Forrest Gump (1994) was one of the most popular Vietnam-era movies ever released. Featuring an all-star cast that included Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Sally Field and Mykelti Williamson, it went on to win six Oscars at the 67th Academy Awards. Among those to appear in the film was Michael Conner Humphreys, who portrayed young Forrest Gump. Instead of continuing with a career in Hollywood, he opted to serve his country overseas with the US Army.
Michael Conner Humphreys’ role in Forrest Gump (1994)
Michael Conner Humphreys was born on March 1, 1985 in the small town of Independence, Mississippi. In 1993, when he was just eight years old, he attended an open casting call for “a young Tom Hanks with light eyes and a quirky disposition.” The film? Forrest Gump.
Largely thanks to his thick Southern accent, Humphreys secured the role of young Forrest Gump, with Hanks doing extra work to ensure he nailed the young boy’s accent in his portrayal of the older version of the character. For his appearance, Humphreys was nominated for an award at the 16th Youth in Film Awards, alongside co-stars Hanna Hall and Haley Joel Osment.
Outside of high school productions; an uncredited role in the 2003 television movie, A Painted House; the World War II-era independent film, Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers; and an episode of Netflix’s The Movies That Made Us, Humphreys has largely stayed out of Hollywood, opting to pursue other endeavors.
Speaking about his decision to not pursue acting, Humphreys once said, “My parents allowed me to make my own choices, and they never pressured me to pursue more acting opportunities. I was more interested in having fun and playing with my friends. School was important to me, so I wasn’t actively seeking more roles.”
Service with the US Army
In either 2004 or ’05, following his high school graduation, Michael Conner Humphreys enlisted in the US Army. His reasons were two-fold. He felt it was his duty to serve his country, having grown up in a family of service members. Forrest Gump also played a role, thanks to the film’s combat scenes and a trip Paramount Pictures arranged to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina.
After finishing Basic Training at Fort Benning (now Fort Moore), Georgia, he was stationed in Germany, before completing an 18-month stint in Iraq‘s Anbar province with the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division. It’s reported that 100 soldiers in his battalion lost their lives to enemy action during this time.
Following his deployment overseas, Humphreys was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, before leaving the service in June 2008. In an interview with the Associated Press, he revealed that his time in the US Army was “a good experience and you saw a lot of bad things, a lot of people got hurt over there. There was definitely a lot of violence. I just hope that we did some good. In the end, I learned a lot and I hope it made me a better person.”
He added in an interview with The Bona Venture, “I’ve never known anyone with that kind of comradery or a group that helped me develop than the people in the Army.”
Michael Conner Humphreys has readjusted to civilian life
Following his service with the US Army, Michael Conner Humphreys attended the University of North Alabama. After obtaining employment with the Vancouver Transportation System, he went on to work as an online teacher. He currently lives in northeast Mississippi and works for Coca-Cola.
Despite being out of Hollywood for decades, Humphreys is still remembered for portraying Forrest Gump in the Academy Award-winning movie. He still gets asked by fans to sign memorabilia, despite not attending conventions, and even met up with his on-screen mother, Sally Field, back in 2019 – a reunion that was captured on Instagram.