MOTW: 5 Facts About "Die Hard"

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NYPD Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) becomes the only hope for a small group of hostages, one of whom is his estranged wife, trapped in a high-rise L.A. office building that's been seized by a group of terrorists on Christmas Eve. At the helm of the heist is evil mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Based on a novel by Roderick Thorp and directed by John McTiernan, Die Hard is the first of five films in the ultra successful action series.
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
January 29th, 2013

MRR's Movie of the Week: 5 Facts About "Die Hard"

When it comes to classic action movies, few are more popular than "Die Hard." Released in 1988, it has become one of the most famous action movies, and some have even ventured to call it the most important action film of all time. "Die Hard" also rocketed Bruce Willis into the ranks of the Hollywood elite and set him on the path to a long movie career. Supporting actors Alan Rickman and Reginald VelJohnson also built successful careers after appearing in the film. Despite its popularity, there are several interesting facts about the film that even fans might not know.

Incoherent Terrorists

The terrorists in the film are supposed to be from Germany, but the actual lines they speak in the film are complete gibberish. The dialogue is so bad that the version of "Die Hard" that was released in Germany uses the term European to refer to the terrorists to avoid upsetting anyone. Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman, has most of the grammatically incorrect lines in the film. The German version of the film also changes Hans Gruber's name to Jack Gruber and alters the backstory for the villains; they are referred to as Irish terrorists-for-hire in this version of the film.

John McClane Candidates

Bruce Willis was not the only actor considered for the role of John McClane. Don Johnson of "Miami Vice" and Richard Dean Anderson of "MacGyver" were also considered for the part and were both popular choices for the action film because of their famous television roles. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were approached, but both actors had other project scheduled that conflicted with the filming schedule. Richard Gere was even considered for the role, though it is hard for many fans to picture him as McClane. Other names considered for the part include Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Robert DeNiro, and Burt Reynolds. Willis accepted the role after six other actors rejected it. Given the caliber of some of the names on the list, Willis was a relative unknown at the time.

Real-Life Moonlighting

During the filming of "Die Hard," Bruce Willis was still filming his popular television show, "Moonlighting." Until "Die Hard" was released, the role on "Moonlighting" was his main claim to fame in Hollywood. In order to be able to film both projects at the same time, Willis worked on his television show during the day and shot "Die Hard" at night. This is the main reason why nearly all of the shots of him take place at night. Given the well-documented arguments that Willis had with his "Moonlighting" costar, Cybill Shepherd, fighting terrorists barefoot might have seemed like a much easier task.

"Shoot the Glass"

Bruce Willis is barefoot throughout the film, as his character does not have time to put shoes on before sneaking away from the terrorists. His character is forced to move across broken glass after the terrorists shoot out several windows, knowing that the hero is not wearing any shoes. Alan Rickman's command to his henchmen, "Shoot the glass," is arguably one of the most famous lines from the film. In order to capture moving across the glass, Willis actually had to wear special rubber shoes that were crafted to look like feet. It is also said that Willis ad-libbed much of the phone conversation between his character and Reginald VelJohnson's while McClane is picking glass out of his foot.

A Beloved Christmas Movie

There aren't many action films that also make the list of top Christmas films, but "Die Hard" is definitely on the list. Much like "It's a Wonderful Life," John McClane's tale of triumph over evil is shown on Christmas every year. There is some debate over whether "Die Hard" can truly be considered a holiday film, but fans argue that the Christmas music and holiday imagery are enough to qualify the film as a beloved holiday tradition. Another point that fans make is that the hostages in the film are attending a Christmas party as the film begins. Some writers and bloggers have even suggested that "Die Hard" is the best Christmas film ever made.

Whether people will ever agree that "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie, there is no doubt that it is one of the most popular action films ever made. Bruce Willis built his career off of the success of the film. Other action film directors and actors have tried to copy the movie's success, but for true fans, the "Die Hard" franchise stands apart from the rest.