The Reason Dave Chappelle Turned Down A Role In Forrest Gump

Dave Chappelle is undoubtably one of America's best-known comedians, skyrocketing to fame in the early 2000s for his Comedy Central show, "Chappelle's Show," which received widespread critical acclaim and recognition. In 2006, he was called "the Comic Genius of America" by Esquire, and was ranked ninth among the "Best Stand Up Comics of All Time" by Rolling Stone in 2017. Unsurprisingly, he has received five Primetime Emmys out of 12 nominations, and he's currently in the process of releasing four new Netflix stand-up specials as part of a multimillion-dollar deal

However, what many may not know is that the famed comedian was not always a stand-up comic. In fact, during his early acting years, he was even offered a role in the iconic "Forrest Gump." However, although he would have ended up starring alongside Tom Hanks in one of the biggest movies of the decade, he ended up turning down the role, resulting in an ironic turn of fate which would surely make for some great comedic material. 

Dave Chappelle almost played Bubba in Forrest Gump

According to E!, the role of Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue in Robert Zemeckis' classic 1994 film "Forrest Gump" was not always going to be played by Mykelti Williamson. Apparently, the role was initially offered to actors David Alan Grier and Dave Chappelle, as well as rapper Ice Cube. However, all three declined. Chappelle, in particular, did so because he was worried the film would be a flop. As one might expect, he has gone on to express remorse for his decision, which is in part what led to Chappelle's appearance in the 1998 hit, "You've Got Mail."

Per IMDb, "Forrest Gump" star Tom Hanks was aware of Chappelle's disappointment over not appearing in the iconic film when he had the chance, so Hanks tried to make it up to Chappelle by promising to work with him in the future. Four years later, after being offered the lead role in "You've Got Mail," he suggested to director Nora Ephron that Chappelle be offered the role of his character's best friend, Kevin. Ephron agreed, and Chappelle was more than happy to accept. 

Dave Chappelle later made a film parodying Forrest Gump

Although he never got to star in "Forrest Gump," Dave Chappelle did end up making his own version of the film, albeit a parodic one. In 1997, he released "Bowl of Pork," a comedic short film in which he starred as "Black Forrest Gump," a dim-witted Black version of Hanks' character who accidentally becomes responsible for the 1991 Rodney King beating, the L.A. riots, and the evidence implicating O. J. Simpson of murder. 

In the short, Chappelle parodies Gump's classic "box of chocolates" line as, "Mama always told me life was like a bowl of chiclets. They save the worst parts for Black people." In the end, he gets beaten up by the elderly Black couple sitting next to him.

Per IMDb, the short film was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, a black director who ended up directing other hits like "Love & Basketball" in 2000, "Beyond the Lights" in 2014, and most recently, the historical epic "The Woman King," which was released in late 2022.