Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Shawshank Redemption

You probably don’t know all these stories behind the making of The Shawshank Redemption.

The rise of “Shawshank Redemption” was a surprising one. At the time it was fairly well-received but was decidedly not the biggest film of 1994. In fact, that’s one of the biggest movie years of the last three decades, which made it hard for “Shawshank” to completely stand out. And yet, in time, it would become a cable staple and eventually rise to be the most popular movie on IMDb’s audience rating system.

The movie is based on a novella by Stephen King

The story of The Shawshank Redemption was written by Stephen King back in 1982 and was called “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” with the subtitle “Hope Springs Eternal.”

It was part of a collection released by Stephen King called “Different Seasons” and consisted of 4 novellas.

Remarkably, The Shawshank Redemption wasn’t the only novella in the collection that was turned into a Hollywood movie. All 3 others were adapted for the screen as well. These are:

Stand By Me (1986)
Apt Pupil (1998)
The Breathing Method (2020)

The role of “Red” was played by an unlikely actor

In the novella, Red is actually an Irish, middle-aged, greying redhead. The role was perfectly played by Morgan Freeman.

The reason?

Director Frank Darabont always had Morgan Freeman in mind because of his authoritative presence on screen and deep voice.

The result was an astounding performance that earned Morgan Freeman an Academy Award nomination for best actor in 1995.

A lot of other actors were considered to play the crucial role of Red in the movie.

Amongst them were Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, Jeff Bridges, Robert Redford, Johnny Depp, Matthew Broderick, Charlie Sheen, Tom Hanks, and Kevin Costner.

Morgan Freeman got injured during the opening scene

Andy and Red’s opening chat in the prison yard, in which Red is throwing a baseball, took nine hours to shoot. Morgan Freeman threw the baseball for the entire nine hours without a word of complaint. He showed up for work the next day with his left arm in a sling.

Stephen King never cashed out the check

Stephen King never cashed his $5,000 check for rights to the film. Several years after the movie came out, King got the check framed, and mailed it back to Frank Darabont with a note inscribed, “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.”

Tim Robbins learned a lot about crows

When Andy gets a job in the library to work as Brook’s assistant, he had to time his lines perfectly.

To do so, he actually had to study the squawking pattern of Brook’s crow so his lines wouldn’t be squawked over by the crow.

Tim Robbins learned a lot about crows

Goodfellas gave Frank Darabont his inspiration

Frank Darabont watched Goodfellas (1990) every Sunday while shooting this film, and drew inspiration from it, on using voice-over narration and showing the passage of time.