All you need to hear is, “my name’s Forrest, Forrest Gump,” and you slip into the voice that Michael Conner Humphreys made famous in the 1994 film that swept the 67th Academy Awards, Forrest Gump. Every scene with Young Forrest was captivating, and the child actor that played the part couldn’t have done a better job.
At the time, Michael had no idea what he was a part of, but we all could still quote any and every one of his iconic lines right back to him today. Let’s run, Forrest, run, and see what the young star of the film is doing these days.
In the deep south, in the little town of Independence, Mississippi, Michael Conner Humphreys was born on March 1st, 1985. Humphreys went to college later in life, enrolling in 2008 and graduating from the University of North Alabama. Other notable graduates of the school include Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Clay Bennett, actor George “Goober” Lindsey (The Andy Griffith Show), and actor Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice).
Michael was only eight years old when he answered the casting call for the role he will always be remembered for. His mom thought it would be a fun experience, and mama knows best. Not bad for a first role in a movie that beat out heavy-hitters like The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction for the Best Picture Academy Award, right?
The casting team at the Memphis, Tennessee open call knew there wasn’t anyone else to play Young Forrest the second they heard his distinctive deep Southern drawl. Well, that, and a few more callbacks. Michael beat out thousands of other hopeful kids for the part of a young Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump.
Shooting entirely in South Carolina, Humphreys was at first told to act and be more like Hanks for the role. But luckily, thanks to Hanks, Tom decided Forrest should look and sound like the younger version instead. And that’s how movie magic is made guys.
As for his time on set, while Michael enjoyed the bus scene the most out of his own shots, his absolute favorite scenes to watch were the Vietnam sequences. He even got to press the buttons to set off the explosion effects and everything, which was a pretty cool job for an eight-year-old. We think the scenes where he runs his leg braces off and dances with Elvis (hello, uncredited Kurt Russell voiceover cameo) are pretty awesome.
Life after Forrest Gump
While Michael was too young to really get the juggernaut that was Forrest Gump, he tried to resume a normal life. He had to travel for two years to promote the film, and when that ended, a then ten-year-old wanted nothing more to do with acting at the time.
Not only did Michael not want to go on auditions or move to Los Angeles to continue acting, but he switched schools after his family moved to a different town, and he was then labeled that “kid who was in that film,” which didn’t help things. Humphreys went from a straight-A student to pretty much failing out of school.
Stumbling through the next handful of years led Humphreys to join the Army. In 2004 he enlisted and was in the 1st Battalion 36th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Armored Division in Germany before being sent to the Anbar Province in Iraq for an 18-month deployment. He returned to the U.S. to finish his time in Kansas in the 1st Infantry Division, until stepping away from duty in 2012.
Michael did act a few more times after Forrest Gump, but after the film wrapped, his next time on screen wouldn’t be until he appeared in the TV movie A Painted House in 2003 in an uncredited role. When he returned from the Army, he starred in the 2011 historical action drama about the D-Day attack, titled Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers, where he played Eddie.
Michael made his theatre debut in the play If All the Sky Were Paper, where his fellow thespians in production were Laruen Dern, Annette Bening, and Gary Cole. In 2021 he popped up in one episode of the fantasy drama series Knight’s End.
What is Michael Conner Humphreys doing now?
Humphreys has his life going in the direction he wants, and that includes getting back into the career that started it all. The theater in Portland, Oregon that he’s affiliated with doesn’t mind using that Forrest Gump fame either, as they use Humphreys to promote the company. We don’t blame them.
While not super active on social media, his personal Instagram page has enough to look at to stay busy, especially an adorable run-in post with Mama Gump herself, Sally Field and Hanna Hall (young Jenny) in 2019.
Michael doesn’t make the convention rounds or have a Cameo account, but maybe he will soon if he’s serious about getting back into acting.
While he doesn’t have children and isn’t married, Michael doesn’t rule out anything for the future. He’s been taking acting classes and performing in theatre productions to get himself reacquainted with performing as an adult – and he’s thoroughly enjoying it.
Hopefully, we’ll see him and the rest of the Gump family for the upcoming 30th anniversary of the movie that taught him that life is like a box of chocolates.