ByJonathan Sim, writer at
I'm a writer/film theorist. Check out my articles on Pixar, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, Die Hard, politics, and more!
Jonathan Sim

Die Hard is one of the best film series to ever show up on the big screen. Today, I'm gonna give you 10 amazing facts about Die Hard. So, come out to the coast, we'll have a few laughs.

1. The Film Was Based On Nothing Lasts Forever By Roderick Thorp

[Credit: W. W. Norton & Company]
[Credit: W. W. Norton & Company]

Here's the basic story: Roderick Thorp wrote a book called The Detective, which was later adapted into a movie starring Frank Sinatra. He later wrote a sequel to The Detective called Nothing Lasts Forever, with the intent to make another film sequel. However, Sinatra declined the offer to do another film.

Eventually, the film adaptation for Nothing Lasts Forever became , with several changes. For example:

  • Joe Leland was changed to John McClane
  • Klaxon Oil Corporation was changed to Nakatomi Plaza
  • Stephanie Gennaro (Joe's daughter) was changed to Holly Gennaro (John's wife)
  • Anton "Little Tony" Gruber was changed to Hans Gruber
  • Tony (Karl's younger brother) in the book was named Hans
  • Sgt. Al Powell is older in the film
  • Dwayne Robinson gets killed in the book
  • Mr. Rivers was changed to Mr. Takagi
'Die Hard' [Credit: Fox]
'Die Hard' [Credit: Fox]

Despite the books being sequels, Die Hard is a standalone film and is not a sequel to The Detective.

2. Bruce Willis Accepted The Role Due To A Pregnancy

When Willis was first offered the role, he had to decline since he was the star of a comedy TV series called Moonlighting. However, co-star Cybill Shepherd became pregnant, so production for Moonlighting went on an 11-week hiatus. As a result, Willis was able to accept the role of John McClane.

3. The View Of Los Angeles Through The Window Of Holly's Office Isn't Real

In the shots of Holly's office, we can see out of the window. However, it isn't actually the outdoors that we see. It's a 380-foot-long painting with moving traffic, animated lights and the ability to change from night to day. This painting has been used in other productions since then.

4. When John Fell In The Elevator Shaft, It Was An Accident

In this scene, John tries to jump to the first vent, but falls and catches onto a vent below. A stunt double was used to film the scene, but he accidentally missed the first vent and fell lower. Editor Frank J. Urioste thought the footage was more exciting, so he left it in the final cut.

5. Bruce Willis Received Permanent Partial Hearing Loss During Filming

You may remember this scene where John has to shoot through a table in order to kill one of the terrorists. The gun was firing extra-loud blanks, and it ended up being too close to Willis's face. Willis is now two-thirds deaf in his left ear as a result.

6. Alan Rickman Was Genuinely Scared During His Death Fall

'Die Hard' [Credit: Fox]
'Die Hard' [Credit: Fox]

Rickman was holding onto a stuntman, who would release him to make a 20-foot drop onto an air bag below in order to create the scene where Hans falls out of the building. Rickman was told that he would be dropped on the count of three. However, the stuntman dropped him on two to get a real reaction from him. So, the look on his face in the image above is genuine surprise.

7. Willis Came Up With The Famous Line, 'Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherf**ker!'

Willis states that the line was a throwaway just to make the crew laugh. When he said it, he never expected that the line would end up in the film, let alone end up becoming one of the most famous one-liners in action movie history.

8. The Scene In Which Hans Tricks John With An American Accent Wasn't In The Original Script

The producers of the film wanted John and Hans to meet before the climax, and they came up with the idea for Hans to impersonate an American hostage named Bill Clay after hearing Rickman do an American accent while joking around on set. Director John McTiernan was still displeased with Rickman's accent, saying that you could still slightly hear his English accent. Since they thought of this scene late, it was completely unrehearsed.

9. Rickman Couldn't Stop Flinching When He Fired A Gun

This was Rickman's first film, and he was not used to using a weapon. Therefore, every time he shot someone in the film, he flinched, and the cameras would have to cut away. This is most notable when his character kills Mr. Takagi.

10. The German Spoken In The Film Is Mostly Gibberish

'Die Hard' [Credit: Fox]
'Die Hard' [Credit: Fox]

Despite the terrorists being German, most of the actors portraying the terrorists are not German, and therefore, the German spoken in the film is either gibberish or spoken very poorly.

What is your favorite quote from Die Hard?


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