Behind The Scenes Saturday: The Shawshank Redemption

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  • Red (Morgan Freeman) and Andy’s (Tim Robbins) first scene together was filmed for 9 hours. Morgan threw his baseball for the whole 9 hours with no complaints. It ended up taking a toll on him the next day, and he had to have his left arm in a sling.
  • The character of Red was originally written as a white, middle-aged Irishman. With that in mind, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Harrison Ford were previously considered for the role. The film’s director, Frank Darabont actually had Morgan Freeman in mind for the character all along. The joke about Red being Irish in the film was a subtle reference to the original Red.
  • Stephen King was given a $1,000 check for the rights to the film – a check that he never cashed. He waited until many years after the film’s release, framed the check, and sent it back to Frank Darabont, with a note that read, “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.”
  • In the scene when Andy is working with Brooks (James Whitmore) for the first time, he asks Brooks’ crow, Jake, where Brooks is. The crow used for the scene wasn’t trained to squawk on cue. Because of this, Tim Robbins had to time his lines just right so Jake didn’t squawk over him when he had to speak. He perfected this by learning Jake’s squawking patterns.





  • During filming, Frank Darabont watched the movie Goodfellas and drew inspiration from it. In particular, the film’s narration and passage of time.
  • Though not confirmed, it was speculated that Brooks was in prison for killing his wife and daughter after a losing poker streak.
  • Morgan Freeman’s son, Alfonso Freeman had a few bit parts in Morgan’s films. In The Shawshank Redemption, Alfonso’s pictures were used as younger Red’s pictures attached to his parole papers. Alfonso also played the con shouting, “Fresh fish! Fresh fish today! We’re reelin’ them in!” At the beginning of the film.
  • Clancy Brown (Captain Hadley) received many offers from real corrections officers to work with him make his character more realistic. Clancy knew that Hadley was a particularly evil character, and because he didn’t want to misrepresent real corrections officers, he turned all of their offers down.





  • The original novella was titled Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption. The title had to be changed because people kept mistaking the film as a Rita Hayworth biopic. Frank Darabont even received tons of audition requests from actresses and models who wanted to play Rita.
  • Frank Darabont was embarrassed by the deleted scenes and decided not to show them publicly on the DVD releases.
  • Many actors were considered for the role of Andy, including: Kevin Costner, Jeff Bridges, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, and Charlie Sheen.
  • For a few close-up shots of Andy’s hands, Frank Darabont actually used his own hands. He believed he was the only one who could do exactly what he wanted with the close-ups, so he filmed them during post production.





  • Jon Favreau actually auditioned for the role of Fat A** (Frank Medrano). Favreau claimed he was inspired to lose weight after what he considered the worst audition he ever did.
  • This was the first film that Morgan Freeman provided narration for. His narration was recorded before filming began so it could be played on set to help with the rhythm of the scene. However, the audio had a hiss that couldn’t be removed. Because of this, they had to spend an extra 3 weeks recording it all over again in a proper studio.
  • To prepare for the film, Tim Robbins wanted to feel what it was like to really be in solitary confinement. Although he asked to be locked in solitary for a while, he knew that because he was doing it voluntarily, he wouldn’t completely feel the true experience.
  • Rob Reiner offered $2.5 million for the rights to the script because he really wanted to direct it. If he did, we probably would’ve seen Harrison Ford as Red and Tom Cruise as Andy. Darabont considered the offer, but ultimately turned it down. He wanted the chance to do something great with this film and he even took a pay cut in order to direct it himself.



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  • During the scene where Brooks fed a maggot to his crow, Jake, The American Humane Society disapproved, claiming it was cruel to the maggot. A maggot that died of natural causes had to be found for the scene instead.
  • The filmmakers had Brad Pitt in mind for the role of Tommy (Gil Bellows), but he decided to play in Interview With The Vampire instead.
  • Mansfield locals really wanted to be extras for the film. However, because of their jobs, they weren’t able to participate. Instead, the extras consisted of half-way house residents and real ex-cons.
  • Tim Robbins handpicked all of the pictures (other than the posters) for Andy’s cell himself.



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  • Due to many differences between the cast, the producers, and Frank Darabont, Morgan Freeman stated the atmosphere on set was very strange and tense.
  • Frank Darabont was deeply into opera when he was in the middle of writing the script. Every time he felt trapped in his writing process, he would listen to The Marriage Of Figaro to lift his spirits up.
  • During a break between takes, Frank Darabont and Michael C. Poole, who was an extra in the film, were on their way out to get coffee. Unbeknownst to them, a crew member accidentally left a lamp too close to one of the plastic windows on set and it caught fire. Luckily they were able to put out the fire before the whole set was burned down.
  • Charlie Sheen wanted to be a part of this film so badly, he called an executive at Castle Rock and said he’d do the film for scale (actor’s minimum). He was also willing to do a 30-minute test reel as Red for them. They ended up turning him down.





  • Sidney Poitier turned down the role of Red because he felt like if he played a convict, he wouldn’t be setting a good example.
  • Because Tom Hanks was committed to Forrest Gump and couldn’t star in this film, he ended up making it up to Frank Darabont by starring in his next King adaptation, The Green Mile.
  • During filming of the sewage tunnel escape, a chemist on set actually dubbed the water lethal and Tim Robbins initially refused to be submerged in it.
  • We almost didn’t get Andy and Red’s reunion at the end of the film. Frank Darabont wanted to end it on Red beginning his journey to find Andy, with a more ambiguous send-off. Castle Rock insisted on the reunion to please audiences. In response to the demands, Darabont gave us the reunion, but we see it at a distance.





  • The reason Red was in prison was explained in the novella. He disconnected the brakes on his car to kill his wife and collect the insurance policy. During the crash, she ended up hitting and killing their neighbor and his son.
  • At the end of the film, when Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) flips through Andy’s bible, his hammer was purposefully placed within the pages of Exodus. Exodus, meaning to escape or depart, tells the story of Hebrew slaves escaping Egypt.
  • The ambulance that took Bogs (Mark Rolston) away ended up breaking down due to engine troubles and had to be pushed.
  • During Andy’s escape, the sewage sludge was made of chocolate syrup, sawdust, and water. They say that 2 decades later, the pipes still smell like cocoa.




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