Die Hard Week: 50 things you probably didn't know about Die Hard


11th February 2013

Everyone loves Die Hard. Personally, I've seen it over three times (four). It's one of those once-in-a-generation iconic action movies that's so kickass you can't help but adore it. But did you know the Die Hard movies are as fascinating as they are explosive? To get Die Hard Week started, here are 50 bits of amazing Die Hard trivia that prove just that.

The first Die Hard movie is based on a book called Nothing Lasts Forever, by author Roderick Thorp. The main character is a retired NYPD detective called Joe Leland, not John McClane, although his daughter still has the surname Gennero and the bad guy is called Anton Gruber. Sergeant Al Powell and Dwayne T Robinson are also in effect.

Nothing Lasts Forever was a sequel to a book called The Detective, which was adapted into a thriller starring Frank Sinatra in 1968. Technically, this means Frank Sinatra was the first person to play the character on screen, although he doesn't call anyone a "motherfucker".

Weirdly, due to a clause in his contract for The Detective, the makers of Die Hard were legally bound to offer Frank Sinatra the lead role of John McClane in 1988, despite the fact the singer was 73 years old at the time and his last movie was a comedy Western called Dirty Dingus Magee.

The 1968 movie adaptation of Roderick Thorp's The Detective also starred actor Lloyd Bochner, whose son Hart would go on to play cinema's biggest jerk, Harry Ellis, in Die Hard in 1988.

The book cover for The Detective is a hilariously shit watercolour of Bruce Willis dressed up like a 1940s gumshoe. Look.

I promise this has not been Photoshopped.

There's a reason the movie is set entirely at night, and it's not just because that's when crime happens. Bruce Willis would shoot TV sitcom Moonlighting during the day, then work on Die Hard through the night. That's right: he was literally moonlighting. Ithangyou.

You probably already know this, but it's too fun not to share. To get the desired terrified reaction for his fatal fall, the stuntman holding Alan Rickman above the drop counted to three to prepare him, but let go on two, resulting in one of the most iconic movie death scenes.

If the teddy bear that John McClane is taking home to his family looks familiar, that's because it's the exact same teddy that Jack Ryan takes home in The Hunt For Red October. Both are directed by John McTiernan.

The Germans radically cut Die Hard and changed the names of Hans and his criminal buddies to make them Irish terrorists. Rickman's character became Jack Gruber, Karl became Charlie and Heinrich became Henry. Just a group of Irish rogues. Who all speak German.

Actors who were considered for the role of John McClane include...

It's cool, Movie 43 was fun too.

Die Hard was Alan Rickman's feature film debut. You can tell it's the first time he's ever had to handle a gun on screen, because he keeps flinching when he fires it. What a pansy.

Sam Neill turned down the role of Hans Gruber as his German accent kept coming off as Jamaican (speculation on our part, there).

Die Hard apparently doesn't translate very well into foreign languages. In Spain, it went by Crystal Jungle. In Poland, it was known as The Glass Trap. In Hungary, it translated into Give Your Life Expensive. Serbians knew it as Die Manly. Russia called it A Hard Nut To Crack. Portugal win the award for most on-the-nose translation, however, with Skyscraper Attack.

John McTiernan, director of Die Hards 1 and 3, is to spend a year in federal prison after lying to the FBI regarding the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping case. The man they call McT allegedly hired private investigator Pellicano to snoop into the affairs of Rollerball producer Charles Roven.

Actors who were considered for the role of John McClane include...

Would you make out with him? Yeah, me neither. Definitely not.

Bruce Willis married Demi Moore during the Die Hard shoot. Bizarrely, the ceremony was presided over by Little Richard. Woooo!

Die Hard 2's villain General Ramon Esperanza (played by original Django actor Franco Nero, fact fans) hails from the land of Val Verde. This fictional South American country was created by writer Steven de Souza and pops up in Commando and Predator, too.

Die Hard 2 originates from the novel 58 Minutes by Walter Wager and was planned to be the story for the sequel to Commando - hence the Val Verde connection. We'd have loved to hear Arnie deliver the line: "What sets off the metal detectors first? The lead in your ass or the shit in your brains?"

The first three Die Hard films feature a reference to war. The first movie sees Nakatomi's Takagi mention Pearl Harbour, Die Hard 2 sees Marvin the Janitor refer to Iwo Jima and an FBI Agent speaks of The Battle Of The Bulge in Die Hard With A Vengeance.

Actors who were considered for the role of John McClane include...


20th Century Fox were sued by Black & Decker after they paid for product placement for their cordless drill in a scene with Bruce Willis. Director Renny Harlin cut the scene, deciding Die Hard 2 did not necessarily need a scene in which John McClane did a quick bit of drilling, cord or no.

John Leguizamo makes a very early appearance in Die Hard 2 as mercenary Burke, but he only has one line. He's joined on henchman duty by Robert Patrick, who would go on to play the T-1000 in Terminator 2.

Die Hard 2 ends with a quick rendition of 'Let It Snow', the exact same tune as hummed by Al Powell in the first Die Hard movie. Coincidence? No, it was probably planned. These things often are.

There's a deleted scene from Die Hard 2 where John McClane tells a dog to shut the fuck up.

There's another deleted scene on the Die Hard 2 DVD that shows John McClane down in the basement tunnels of the airport, where he has to cross a narrow beam over a hot boiler. It was removed and Renny Harlin was chastided for watching too much of The Crystal Maze.

Follow us on Twitter @The_Shiznit for more fun features, film reviews and occasional commentary on what the best type of crisps are.
We are using Patreon to cover our hosting fees. So please consider chucking a few digital pennies our way by clicking on this link. Thanks!

Share This