The Shawshank Redemption Trivia

(Total Trivia Entries: 60)

“There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret.”

Stephen King sold the film rights for his novella for a dollar. To find out more trivia keep on reading.

Casting                        Screenplay & Production


Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage and Charlie Sheen were all considered for the part of Andy Dufresne.


Tom Hanks, who couldn’t accept due to scheduling conflicts with Forrest Gump (1994), did however, work on Frank Darabont’s next film, The Green Mile (1999).


Apparently Kevin Costner strongly regretted later on turning down the role of Andy Dufresne.


In the original novella, Red is a middle-aged Irishman with graying red hair. Before Freeman was cast, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford were each considered for the role. However, Frank Darabont always had Morgan Freeman in mind for the role because of his authoritative presence, demeanor and deep voice.



In Stephen King’s original story, Red was written as a white Irishman. In the movie, they left the line, “Maybe it’s cause I’m Irish”, in as a joke, even after they had cast Morgan Freeman as Red.


The role of Tommy Williams was intended for Brad Pitt.


James Whitmore was cast in the part of Brooks because he was one of Frank Darabont’s favorite character actors.


The character Andy Dufresne had a cameo appearance in Apt Pupil, another Stephen King novelette. Andy handled the investments for Dussander, the Nazi in hiding.


Clancy Brown, who plays Captain Hadley in this film, played another character named Captain Hadley in The Guardian (2006).


Clancy Brown has said that he received several offers from real-life corrections officers to work with him to make his portrayal of Captain Hadley more realistic. Brown turned them all down because Hadley was an evil character and he didn’t want to misrepresent real corrections officers.



Screenplay & Production                        Casting


Frank Darabont wrote The Shawshank Redemption script in eight weeks.


Stephen King has said that his original novella, which the film very faithfully adapts, was a culmination of all the memories he had from watching prison movies when he was a child.


Stephen King sold the film rights for his novella for a dollar.


Stephen King sold the rights to the movie very cheaply out of his friendship with Frank Darabont. They had originally become friends when Darabont adapted a short story of King’s called “The Woman in the Room” (King has a policy stating that any aspiring filmmaker can adapt his short stories for a buck) and King was thoroughly impressed. They maintained a pen pal relationship and didn’t actually meet until Darabont optioned Shawshank.


Initially Frank Darabont was planning to make his directorial debut with a Chucky type horror movie, although he wasn’t particularly enthused about the prospect of doing so. Instead, he decided to adapt Stephen King’s atypical short story. The resulting script soon became a hot ticket around Hollywood.


The original story appears in Different Seasons, a collection of short books by Stephen King that also includes “The Body” Stand by Me (1986) and Apt Pupil (1998).


One of the reasons why they didn’t employ the full title of the Stephen King novella – “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” – was because there was a perception in Hollywood that this was actually going to be a biopic of Rita Hayworth. Rumor has it that Frank Darabont even received solicitations from several actresses about playing the lead.


An agent who apparently hadn’t done much research requested an audition for his supermodel client for the role of Rita Hayworth.


Shawshank prison is a staple of Stephen King’s writing, most of which is set in Maine. While it only appears in this story, several other books and short stories mention characters who were sentenced to serve time at Shawshank.


The exteriors were filmed at the defunct Mansfield State Reformatory in Ohio. The prison was in such poor condition, renovations had to be made prior to filming. However, most of the interiors were shot on a sound stage, because they determined it would be cheaper to build duplicates of the interiors rather than renovating the interiors of Mansfield.


The mugshots of a young-looking Morgan Freeman that are attached to his parole papers are actually pictures of Morgan’s younger son, Alfonso Freeman. Alfonso also had a cameo in the movie as a con shouting “Fresh fish! Fresh fish today! We’re reeling ’em in!”



Towards the beginning when Morgan Freeman leaves after they stamp REJECTED on his papers, his buddies ask him what happened, and Freeman says “Same shit different day”. This phrase is also said in the movie Dreamcatcher (2003), which is also a Stephen King movie starring Freeman.


The film’s initial gross of $18 million didn’t even cover the cost of its production. It did another $10 million in the wake of its Oscar nominations but the film was still deemed to be a box office failure.


Despite its box office failure, Warner Brothers shipped 320,000 rental copies to US video stores, a figure a spokesman freely admitted was “out of whack” with the film’s performance in the theaters. Shawshank Redemption became one of the highest grossing video rentals of all time.


The American Humane Association (AHA) monitored the filming of scenes involving Brooks’ crow. During the scene where he fed it a maggot, the AHA objected on the grounds that it was cruel to the maggot, and required that they use a maggot that had died from natural causes. One was found, and the scene was filmed.


The town of Mansfield held all day open auditions for extras. So much interest was shown that they accepted no more people after 3pm.


The close up of Andy’s hands loading the revolver in the opening scenes are actually the hands of Frank Darabont. Later in the film while Andy carves his name into his cell wall (seen twice in the film), Darabont’s hands are used as well in the insert shot. These close ups were inserts that were filmed during post production, notably because Darabont felt that only he could do exactly what he wanted in the close ups.


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


The Shawshank prison, in the book and in the movie, was loosely based on Thomaston prison, an aging prison located in Thomaston, Maine. That real life prison closed in 2004 due to its small size and dilapidated structure.


Apparently Tim Robbins thought of the idea of his character, Andy Dufresne, turning up the volume of the record player in the scene where he plays the Opera music over the PA.


The opera song that Andy Dufresne plays over the loud speakers is “Canzonetta sull’aria” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”.


In the scene where Red says he has no idea what the ladies are singing about, they are actually composing a letter to the husband of one of them inviting him to an assignation with the other in order to expose his infidelity.


Frank Darabont decided not to have the deleted scenes on the DVD release of the film because he’s embarrassed of them and doesn’t want them to be able to be seen publicly.


While Mansfield locals were eager to be extras, many weren’t available during the day due to their jobs or were only available for one day, so extras were found at a halfway house, some of them real-life ex-cons.


In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked The Shawshank Redemption as the no. 72 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.


Rob Reiner loved Frank Darabont’s script so much that he offered $2.5 million for the rights to The Shawshank Redemption script so he could direct it. Darabont seriously considered Reiner’s offer but ultimately decided that it was his “chance to do something really great” by directing the movie himself. Reiner wanted Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise to play Red and Andy respectively.


When Andy first gets reassigned to the prison library, the first officer who comes to him for investment help approaches him by saying, “I’m Dekins.” Roger Deakins was the cinematographer for the movie. While this is the case, Frank Darabont wrote the character Dekins into the original script before he hired his crew, as the same character was in the novella, and the different way of spelling confirms this.


The Shawshank Redemption was released in Taiwan in 1995 as “1995: Fantastic”. Many viewers thought it would be an action movie.


When Warden Norton opens his wall safe near the end of the film, and he opens Andy’s bible, the bookmark ribbon is on the first page of the book of Exodus (which tells the story of the flight of the Jews from Egypt). Exodus is also where Andy began cutting out the pages to hide his rock hammer during spot inspections.



he rock wall where Red’s “treasure” is buried was built specifically for the film and is still standing today. It was built by hand by the art department and months beforehand too. This allowed for the alfalfa grass to grow to make it look weathered.


In 2007, two inmates of Union County Prison escaped from their prison using similar techniques to those featured in the movie. Their partially successful escape led to the suicide of prison guard Rudolph Zurick. When the two convicts were recaptured, they denied responsibility for Zurick’s death.


Many critics have spotted many allegorical themes in The Shawshank Redemption, generally along the lines that Andy Dufresne is a latter day Jesus Christ. Frank Darabont refutes all such claims although he is delighted that so many people have read so much into his film.


For the sewage tunnel sequence, apparently Tim Robbins initially refused to immerse himself in the muddy water at the end of the pipe after a chemist tested the water and dubbed it lethal.


Apparently Frank Darabont took a pay cut in order to be allowed to shoot his own script.


Among the changes that Frank Darabont made to the story from the original novella was that there were originally three wardens and that Brooks’ poignant story was conveyed in one paragraph.


The prison that played Shawshank, the Mansfield State Reformatory, now serves as a museum. Because it was scheduled for demolition at the time of filming, several set pieces remain intact in the prison, including the tunnel Andy crawled out of and the warden’s office.


Andy and Red’s opening chat in the prison yard, in which Red is pitching a baseball, took 9 hours to shoot. Morgan Freeman pitched that baseball for the entire 9 hours without a word of complaint. He showed up for work the next day with his arm in a sling.



The voice over narration was recorded before filming began and was then played on set to dictate the rhythm of each scene. The guide track was recorded in an Iowa recording studio by Morgan Freeman in only 40 minutes. Unfortunately, there was a minor hiss to the track which sound engineers in Los Angeles were unable to eradicate. Consequently it had to be re-recorded in a proper studio; this time it took 3 weeks.


In the novella, the prisoners watch a screening of The Lost Weekend (1945). Because the rights to this were owned by a different studio, Frank Darabont looked to see which old films he could show without incurring costs. He was delighted to see that one that he was able to use was Gilda (1946) – one of Rita Hayworth’s greatest hits.


The ambulance that took Boggs away had to be pushed as its engine had died.


The prison location was in the flightpath of a naval base which caused all sorts of sound problems.


Raquel Welch – whose poster plays a significant role in the film – is a big fan of the finished film.


Buxton, where Andy says he proposed to his wife and buried the “treasure” for Red under the tree, is a real life small town in Maine about 15 miles west of Maine’s largest city of Portland, where the movie says Andy was a banker.


The Shawshank Redemption is Morgan Freeman’s favorite film of his own.


Zihuatanejo, the Mexican paradise where Andy and Red go after prison, actually exists. It is now a tourist city in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. But in 1966, when Andy escaped, it was still a small fishing village which matches how Andy first described it to Red.


Red describes Andy’s dream as a “shitty pipe dream”. During his escape to live that dream, Andy crawls through the sewer pipe of the prison, literally a “shitty pipe”.



The final scene was filmed on the U.S. Virgin islands in the Caribbean, but in the film it is supposed to be the Pacific Ocean.


Frank Darabont preferred to end the film with Red searching for Andy. If he had been allowed to shoot the ending as he wanted, the closing shot would have been Red on the bus heading for the field. Darabont wanted to end on an open, ambiguous note, but Castle Rock insisted on a reunion between the two to please audiences. So instead of showing us a teary reunion, the film observes it from a distance. This was Darabont’s response to Castle Rock’s demands.


At the end of the movie, there is a dedication to Allen Greene. He was Frank Darabont’s agent and also a close personal friend. He died just before the completion of the movie due to AIDS complications.


Charlie Rose interview with director Frank Darabont, Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins:




Total Trivia Entries: 60



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