There are Christmas movies and then there’s Die Hard. It stands in a holiday cinema class all its own. As our own Kris Maske stated before, “…if Die Hard isn’t in someone’s top three Christmas movies then you shouldn’t be friends with them.”
While most holiday movies fail to escape the pitfalls of a cheesy original song, half-hearted Christmas message, and goofy guy in a Santa suit, Die Hard gives us broken glass and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. And the closest thing we get to Santa Clause is a dead terrorist in sweatshirt that reads, “Now I have a machine gun.”
Here are 20 facts behind the story of the one and only true Father Christmas, John McClane.
1. Die Hard just sounds like a bad-ass action movie. Give Your Life Expensive sounds like the title of a Hungarian career seminar. That’s just what Die Hard’s title is in Hungary though. The sequel is Your Life is More Expensive and of course the third title is The Life is Always Expensive. Naturally.
A Serbian bootleg version released in 1988 was titled Skupo Prodaj Svoju Kozu (Sell Your Skin At High Price). The Spanish version is The Glass Jungle.
2. The movie was originally supposed to be a sequel to the 1985 flick, Commando. The film never fleshed out with Arnold (terrorists can only kidnap Alyssa Milano so many times) and Bruce Willis took over.
3. The Nakatomi Tower that’s overtaken by terrorists is actually 20th Century Fox’s headquarters. One would think that filming in your own office would be a smart way to trim the budget. Then again, this is Hollywood we’re talking about — an industry that spent money to make Jack and Jill. The studio charged themselves rent to film there.
4. The Hans Gruber-Bill Clay scene was added to the script after shooting had already begun. Producers wanted a way for McClane and Gruber to meet prior to the climax and added it in after hearing Rickman’s American accent. Just who is this so-called Bill Clay person though…
5. Bruce Willis wasn’t on the original poster. The idea of a movie poster with a skyscraper exploding in a post 9-11 world would fly about as well as Alabama losing another Iron Bowl. Back in 1985 though, exploding buildings were all the rage and Bruce Willis was just another television actor. The studio had concerns that his image might prevent box office success, because he wasn’t a movie star.
6. As iconic as Bruce Willis screaming “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf**cker!” is, he wasn’t the first choice for the role. The role was passed from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere, and Harrison Ford before Willis got it. Yea, Richard Gere could have been John McClane. Weird.
7. The movie’s concept dates back to the 1960s and has connections with Frank Sinatra. The story of Die Hard is based on the book “Nothing Last Forever” by Roderick Thorpe. The book serves as sequel to “The Detective” which was made into a movie in 1968 starring Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. Sinatra’s contract for the film gave him the right to reprise his role should The Detective sequel ever get made.
Considering that Sinatra was 73-years-old at the time of Die Hard’s filming, he would have been a little old to be rolling around in broken glass.
8. Clint Eastwood owned the rights to “Nothing Last Forever” at the time. Eastwood had considered himself for the role in the early 1980s, but for whatever reason, nothing came of it. Personally, I think Clint could have done a great job in the part, but the movie would have probably lacked the sense of humor that Bruce Willis brought to John McClane.
9. McClane falling down that elevator shaft was actually a mistake. The stuntman was supposed to grab the first vent as written in the script, but slipped and continued to fall down the shaft. No point in wasting good footage though, right? The footage was kept and edited together with McClane grabbing the next vent down.
10. Alan Rickman couldn’t stop flinching during the shootouts. Rickman was a stage actor before joining the movie’s cast and one thing that Shakespearean actors don’t normally do is fire Uzis. Director John McTiernan was forced to cut away from Hans Gruber’s face almost every time he fired a gun because of Rickman’s constant wincing.