"This is a conspiracy, that's what it is"
I always think that the difference between a good film and great film is that a good film is something that you will watch on TV, if there nothing else good on, a great movie is one that you will watch on TV, whatever else is on, and Shawshank Redemption definitely falls into the category of great.
Quite possibly, the best film adaptation of a Stephen King story, so far, The Shawshank Redemption movie was based on Stephen King’s short story Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which was first published in the author’s short story collection Different Seasons. The Shawshank Redemption movie is also one of Stephen King’s favourite adaptations of his work too. Here are ten things about the Shawshank Redemption movie that you probably didn’t know.
1. Red should have been a redheadAs any Stephen King fan will know, things rarely turn out the same when they are transferred from page to screen with Stephen King stories. While fans of The Shawshank Redemption movie will find it hard to imagine, Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding was a ginger haired Irishman in the original Stephen King novella. Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford and Paul Newman were all in the running for the role at first, but it was eventually Morgan Freeman who got the part. There is a passing reference to this change in character in the film when Red answers Andy’s question about how he got his nickname with the answer “Maybe it’s because I’m Irish”.
2. A link to the Overlook Hotel237 has become a recurring number in Stephen King stories. When the warden discovers that Andy has escaped and he wants to question Red on the matter, he shouts "Open 237!" When the boys in Stand By Me collect up their change, they have $2.37 and, of course, 237 is the number of the haunted room at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.
When Andy Dufresne escapes from the prison, he crawls to freedom “through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can't even imagine”, according to Red. We all know what was supposed to be inside that pipe; but actually, it was a mixture of sawdust, chocolate, and water.
4. Nine hours of pitching put Morgan Freemans arm into a slingThe scene where Andy first meets Red (“I understand you’re a man who knows how to get things”), and asks him if he could get him a rock hammer while Red is tossing a baseball back and forth with another inmate, took a total of nine hours to shoot. Morgan Freeman kept on pitching and catching throughout the nine hours and came back on the set the next day with his arm in a sling.
5. Kevin Costner turned down the part of Andy Dufresne in favour of WaterworldKevin Costner thought that Waterworld would better for his career than Shawshank Redemption. Boy was he wrong! Tom Hanks turned the part down in favour of Forest Gump. The role was also offered to Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen before Tim Robbins was finally selected to play Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption.
6. Rita Hayworth was dropped from the title to avoid confusionThe director of Shawshank Redemption, Frank Darabont, dropped the Rita Haworth part of the title from Stephen King’s original to avoid confusion, because he felt that people would think that the film was a biopic about Rita Hayworth. That still didn’t stop one hopeful actress phoning the director to apply for the role of Hayworth in the movie.
Just in case you have had sleepless nights worrying about the fate of the maggots that Brooks fed to his crow, don’t worry, it was all done without causing any undue stress to maggots. The American Humane Society took the trouble to insist that any maggots used in the filming of Shawshank Redemption had died of natural causes.
8. The role of Tommy Williams was intended for Brad PittThe role of Tommy Williams, the Shawshank inmate that Andy helps pass his GED exam, was originally offered to Brad Pitt, but he turned down the role in favour of Interview with the Vampire.
When Red gets rejected for parole, the mug shots of a young Red that you can see on his papers are pictures of Morgan Freeman’s own son Alfonso. Alfonso also had a small part in the movie playing one of the inmates greeting new arrivals at Shawshank Prison with cries of “Fresh fish! Fresh fish today! We're reeling 'em in!”