In the film, Wilson the volleyball serves as Chuck Noland's personified friend and only companion during the four years that Noland spends alone on a deserted island. The character was created by screenwriter William Broyles Jr. While researching for the film Cast Away, he consulted with professional survival experts, and then chose to deliberately strand himself for one week on an isolated beach in the Sea of Cortes, to force himself to search for water and food, and obtain his own shelter. During this time, a volleyball washed up on shore. This was the inspiration for the film's inanimate companion. From a theatrical view, Wilson also serves to realistically imply dialogue in a one-person-only situation.
One of the original volleyball props was sold at auction after release of the film for $18,400 and now rests in a display cabinet in FedEx Kinko's CEO Ken May's office in Dallas, Texas. In addition, many near identical replicas of Wilson are available for sale, and the Wilson company manufactures a volleyball with the handprint face on one side.
Wilson has been a subject of humor in literature, film and television. Shortly after Tom Hanks was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, some in the news joked that Wilson should also be nominated for Best Supporting Piece of Athletic Equipment