Two decades ago the movie Forrest Gump was the toast of the Oscars – winning six Academy Awards including Best Actor for Tom Hanks and Best Director for Robert Zemeckis.
But child star Michael Conner Humphreys - who played a young Forrest in leg braces - missed out on his big chance to attend the biggest showbiz event on the planet.
His parents were offered the chance to buy tickets for the most important night of their son's life but, unable to find the cash, eight-year-old Michael and his family watched the show at home on TV.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Mail Online, just days before this years Academy Awards, Michael recalls: 'I was eight when this all went down, but my parents were asked if they wanted to buy an Oscar ticket and they couldn't afford it.
'The tickets were going to cost a lot of money, so we decided to just watch it on TV like everyone else.
'At the time I wasn't sure if I wanted to go or not, but it would be a different situation now.
'I would try and go. As an eight-year-old I didn't mind, that's the perspective, I guess, of a child.
Forrest Gump's Oscars
Best actor in a leading role: Tom Hanks
Best director: Robert Zemeckis
Best writing, screenplay based on material previously produced or published
Best film editing
Best effects, visual effects
'But we did watch it at home and were glad that it received as many awards as it did.'
The movie was a global success. It depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump, a slow-witted and naive, but good-hearted and athletically prodigious, man from Alabama who witnesses, and in some cases influences, some of the defining events of the latter half of the 20th century in the United States.
But despite missing out on the glitz of the Academy Awards back in 1995, Michael said Hollywood star Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis both made an effort to congratulate him for his part in the movie.
Almost 20 years on he isn't bitter about missing his chance in the spotlight, insisting the movie opened up many doors and allowed him to travel the world.
And he tells his inspirational story of how he shunned Hollywood, opting instead for a career in the military – much like his character in the hit movie.
Practice: Michael Conner Humphreys rehearses for his role with the braces which made Forrest Gump famous
That scene: Hanna R Hall played Jenny, of whom Forrest said: 'Me and jenny goes together like peas and carrots.'
Michael said: 'The success of Forrest Gump at the Oscars benefited me a lot.
'Once the movie had done so well in America, and had been through the Oscars, they were getting ready to promote it overseas and they upped the tempo on that.
'They made much of a bigger deal in Germany, the UK and Japan, so I got to travel the world and help promote the movie.
'They'd send me to a few countries in Europe, a few in Asia and I'd go for about a week. I went to premieres in Japan, Germany and England – or wherever they were promoting it – and I was put up in the nicest hotels.
'I got a lot out of it as a kid – a lot more if I had just gone to one Oscar show. So I think that worked out for me – being exposed to world travel and that made me worldly.'
And in those countries, Michael's work didn't go unnoticed as he scooped a number of gongs for his role in the hit movie.
'I attended the equivalent of the Oscars in other countries. I went to the BAFTAs [The British equivalent] so I attended some of the ceremonies,' he said.
'And I was awarded a couple. I have the equivalent of a German Oscar and the equivalent of a Japanese Oscar that I was given in those countries.
'They look similar to Oscars, but they've just got different languages written on them.'
Conner wasn't surprised by Forrest Gump's massive success at the Oscars – given its 13 nominations.
He was sure it was going to win at least one gong.
He said: 'Once it started getting the nominations it did, it was apparent that Forest Gump was going to do well at the Oscars.
'It was once I'd seen the whole film, I had a feeling that it was going to do very well, even as a child.'
Michael says he was blown away by the movie's phenomenal success.
And now he can only dream as to what it would have been like if he attended the Oscars for the movie's big night.
'I wouldn't have been surprised if one of them [Tom Hanks etc] had taken me out on stage or something, which would've been nice.'
Decorated: Michael Humphreys served in Iraq on an 18-month tour of duty as a Specialist in the 1st battallion 36th Infantry Regiment and was congratulated for his service while on duty
Proud: Humphreys enlisted in 2004 and went on to be stationed in Germany and serve in Anbar Province, Iraq
Instead of taking Hollywood up on a number of high-profile offers, he decided to sign up for military service.
Michael said: 'Where we were filming was very close to Parris Island, the Marine Training Camp in South Carolina where all the helicopters that were used in the Vietnam scene came from.
'I would often tell the director and producers how cool I thought all the helicopters were and then one weekend they actually arranged for some of the Marine Corps to take me over to Parris Island and show me the fighter jets.
'I remember we weren't allowed to take photos of the F18s and all that stuff.
'It was basically all the stuff that regular kids my age would never have got the opportunity to do, and I can honestly say that experience directly motivated me to join the military later.
'It was definitely one of the little perks of working on the movie.
'The Marine captain who flew the jet in the movie, had just got back from the Gulf War and I still have the patches from his shoulders, which he kindly gave to me.'
Michael served four years in the U.S. Army as an infantry soldier, which included an 18 month tour of duty in Iraq.
He said it wasn't surprising that his nickname in the military was 'Gump'.
Control: At the wheel of his armored Humvee while in Anbar province with the 1st Battallion, 36th
Poignant: One of the most moving scenes of the film was when Forrest rescued Gump and said: 'You got shot.' Bubba replied: 'I wanna go home.'
'I have never had any regrets about joining the military and I think, compared to some people, I was quite well prepared for it as many of my family members have served in the military over the years.
'I also got stationed in Germany, which was a big perk for me, as I'd always wanted to be stationed in Europe.
'When I joined the military I did my best to avoid being recognized or word getting out about the movie, but I think that lasted about two weeks before somebody figured it out.
'I definitely got a lot of it in the ear after that and the drill sergeants would really mess with me about it.
'It got aggravating there for a little while, but in a lot of ways it was all part of the basic training and definitely got me to where they want you to be.'
Michael served a year in Iraq, and so when his term came to an end, he finished his reserve status and enrolled at the University of North Alabama (UNA) to study International Relations.
Now 29, he is single, lives in Independence, Mississippi and is still studying international relations at college.
Michael says he's not sure what life has in store for him next but hinted that Hollywood might still be knocking.
Run Forrest, run: Just like the grown-up Forrest, Michael Humphreys was cheered on by a crowd shouting 'Run Forrest, run' when he competed in a 10k
Fond memories: After the filming, the young actor was taken to awards ceremonies and promotional activities around the world, including in London (above)
'I don't know what job I will do as I still have nine months left of school,' he said.
'I'd ideally like to work for a private company that does overseas sales, or for the government, but those jobs are usually in Washington, so that wouldn't work for me.
'I've been looking in to working in the entertainment field and often get people calling me about being in their movies.'
Michael says he's even on standby for a few movie projects, but added: 'There are more movie projects launched than actually get off the ground.'
'I think my combined experience of being in the movie, and serving in a war, and travelling overseas, and now studying International Relations, have all helped me understand the world a lot better.
'I feel like I am more in touch with the outside world and have probably had more experiences than the average person.'
His time in service has not only brought him a wealth of life experience, but has also won him a lot of respect from the people he has met, even to the point of being compared to some all-time Hollywood greats.
'I've been surprised over the years about how much respect I have gotten for choosing the Army over Hollywood.
'People often tell me how cool they think it is and some have even gone as far as to compare me to Clark Gable, the famous actor who, when World War two began, broke out of acting to join the Air
Force and I believe he flew bombers over Germany.'
And Michael certainly doesn't regret any of the decisions he's made.
'I grew up a lot quicker than the average kid, from being in the movie,' he said.
'Acting as a child is a lot easier than acting when you're an adult. 'You don't take things so seriously and you just have fun with it.'
Forrest, who was an Alabama native, is recognizable for his Southern accent, especially when he talked about chocolate.
In the film Forrest utters the immortal line: 'Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'
Michael said that it was his own accent that provided Hanks with the perfect springboard to perfect his own voice for Forrest.
Famous scene: The movie depicted Forrest as a ping pong protege whose tour of China ultimately prompts John Lennon to write 'Imagine' and to be invited to meet President Richard Nixon
Key relationship: Forrest and Lt Dan when they work together at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
Twenty years: Forrest Gump became the defining movie of 1995
'When I was a kid I had this deep Southern accent that the director, Robert Zemeckis, quickly picked up on and Tom Hanks liked so much that he ended up copying me and building his own accent around the way I spoke,' he said.
Tom took on some of my mannerisms and incorporated them into Forrest's character. I remember Tom would watch me and try to pick up some of my habits. I guess some of them were a little strange and they ended up adjusting the character so that the adult Forrest Gump was a lot like how I was as a child.'
'I also had a kind of a quirky personality as a kid and Tom took on some of my mannerisms and incorporated them into Forrest's character.
'I remember Tom would watch me and try to pick up some of my habits. I guess some of them were a little strange and they ended up adjusting the character so that the adult Forrest Gump was a lot like how I was as a child.'
One of Michael's most memorable days on set was shooting the infamous Forrest Gump run.
The scene saw young Forrest flee a group of bullies on bikes, and fans will remember that his legs were in braces at the time, making his escape all the more courageous.
'I remember that day well because the braces kept my legs really straight so my knees were locked the whole time, which took a lot of getting used to. But the one thing I remember the most was being afraid of the moment the braces broke free.
'They had little cap-offs that were rigged to the joints of the braces and they planned to remotely detonate them as I ran. They built a couple of test models and I remember being really freaked-out when they showed me how it was going to work.
'They had rigged the braces up with explosives and because we were inside an enclosed room, the explosion was a twice as loud as when they eventually used it on set. That really scared me because, as an eight-year-old, all I could think about was my legs exploding and how much it was going to hurt.
'They really had to talk me into doing the scene after that, and it took me a while to be persuaded.
'The one thing I did think was really cool though was that all the special effects guys that worked on the Vietnam scenes were the same guys who rigged my braces with explosives, and I loved that because I just thought that everything those guys did on the movie was just the coolest.'
The scene went on to generate one of the most memorable lines in movie history when Forrest's best friend, Jenny, yells: 'Run Forrest, run.'
ALSO IN THE 1995 OSCARS
Best actress: Jessica Lange, Blue Sky
Best supporting actor: Ed Wood, Martin Landau
Best supporting actress: Dianne West, Bullets Over Broadway
Best writing, screenplay written directly for the screen: Pulp Fiction
Best cinematography: Legends of the Fall
Best music, original score: The Lion King, Elton John and Tim Rice
Needless to say the phrase has followed Michael around ever since.
'I have been told to run many, many times in my life. And funnily enough, I actually did my first ever 10k run just recently and people had prepared signs for me.
'It was the first time I've ever run publicly in that kind of way. I wouldn't normally do it, but my 88-year-old uncle was running it too, so I had to step up and join him.'
Michael has only fond memories of making the movie, but confesses there have been times over the last twenty years when his role has presented a cause for ridicule by the public.
'All my life I have been mocked by people about the role. People ask me about the movie a lot but their actions can range from, "That's so cool." to "Hey, say that line."
'It just depends, some people will mock you just because they don't have good manners or are ignorant people. I don't get those reactions from nice, intelligent people.
'The ignorant people will walk around spurting-out lines from the movie, or will walk by shouting "Run Forrest, run."
'But fortunately, even after they say that, those same people will still tell me I did a good job - they just won't say it as eloquently as some other people.'