be questioned. When the authorities bang on Red’s door they shout ‘Open! 237!’ – this is the same number that’s used for the room in The Shining, and the amount of change the four boys in Stand By Me collect. Why? It’s a Stephen King trademark.
7. The Maggot Scene
Remember the scene where Brooks feeds maggots to his crow Jake? Well, The American Humane Association insisted that any maggots that were used must have died from natural causes. The production crew spent a lot of time finding ones that had peacefully died in their sleep.
8. Dangerous Water
Tim Robbins, who played lead character Andy, initially refused to go into the muddy water in Andy’s escape tunnel. It was found to be ‘lethal’ after it was chemically tested, meaning it could have affected the actor’s health. In the end, Robbins went for it and got in.
9. What Was He Crawling Through?
Okay, the muddy water wasn’t great but what was Andy crawling through in his escape tunnel? It was a mixture of sawdust, chocolate syrup and water, so he definitely didn’t have it that bad. People say the site still smells like chocolate today.
10. Red’s Mugshots
The mugshots of Red that are attached to his parole papers are actually photographs of Morgan Freeman’s son Alfonso Freeman. His son also had a cameo appearance in the movie shouting ‘Fresh fish! Fresh fish today! We’re reeling ’em in!’
11. Why Is Brooks In Prison?
It’s not mentioned in the film, but the likeable character of Brooks is in prison for murdering his wife and daughter! He got angry after a losing streak at poker. Also, Red’s reason for being in prison is different in the novel than the film. He’s not at Shawshank for a robbery-turned-shooting, but for murdering his wife by disabling the brakes on her car.
12. Brad Pitt
The role of Tommy Williams, which was played by Gill Bellows was actually intended for Brad Pitt. Mr Pitt declined the offer and chose to star in Interview with the Vampire instead, which came out the same year.
13. Stephen King Never Cashed In
After selling the movie rights, King received a $5000 cheque from director Frank Darabont. But both Darabont and actor Bob Gunton, who played the warden, revealed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the author never cashed in his cheque. Instead, he sent it back to Darabont years later in a frame saying ‘In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve’.
14. Tourism Boost
The film is set in Maine, but was actually filmed across three different locations; Mansfield, Ashland and Upper Sandusky. 13 different sites were used in the making of the movie which has resulted in a massive boost in tourism in each area. In 2013, the Mansfield County Convention attracted 18,000 visitors and caused a $3 million profit boost.
Over the years the movie has had a lot of airtime. In 2013, it had 151 hours of airtime on US channels alone, adding up to an incredible six days-worth.
16. Shawshank Tourist Trail
In Mansfield, Ohio there is even a ‘Shawshank Trail’ for tourists to enjoy. You can have some Reformatory “Red” wines, Shawshank Bundt Cakes and the local pizzeria sells ‘Redemption Pie’.
17. The Book of Exodus
When the warden finds Andy’s hiding place for his rock pick in the bible, he opens it at The Book of Exodus. The biblical story tells of the Jews escaping Egypt, quite fitting for Andy’s escape.
18. Different Names In Other Countries
We know it as The Shawshank Redemption but it was called totally different things in other countries. In Italy it was known as Le Ali Della Liberta which translates as ‘The Wings of Freedom’. In Finland, the film was called Rita Hayworth—The Key To Escape whilst in Taiwan it was weirdly called 1995: Fantastic.
19. Rita Hayworth Dropped
Director Darabont decided not to include the ‘Rita Hayworth’ part of the novel’s title because he thought actors might get confused and think it was a Hayworth biographical film. It still led to some confusion though with one supermodel calling to say she’d fit the part of Rita extremely well, but of course it was a non-existent role.
20. Pin-Up Posters
In the novel, Andy’s cell contains four different pin-up posters of Jayne Mansfield, Linda Ronstadt, Hazel Court and Rita Hayworth. In the film however, Andy’s cell features pictures of just three; Rita, Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch.