The Shawshank Redemption: 11 Surprising Facts

Red and Andy in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Castle Rock Entertainment

Widely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made, The Shawshank Redemption was released in 1994, and tells the story of a banker who is sent to prison for murdering his wife and her lover. He must adapt to the violent world he’s been thrown into, and avoid becoming institutionalised like many of his fellow inmates. 

Here are 11 surprising facts… 

1) Stephen King sold for rights for $1,000

Prolific author Stephen King sold the rights to his story, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, to Frank Darabont for just $1,000. He never cashed the cheque though. After the film came out, King loved it so much, he framed the cheque and gave it back to Darabont with a note that said, ‘in case you ever need bale money.’ 

2) The baseball throwing scene in The Shawshank Redemption took 9 hours 

The scene where Andy and Red are standing and talking outside whilst Red is throwing a baseball back and forth took a staggering nine hours to film. Morgan Freeman threw the ball endlessly the whole time. The following day, when he arrived at work, his arm was in a sling. 

3) A maggot that had died of natural causes

The film was overseen by the American Humane Society. During one scene at the dinner table, where Andy finds a maggot in his dinner and Brooks feeds it to his pet crow Jake, the AHS representative objected, stating it was cruel to the maggot. The crew then had to find a maggot that had died of natural causes in order to complete the scene. 

4) Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford were considered for Red

In Stephen King’s story, Red is a red-haired white Irishman. With that in mind, famous white actors such as Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford were eyed for the role by the casting team. Regardless of this, Frank Darabont had always had Morgan Freeman in mind on account of his deep voice and authoritative manner, and the part went to Freeman. 

5) Frank Darabont drew inspiration from Goodfellas 

Once a week whilst working on The Shawshank Redemption, director Frank Darabont would sit and watch the movie Goodfellas. He paid particular attention to how the film used its voiceover narration, and how it showed the passing of time. This helped him achieve both in his own film. 

The Shawshank Redemption rain scene
Castle Rock Entertainment

6) Red’s mugshot is Morgan Freeman’s son 

When you see Morgan Freeman’s papers at one of his parole hearings, there are mugshots of a younger Red attached. These are actually photos of Alfonso Freeman – Morgan’s son. He also had a small part in the movie. He was one of the inmates shouting ‘Fresh fish!’ 

7) Frank Darabont’s hands are used a couple of times

At the start of the film, when you see Andy’s hands loading the revolver, you’re actually seeing the hands of Frank Darabont and not Tim Robbins. The same is true later on when you see Andy carving his name into the wall. This is supposedly because Darabont knew he could deliver exactly what he wanted to achieve in these scenes. 

8) The title was shortened from the novella 

Stephen King’s novella was titled, ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.’ This was shortened for the film because they didn’t want people to think it was a biopic about Rita Hayworth. This was proven to be true when several actresses applied for the ‘lead role of Rita Hayworth’.

9) Morgan Freeman’s first narration took 40 minutes 

The Shawshank Redemption was Morgan Freeman’s first time narrating a film. He arrived at a recording studio in Iowa to record his lines, and he finished the whole thing in just 40 minutes. Annoyingly, when the editing team received the track, there was a hissing sound in the background that they couldn’t remove, and Freeman had to record the narration again. The second time, it took three weeks.

10) Tom Hanks missed the chance to play Andy Dufresne

The role of Andy Dufresne was offered to Tom Hanks. However, Hank was busy filming Forest Gump and had to turn it down. He did however get to star in Frank Darabont’s next film, The Green Mile, which was also an adaptation of a Stephen King story set in a prison. 

11) Clancy Brown refused guidance from real prison guards

Clancy Brown, who plays Captain Hadley in the film, was offered the chance to work with several real prison guards to help perfect his character. Brown refused, though, stating that his character was an evil man, and he didn’t want to give real prison guards a bad name. 

There you have it – 11 pieces of The Shawshank Redemption trivia! 

The Shawshank Redemption trailer