The Shawshank Redemption is one of the greatest movies ever made, and is likely the greatest prison movie to ever hit the big screen. Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins put on such epic performances that you actually wouldn’t mind being locked up with the two of them if you had a choice about it.
Here are 10 facts about the making of the movie that will have you heading to Netflix to watch it again.
1. Technically Andy left prison a millionaire.
Andy spent roughly 20 years locked up at Shawshank Prison, and over that time, he helped the warden steal around $370,000 using his skills with banking and taxes. Andy ends up stealing the money for himself when he escapes, and you might be thinking that $370,000 isn’t that much money for 20 years. But $370,000 in 1966 is the equivalent of $2.7 million today.
2. Morgan Freeman suffered a repetitive injury without complaining while shooting a single scene.
The scene in which Andy and Red meet in the prison yard to talk business, and Red is throwing a baseball with someone, took over 9 hours to shoot. Freeman, playing Red, threw the baseball for the entire 9 hours without so much as a peep about his discomfort. He showed up on set the next day with his arm in a sling.
3. It raked in the dough on rentals.
It did okay when it was in theaters, but it really started to rake in money when it hit the shelves in video stores across North America. It ended up becoming one of the highest grossing rental films of all time, and it will likely keep its spot as rentals are all but extinct.
4. The story stayed on point with the original novel, but they did make a few changes.
In the book, Red is actually a middle-aged Irishman with red hair that is slowly going grey, not a smooth voiced black man with freckles. Director Frank Darabont knew he wanted Freeman for the part even before getting started on anything else. We’re glad they made the change.
5. Brooks was in prison for some truly heinous crimes.
Remember Brooks, the lovable old man who ran the book cart early in the movie? If they would have ever explained what he was imprisoned for audiences would have been less likely to have liked him. In the book, Brooks was locked up for murdering his wife and daughter.
6. Morgan Freeman got a little help from his family for the part.
Did you find yourself wondering where they managed to find a mugshot of a young Morgan Freeman? Some assumed that they had to be authentic from Freeman’s younger years, but in reality they took pictures of Freeman’s youngest son Alfonso.
7. They considered a number of other actors for the role of Andy before casting Tim Robbins.
Tim Robbins gave an epic performance as Andy, but before he landed the part, producers considered a laundry list of other actors. They included: Jeff Bridges, Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen. I think Tom Hanks would have been a good choice as well, but we are still happy with Robbins.
8. It was actually deemed to be a box office bust.
It only made $18 million after it was first released in theaters. It added another $10 million after being nominated for a couple of Oscars. It’s hard to believe that this film wasn’t an instant success.
9. Some of the extras in the movie were more authentic than others.
Because a lot of the people living in town worked normal day jobs, they weren’t always available to act as extras in the movies. To combat this, the producers reached out to a local half-way house to get people out on set. That means some extras were real life ex-convicts.
10. Tim Robbins wanted his portrayal to be authentic.
Before actually beginning to film the movie, Tim Robbins decided to spend some of his own time locked up in solitary confinement so that he could better understand what convicts were going through while inside. I think it’s safe to say that it worked out.
How many times have you watched The Shawshank Redemption?