Little Jenny from Forrest Gump appeared at the beginning of the Oscar-winning Tom Hanks film and befriended Forrest, despite his low intelligence and leg braces that caused others to mock him. And she uttered one of the most iconic lines in movie history: “Run, Forrest, run!” You’ve probably jokingly yelled the line from the film to your friends to get them to hurry up. So, where is the girl who first uttered the famous line today? Turns out the cast of Forrest Gump has changed a lot since 1994.
So whatever happened to the adorable little actress who played the girl that won Forrest’s heart? Well, young Jenny was played by child actor Hanna Hall. She has gone on to star in a series of other well-known films including The Virgin Suicides and Halloween — though you may not have recognized her! These days, Hall is all grown up, and she is even making and directing her own work. Want to find out what else happened to Hanna Hall? Here is where young Jenny is today.
Forrest Gump's Hanna Hall grew up in the mountains in Colorado
Hanna Hall, the actress behind little Jenny in Forrest Gump, grew up in Denver, Colo., and she spoke to House of Horrors about her childhood in 2007. “My family moved up to the mountains when I was two, and it was wonderful,” she said. She still holds a soft spot in her heart for the mountains of Colorado. “Colorado is so beautiful,” she went on.
She explained that she lived there until she was 18, when she moved out of her family home. She first moved to Hawaii “for school,” before moving to Los Angeles and then to Vancouver. As of 2007, Hall was living in L.A.
By the sounds of things, Hall’s family were still living in Colorado at the time of the interview. “It’s nice to be able to go back and be in the great outdoors,” Hall said.
Her iconic role as little Jenny in Forrest Gump was her first movie
Hanna Hall was just 10 years old when Forrest Gump was released. As the actress explained to House of Horrors, playing young Jenny was her first role. Apparently, the way she got the role was “very random.” Hall explained that Nina Axelrod, a manager from Los Angeles, had moved to Colorado after getting tired of the city. When Hall was 7 years old, Axelrod placed an open casting call in the local newspaper for the film. “My mother didn’t want to take me,” Hall recalled. “So I went with some friends and Nina ended up liking me.”
In 2012, Hall spoke to HollywoodChicago.com about the dark side of her character, who was suffering abuse at the hands of her father. “I was about 8 years old and I understood the full extent of the character’s journey and what she had been through,” she said. Apparently, there were actually a lot of much darker scenes that were cut — one scene even implied that Jenny took her father’s life! However, Hall explained that, because she was so young, she found it pretty easy to separate herself from the character.
She appeared in this 1999 Sofia Coppola film
Hanna Hall’s next big role came a few years later in the iconic Sofia Coppola film The Virgin Suicides in 1999. After playing the abused young Jenny in Forrest Gump, this was another pretty dark role for the young actress. Hall played Cecilia Lisbon, the youngest Lisbon girl who attempts to take her own life. However, despite the dark content, Hall felt that she’d be a perfect fit for the film. “I read the script when I was 13, and I just knew that I had to be a part of that film,” Hall explained to House of Horrors. She initially auditioned to play Kirsten Dunst’s character, but she was deemed to be too young and was given the part of Cecilia.
Working with Coppola, one of the talented Coppola kids who have grown up to be gorgeous, would be a dream come true for any actor, and Hall enjoyed the experience on set. Hall recalled, “Sofia was wonderful. She really listened to me and the rest of the cast when it came to working on the characters.” As she explained to HollywoodChicago.com, Coppola’s approach was pretty special. “As an actor, you don’t always feel like the director cares about what your view of something is,” she shared.
The actress behind young Jenny from Forrest Gump went to film school in Vancouver
After Hanna Hall graduated from high school, she eventually enrolled in film school in Vancouver, after two brief stints in Hawaii and Los Angeles. She remembers her time in Canada fondly, and she told House of Horrors, “Vancouver is a great city. I had a really great time there.”
After working as a child actor on Hollywood blockbusters like Forrest Gump and The Virgin Suicides, attending film school was a bit of a change of pace. Hall explained to HollywoodChicago.com, “It takes the ego out of being an actor when you realize that the overall product is not solely about your performance.” At film school, Hall learned to appreciate film as a “collective art form.”
Thanks to her experience at film school, Hall has a pretty thorough understanding of how a film set works, noting that she’d performed nearly every kind of job on set.
Hanna Hall works on her own films "all the time"
After graduating from film school in Vancouver, Hanna Hall had a much broader understanding of filmmaking. While she remained interested in acting, she began to dabble with other behind-the-scenes roles. “I work on small stuff all the time,” Hall confessed to HollywoodChicago.com in 2012. She went on to explain that she was working on writing her own feature film at the time. For Hall, being the writer or director of a project meant she had more control. “When you’re an actor, you’re at the mercy of the director, for better or for worse,” she said. She admitted that for her the production side of things was far more “satisfying.”
Plus, she explained that having experience and practice behind the camera actually made her a better actor. She said, “The line of communication is open between us [her and the crew], and it makes the process a lot easier.”
According to her IMDb page, Hall has worked as a production assistant, a camera assistant, and an assistant director. It’s clear the young Jenny from Forrest Gump grew up to be multi-talented both behind and in front of the camera!
She was featured in Rob Zombie's Halloween
In 2007, Hanna Hall took on one of her most iconic roles to date in the cult-classic Halloween directed by Rob Zombie. But initially, Hall was unsure about doing the film. “I wasn’t really familiar with Rob’s work,” she explained to House of Horrors. Once she found out more about him, she was sold.
Her character, Judith Myers, was viciously murdered ten minutes into the original film. However, in 2007, Hall had a little more screen time. As Hall explained, prior to the film’s release, “My character’s murder does occur early on in the film, but you do see more of her. I have more of a character and you kind of get to know her before she’s brutally murdered.” She added, “She’s a lot more trashy and sexual this time around.” It’s hard to imagine the young Jenny from Forrest Gump taking on a role like that!
Working on Halloween with Zombie was another great experience for Hall. “Honestly, he’s one of my favorite directors. He and his wife are the most intelligent, classy people I’ve ever worked for,” she gushed to HollywoodChicago.com.
Young Jenny from Forrest Gump has appeared in a range of gritty films
Even though Hanna Hall became interested in filmmaking and directing after studying film in Vancouver, she continued to work pretty consistently as an actor. In 2009, she played Georgia in American Cowslip. The film also starred Diane Ladd, Bruce Dern, and Peter Falk. Yet again, this film was pretty dark! As Hall explained to HollywoodChicago.com, it told the story of a “heroin addict who was ruining his entire life but had the capability to create something so beautiful even in that state, which was his garden.” The actress behind little Jenny from Forrest Gump went on to say that she loved the experience.
In 2010, she appeared in the film Happiness Runs, which told the story of the director’s experience living in hippie commune. Hall explained, “Living in California, I had met a lot of people who had been in situations like that.” Apparently, it was on this shoot that Hall developed the strongest bond to one of her characters. She even found it hard to “separate reality from fiction.” Hall confessed, “[I] felt very disturbed by the end of the process.” Yikes, it seems that playing all these dark roles eventually takes its toll.
Hanna Hall starred in Scalene, which forced her to rethink lots of things
One of Hanna Hall’s most significant roles to date was as Paige in Zack Parker’s film Scalene. Apparently, it was the darkness of the role that attracted her to the project. “The scene where we find out how Paige convinces the police that she was raped just seemed terrifying to me, so I was like, ‘Great, let’s do it,'” Hall explained to HollywoodChicago.com. It’s clear that Hall loves a challenge! As she put it, “If you’re not doing things that are challenging you, then you aren’t going to be pushing forward as an artist.”
Over the course of the shoot, Hall found that the script forced her to re-evaluate her own morals. Apparently working on the film made her consider a variety of perspectives. “Nothing in the world is black and white and everyone has a different view of things,” the Forrest Gump star said.
Forrest Gump star Hanna Hall started directing plays in California in 2012
After a career in film, Hanna Hall, aka little Jenny from Forrest Gump, turned her sights to theater. According to International Business Times, Hall was working on a play called Astral Dick at the Electric Lodge Theater in Venice, Calif. as of 2012. She described the play as “a psychedelic absurdist comedy noir that is very dark, very funny.” Based on Hall’s filmography that’s filled with dark roles, that hardly comes as a surprise. Hall also posted a Kickstarter for the play. In the final update on the page from Hall, she wrote, “The show was a resounding success.” Apparently, Hall had a sold-out run for 12 shows and had “an amazing response from the audience.”
Hall spoke about the experience to HollywoodChicago.com, and explained that the play had been written by a friend. She was passionate about the project, so she financed everything herself. According to IBT, Hall saw this move to directing indie theater as perhaps a bad move professionally as it was such a big departure from her more commercial film roles. It’s clear that Hall is passionate about projects because of their artistic merit rather than the paycheck attached.
Little Jenny from Forrest Gump likes going to conventions to discuss Halloween
Halloween ended up becoming quite the cult film. For Hanna Hall, it meant an interesting opportunity — she was invited to take part in the convention circuit. Shortly after she finished directing Astral Dick, Hall spoke at a Q&A at the 2012 Weekend of Horrors in Germany. Hall explained how much she loved taking part in these conventions, even though it wasn’t something she’d ever considered before. “I like to jump on a plane and go somewhere new — being able to come out to Germany has been really fun,” she said. She also shared that the conventions gave her the chance to meet fans in person. “Actually going there and being able to talk to people face to face and how kind of gratifying that was for them, and it became very satisfying for me in that way,” she explained.
The Forrest Gump star went on to admit that since directing her play, she’d been working as a cocktail waitress! Sounds like this convention was a welcome break from her life in Los Angeles between jobs.
Hanna Hall loves taking on challenging roles that scare her
It’s pretty clear that Hanna Hall has grown into a thoughtful, capable actress since her first iconic role in Forrest Gump. In fact, as she explained at the Q&A at the Weekend of Horrors, she is always on the hunt for challenging roles.
When asked what kind of characters she enjoys playing, Hall replied, “Something that’s challenging, something that you maybe don’t understand at first, that’s a struggle to understand, something complex.” She added that sometimes the roles that scare her as an actor are the most rewarding. The most important thing to look for in a character is complexity. “It’s about humanity,” she summed up.
Looking back to her earliest and possibly most famous role as little Jenny from Forrest Gump, we think it’s safe to say that Hall has been bringing complexity and humanity to her work since the beginning!
Hanna Hall has an organic approach to creating her characters
Once Hanna Hall has been cast in a role, her approach seems to be pretty unique. Even though she went to film school in Vancouver to learn about all aspects of the filmmaking process, it doesn’t seem as though she follows any specific acting technique. As she explained at the Weekend of Horrors Q&A in Germany, she prefers to take an organic approach. “I don’t really have anything specific,” she confessed. She described how her process involves reading the script and then simply thinking about the character. She usually starts by imagining the character’s physicality. “If you look at people, everyone kind of holds [themselves] in a certain way,” she explained. So, for Hall, “It really helps to walk around and kind of feel a different posture.”
Eventually, after getting to know her characters through the script and through their physicality, things usually just click into place. As Hall put it, “Every time it’s something different that clicks me into a character.” It sounds like Hall has a natural ability to step into someone else’s shoes and create a truthful character — after all, little Jenny from Forrest Gump was pretty amazing for such a young child!
Forrest Gump's Hanna Hall proudly supported the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020
In 2020, Hanna Hall spoke up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter. In fact, she tweeted about the movement several times. On June 1, 2020, she wrote, “Not knowing what White Privilege is, IS White Privilege.” Three days later, she explained how she had been at a protest in New Orleans. By the sounds of things, she was really in the thick of things — according to her tweet, she and her fellow protesters were tear-gassed. She continued to stand up for her beliefs online, adding that this was “a war crime under the Geneva Convention.” Then, Hall tweeted again on June 8, 2020, writing, “If you are white and think you should ask a Black friend how you can be better, don’t.” She then said that she would be happy to chat with her white friends instead.
It’s clear that Hall is incredibly passionate about social equality and justice. It’s amazing to see her intelligent, vocal response! In fact, it’s something we can totally imagine Jenny from Forrest Gump doing at her age!
She still might be most famous for playing little Jenny from Forrest Gump
After looking into Hanna Hall’s fascinating entertainment career, it’s safe to say she has come a long way since her first-ever role in Forrest Gump. However, as far as public recognition goes, young Jenny from Forrest Gump is still her best known character. As Hall told International Business Times, she still gets recognized on the street for playing Jenny. “Mostly it’s like people think I look familiar, like, ‘Oh did I go to high school with you?'” she said. Apparently, once people realize who she is, she invariably gets asked to do her famous “Run, Forrest, run” line, but she doesn’t usually say yes. “I don’t even know the accent anymore,” she explained.
Other times, Hall will hear strangers yelling her famous line to their friends without realizing that the original Jenny is standing right next to them. It must be pretty bizarre to have created such a famous line in movie history! Nevertheless, it’s so cool to see all of the other amazing things this actress has achieved so far.
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