15. It’s Based on a Novella
The original story is based on Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption. It was originally published with another infamous work, Apt Pupil. Unfortunately, that film never saw the same success as Darabont’s film.
14. Only TWO Women Speak
You may not realize this unless you’re paying attention, but only two women speak in the film. One lady complains about Brook’s skills as a clerk at the grocery store, and another female helps Andy at the bank. We don’t think this would fly in 2017, do you?
13. An Amazing Right’s Deal
When Frank Darabont bought the rights to The Shawshank Redemption, he did so for only $1.00. Practically unheard of in today’s film market, we have to wonder if King is kicking himself for being low-balled back then.
12. A Subtle Nod to King
The production company that made the film was Castle Rock Entertainment, which is the name of a fictional Maine town where many of King’s works take place. This was a subtle nod to King and a way to honor him for his work. Originally, Castle Rock wanted Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford to star in the film.
11. Darabont Wrote the Script in Two Months
During the writing process, Darabont chose to drop the “Rita Hayworth” portion of the story because many actresses believed the film was going to be a biopic about her life. Overall, it only took eight weeks to complete the script for the film.
10. Filmed in Ohio and Not Maine
Despite the story being set in Maine, the production chose to shoot in Ohio instead. Most of the film took place at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, which stood in for the Shawshank Prison. Portions of the cell block still stand to this day, preserved for historical purposes.
9. The 9-Hour Game of Catch
During the film, there is a scene where Andy approaches Red and they play catch. According to Morgan Freeman, the scene took nine hours to shoot and he played catch during the entire time. Although he didn’t complain, Freeman still arrived to set the next day with his arm in a sling.
8. Thank Goodfellas for Style
One source of inspiration Darabont took for the film was Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. According to Darabont, he respected the use of voice-overs throughout the film and the unique editing that was utilized.
7. Voice over First, Filming Second
Before any of the film was shot, Morgan Freeman recorded his entire voice-over narration. This was actually used during takes of the film to make sure the actors could cue up to the moments in the narration. Sadly, the quality of the voice-over work did not hold up and Freeman had to re-record it all when the film had wrapped.
6. Rain Shooting was Difficult
Tim Robbin’s big scene raising his hands in the rain after Andy breaks out of prison was extremely difficult to shoot. According to the director, the water kept getting into the equipment during the takes, slowing down the production.
5. Property Master Story
In one popular scene of the film, Andy’s rock hammer is tucked into a Bible right after the book of Exodus. This idea was actually woven into the narrative by a suggestion from the film’s prop master.
4. A Quick Cameo
Frank Darabont’s hands and feet make a quick cameo in the film in the close-up shots of Andy. We’re guessing Tim Robbins had some seriously gross hands?
3. The Real Red
In King’s original novella, the character of Red was white and described as a middle-aged Irishman. However, the producers really wanted Morgan Freeman so the part was rewritten as an African American. However, before that decision was made, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood both auditioned for the role.
2. Not Morgan Freeman’s Mugshot
The mugshot of a young Red that is glimpsed briefly in the film is actually not a young Morgan Freeman. The director used a picture of his son for the sequence. No wonder they didn’t look anything alike.
1. The Tree and the Letter
In one of the more powerful scenes in the film, the character Red finds a letter from Andy, in a tree, in Buxton, Maine. This scene was actually not shot anywhere near Maine and was filmed in Malabar Farm State Park in Ohio. We sort of feel deceived with this cinematic trickery!