A few weeks ago I had the honour of working with a university student.
She asked me a question that opened a whole new can of worms, for both her and I.
She stated that her university prof had asked the whole class to write down reasons why actor Gary Sinise had chosen to take on the role of "Lieutenant Dan" in the movie Forrest Gump.
Well, first of all I thought of the roller coaster of emotions he would have to portray throughout the movie.
First his character was happy living as a Lieutenant for the US army, as this role, he truly believed, was who he was, and gave him his purpose to live.
Then he lost his legs because of his position, which ultimately stripped him of his entire identity, which in turn, robbed him of his thrive to live. He no longer loved himself or anyone else.(Especially Forrest Gump for having saved him.)
His character would become a man encumbered by hate and self-destruction.
In the end, through much turmoil, and self discovery, Lieutenant Dan found himself. A man with much more purpose and ability than he had previously believed. Through this discovery he was able to love himself, which created his ability to find his true love.
This student and I spoke more and realised that although lieutenant Dan's character went from one extreme to another,.(Jenny's character was erratic as well) Forrest Gumps character remained the only constant.
Forrest Gump's character, considered mentally challenged and unstable, was the one character that created stability and consistency in Lieutenant Dan's (and Jenny's) life. Through all the ups and downs of this movie, Forrest Gump was the only mentally stable character.
In conclusion, how many of us live our lives with or among mentally challenged people, and never truly appreciate the consistency and stability they create in our lives. Maybe this was one of the reasons Gary Sinise chose this role.