The Shawshank Redemption is considered to be one of the best films to come out of the 1990s and is revered for its thought-provoking writing.
There are few endings more satisfying than seeing Andy Dufresne and Ellis “Red” Redding reconnect after they leave Shawshank prison.
Where Did Andy Dufresne Escape To In Mexico?
Andy Dufresne escaped to Zihuatanejo, Mexico, which is a real place that fans of The Shawshank Redemption can visit.
This picturesque coastal town is the backdrop for Andy and Red as they reunite, with Andy working on his boat.
The real-life Zihuatanejo sits on the Mexican Riviera, between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco.
Zihua, as the locals call the fishing town, is the perfect location for travelers who are looking for a laid-back beach life experience.
With Zihua being a bit more of a remote location, the natural scenery has been preserved and makes more breathtaking views.
In one direction is the open ocean and in the other direction are protective mountains covered in tropical greenery.
While you won’t find escaped prisoners from Shawshank Prison in Zihuatanejo, you will find a nature lover’s wonderland.
Between the nearby wildlife preserves, sea turtle releases, lively snorkeling spots, and plenty of horse riding trails, visitors may wonder why Andy and Red ever wanted to leave Zihuatanejo.
Although Zihuatanejo, Mexico is where Red and Andy are said to meet up, these scenes were actually filmed at Sandy Point National Wildlife Reserve on the Caribbean island of St. Croix.
This wildlife reserve is best known for being the longest continuous beach in the United States Virgin Islands and the largest leatherback sea turtle nesting spot, which is spread across 383 acres of land.
Fans who want to visit the filming location for The Shawshank Redemption will want to avoid planning a trip to the wildlife reserve between April and August because the reserve is closed to protect the leatherback sea turtles and their eggs.
When Sandy Point National Wildlife Reserve is open from September through March, visitation is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.
While this location may be difficult to visit, the stunning views are worth the trouble.
Who Was Brad Pitt Going To Play In The Shawshank Redemption?
Brad Pitt was offered the role of Tommy Williams in The Shawshank Redemption, but Pitt eventually walked away from the role and claims that he doesn’t regret it.
The role of Tommy Williams seemed like the most reasonable next step, following Pitt’s role as troublemaking robber J.D. in Thelma & Louise.
Although Tommy Williams is an incredibly important and pivotal character, the role came up later in the movie and was relatively small compared to the other parts that young Brad Pitt was getting offered.
The final pushing point for Pitt was when he was offered his iconic role alongside Tom Cruise in the 1994 film Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles.
With his role as Louis quicking gaining more popularity than anyone in Hollywood expected, not even Shawshank director Frank Darabont could be upset with the up-and-coming actor for taking on the larger role.
To this day, Darabont likes to tease Pitt about the fact that he was going to star in Darabont’s movie by jokingly asking “Weren’t you that guy?”
With the knowledge that Darabont has now, the director feels that having as large of a star as Pitt in such a small role would have thrown off the balance of the casting.
When Brad Pitt left the cast, the sudden struggle to fill the role again was relieved when Darabont found Gil Bellows.
This Canadian actor had most of his experience in television before starring in The Shawshank Redemption, having appeared on shows such as Law & Order, Flying Blind, and Going to Extremes.
Bellows perfectly embodied the infamous young robber who had been transferred across 13 prisons.
After seeing how smoothly Bellows fit into the cast, Darabont is elated with his final choice for Tommy Williams and feels that “Gil was so darn good.”
How Is Red From The Movie Different From The Book?
Morgan Freeman may play Red in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption, but Red is described as an older, white Irishman in the novella that the beloved film is based on.
Freeman first agreed to take on the role after reading the script and was even more eager to appear in the film when he was told that he was being considered for Ellis Redding.
Although Freeman loved the script and sound of the character, he had never read the novella by horror icon Stephen King.
To further familiarize the legendary actor with the role, Freeman was sent a copy of the book.
Morgan Freeman read the first page of the book and was shocked at how Red was described by King, closing the book and never opening it again.
Freeman nearly turned down the role, claiming that he couldn’t play an Irishman.
Director Frank Darabont and his writers knew that they wanted to tailor the character for an African-American actor like Freeman vastly more than they wanted to be accurate to the original source material.
Looking back on his role as Red, Freeman has firmly stated that he didn’t play an Irishman and instead created his own version of the character.
Although the character was changed, Red’s previous ethnicity was made a joke when Andy Dufresne asked Ellis Redding how he got his nickname.
Red replies, “Maybe it’s because I’m Irish,” almost sarcastically.
While the physical description of Red was altered, the rest of who Red is as a character in the film remained true to the book.
Ellis Redding becomes Andy Dufresne’s best friend while in prison and still serves as the narrator of the story.
He is still one of the smartest and most well-respected prisoners in Shawshank Prison.
Where Was The Shawshank Redemption Filmed?
The Shawshank Redemption was filmed almost entirely on location in Mansfield, Ohio at the former Ohio State Reformatory center.
This prison complex had recently closed in 1990, only a few years before filming for the Stephen King film began.
Ohio State Reformatory is located on the outskirts of Mansfield and the terrifyingly looming building still stands to this day.
Hollywood scouts were attracted to this location thanks to the combination of architectural styles seen throughout the building, including Queen Anne, Victorian Gothic, and Richardsonian Romanesque.
This former prison’s east cell block has 600 cells alone, which are each 7 feet by 9 feet and would hold two prisoners.
Although the east cell block wasn’t used in the film, a large majority of the complex was used throughout the film.
Some of the most iconic locations in the prison from The Shawshank Redemption include the warden’s office, the showers, and solitary confinement.
The Brooks library may now be a storage room, but there are still some sets from the film placed where the film crew left them.
The fake sewer pipe that Andy Dufrense escaped from is still propped up on a platform.
The Shawshank Redemption crew may have never found the Ohio State Reformatory if it weren’t for the president of the Mansfield and Richland County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Lee Tasseff.
Tasseff was able to lead the filmmakers to the prison, unaware of the wave of tourism that the film would bring in for decades.
The Shawshank Redemption fans from around the world make the trek out to Mansfield regularly.
Many of these dedicated fans will bring out printed pictures from the film to compare them to their real-life locations, with some programming GPS applications that play different parts of the soundtrack based on where they visit across Ohio.
What Happened To The Shawshank Tree?
The Shawshank Tree was struck by lightning after standing boldly for 200 years and becoming a popular Ohio landmark.
With Ohio State Reformatory only 15 miles north of the Shawshank Tree, this iconic tree was a beloved part of The Shawshank Redemption pilgrimage.
The Shawshank Tree made its film debut when Morgan Freeman as Ellis “Red” Redding uncovers hidden money from Andy Dufresne under the tree.
Although it was growing strong back in 1994, weather and age were quickly overtaking the tree.
By July 2011, the Shawshank Tree was struck by lightning and heavily damaged by strong winds.
This left the Shawshank Tree unrecognizable, but fans were still eager to visit the filming location.
The final nail in the coffin for the Shawshank Tree came five years after it was struck by lightning during another wind storm.
By April 2017, the final parts of the Shawshank Tree were taken down by land co-owner Dan Dees.
Between the hazard that the unstable tree caused and the sheer amount of random people it attracted, Dees and his sister felt that it was too dangerous for the tree to stay up.
According to the owner, his father planned to farm the land where the tree once stood.
Although the Shawshank Tree is no longer standing, fans of the film can still see the branches of the tree at the Ohio State Reformatory.
The reformatory is now a museum for the film and proudly displays branches from the tree that fell following the initial storm that damaged it.
When Dan Dees first removed the tree, he had people offering to purchase small pieces of the tree from him.
Instead, Dees decided to make furniture such as a table and bench from the wood of the tree for his property.
Was There Going To Be A The Shawshank Redemption 2?
There was talk of a potential sequel to The Shawshank Redemption, but it had turned out to be a prank that had spread like wildfire across the internet.
Although Tim Robbins would never come back to play the role of Andy Dufresne, he would return to Shawshank Prison as another Stephen King character Pop Merrill in Castle Rock.
In 2010, there were false rumors that Castle Rock Entertainment had confirmed the reports of them making a sequel to The Shawshank Redemption that would further follow the story of Red and Andy after their escape from prison.
According to the April Fool’s Day prank, Castle Rock Entertainment CEO Martin Shafer claimed, “This was a story that demanded to be continued.”
The film was supposedly going to answer the question of what Andy and Red did after they met in Mexico, working under the title The Shawshank Redemption 2: Return of Redemption.
This unexpected sequel was going to have Andy and Red take up new identities as they fight crime in Mexico, with Warden Samuel Norton’s twin brother tracking them down.
Despite being an April Fool’s Day joke, reports of a sequel to The Shawshank Redemption set the internet ablaze.
No matter how many people denied the fake sequel’s existence, fans of the film pleaded to know more and wouldn’t see Tim Robbins reprise a Stephen King-written role until Robbins was cast as Pop Merrill.
During the seventh episode of the second season of Castle Rock, Merrill is transported to Shawshank Prison while on death row for his involvement as the patriarch of his crime family.
The character Merrill is actually from another Stephen King novella from the early 1990s called The Sun Dog.
In The Sun Dog, Pop Merrill is a scummy junk shop owner who is killed by a dog inside a haunted polaroid camera.
Did Stephen King Cash His Check For The Shawshank Redemption?
No, Stephen King didn’t cash his $5,000 check for the rights to his novella The Shawshank Redemption.
Instead, King held onto the check until the film adaptation of his book came out and then decided to frame the check before mailing it back to director Frank Darabont with a note that said, “In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.”
Normally, Stephen King prefers for filmmakers to stay as true to the source material as possible.
Although Darabont made multiple changes to the story of The Shawshank Redemption, King has also admitted that filmmakers like Darabont sometimes come up with ideas that he wished he had originally come up with.
The way that King looks at the book-to-film adaptation process is similar to a rocket launch.
The author provides the launch pad and the filmmaker provides the rocket.
King sets his filmmakers up the best he can, and it’s up to the filmmakers to ensure that nothing explodes.