Probably the only movie considered to be both an action and a Christmas film, Die Hard continues to be well-loved by the masses.

With it’s three following sequels, there is no doubt that viewers have become avid fans of the franchise, but there are a few things you don’t know.

Check out all of the behind the scenes secrets that producers kept under wraps…

Nakatomi Plaza Is Actually Fox Plaza

That’s right, 20th Century Fox’s headquarters became the perfect studio location for Die Hard and since the building was still under construction, it didn’t take much to make it look like mad men were running round destroying it.

 A Well-Timed Pregnancy Meant That Willis Could Accept The Role

Since other projects often clashed with Bruce Willis’ commitments to Moonlighting, the star was elated when his co-star Cybill Shepard fell pregnant. Since this wouldn’t work within the show, producer Glenn Caron gave everyone 11 weeks off which meant that Willis could commit to Die Hard.

It Was Willis Who Suggested That Bonnie Bedilia Play His Wife In The Film

It seemed that producers trusted his opinion since the actress was in fact cast as his on-screen wife.

Bruce Willis Was Paid $5 Million To Star In The Movie

Regardless of whether producers thought he could pull off the action role, he was paid this hefty sum to star in the film. This was an amazing figure at the time, reserved for Hollywood’s most elite actors.

Bruce Willis Was Hardly In The Movie Posters

Since producers didn’t know whether potential viewers would be interested in an action film starring Bruce Willis who was considered a comedic actor, they focused on the Nakatomi Plaza instead. When the film gained traction, the marketing team altered the posters to focus on Willis.

Bruce Willis Was Considered A Comedic Actor At The Time

Producers thought that Willis wouldn’t be fit for the action role because of his previous work in comedy but they were obviously pleasantly surprised! After Die Hard became an international hit, Willis became a bonafide action star.

Die Hard Was Definitely Not Meant To Be A Sequel To Commando

Although this was a very popular internet rumour,  Stephen de Souza who was the screen writer for both Die Hard and Commando stated that the only similarities between the films is that they are both set in buildings.

Clint Eastwood Originally Wanted The Lead Role

This was because for many years the actor and director had the rights to Nothing Lasts Forever, which he had wanted to star in in the early 1980’s however, for some reason this didn’t happen.

The Film Was Actually Based On A Book

That’s right, this tense action movie was actually based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 crime novel Nothing Lasts Forever which was the sequel to his 1966 novel The Detective.

The Book Was Actually Based On A Film Though – Woah…

After Thorp watched John Guillermin’s film The Towering Inferno, he had a dream about a man being chased through skyscraper by a group of men with guns – he expanded on this little snippet of a story to create Nothing Lasts Forever.

Frank Sinatra Was Originally Offered The Role Of John McClane

This was because he had originally starred in the screen adaptation of The Detective but at the age of 73, the superstar singer/actor wisely turned down the role.

Bruce Willis’ First On-Screen Debut Was Actually With Frank Sinatra

Even though his character was uncredited, Willis’ first acting role was in the 1980 movie The First Deadly Sin where he was required to walk into a diner as Frank Sinatra’s character was walking out.

Die Hard Earned It’s Own Franchise

With four sequels, video games and even comic books – you could say that this action movie has become quite the success.

The Panoramic View Of The City Isn’t Actually Real

The stunning city view was actually created by 380-foot-long background painting that could be used for day and night scenes, was equipped with animated lights and moving traffic. The piece is state of the art and has been used in various other productions since.

Bruce Willis Wasn’t Even The Studio’s Third Choice For The Lead Role

Producers thought that to ensure Die Hard‘s success, they would need an already world renowned action star to play John McClane, rumour has it that they asked the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro, Charles Bronson, Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Don Johnson, Burt Reynolds, and Richard Dean Anderson but they all declined the offer.

The Room Where The Hostages Were Being Held Was Literally Meant To Be Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Production Designer Jackson De Govia stated in the Die Hard audio commentary: “In this period, Japanese corporations were buying America. We posited that … Nakatami Corporation bought Falling Water, disassembled it, and reassembled it in the atrium, like a trophy.”

John McTiernan Was Inspired By A Shakespeare Play

The original screenplay depicted that the action in the skyscraper would take place over the course of a few days but director McTiernan was inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and had the film take place in a single evening.

John McTiernan Turned Down The Film Multiple Times

According to him, the screenplay was simply too dark and cynical. In an interview with Empire magazine he stated, “The original screenplay was a grim terrorist movie. On my second week working on it, I said, ‘Guys, there’s no part of terrorism that’s fun. Robbers are fun bad guys. Let’s make this a date movie.’ And they had the courage to do it.”

Sam Neill Was Originally Approached For The Role Of Hans Gruber

However, the star turned down the offer. It wasn’t until the casting director saw Alan Rickman star as Valmont in the 1987 stage production of Dangerous Liaisons that they found the perfect actor to play Hans.

 Die Hard Was Alan Rickman’s Feature Film Debut

Which is a total surprise since he absolutely killed the part of Hans Gruber – as we all know, the late, great actor went on to do great things with his career.


The most notable line from the film has to be “Yippee-ki-yay motherf***er” which has actually been used in Die Hard‘s following three sequels.

The Famous Line Was Created By Bruce Willis

In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Willis stated that “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!” was actually meant to be a joke take. He said,  “It was a throwaway, I was just trying to crack up the crew and I never thought it was going to be allowed to stay in the film.”

You Can Actually View John McClane’s Sweaty Tank Top

Image Source: Getty Images

That’s right – in 2007 Bruce Willis donated the sweaty, bloodstained piece of his costume to the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian.

Bruce Willis Had Four Feet?

Since John McClane spends a lot of his time throughout the film running barefoot through broken glass, Bruce Willis was given a pair of rubber feet for his own safety. Apparently, you can actually see the fake feet during the film!

Hans Gruber Wasn’t Actually Speaking German

In fact, most of his German cohorts weren’t German either! Bruce Willis on the other hand was actually born in West Germany to a German mother and an American father.

The Director Wasn’t Happy With Alan Rickman’s American Accent

The scene in which Hans Gruber poses as another escaping hostage meant that the British actor would have to fake an American accent. McTiernan wasn’t at all happy with Rickman’s performance, stating, “I still hear Alan Rickman’s English accent. I was never quite happy with the way he opened his mouth [in that scene] . . . I shot it three times trying to get him to sound more stridently American … it’s odd for someone who has such enormous verbal skills; he just had terrible trouble getting an American accent.”

Alan Rickman Wasn’t Fond Of Guns

Since the actor would flinch whenever he had to shoot a gun, McTiernan was forced to cut away from his face so his reaction wasn’t caught on film.

Bruce Willis Suffered Permanent Hearing Loss

Since John McTiernan was looking for hyper-realism throughout the film. He had the gun blanks in the film modified to make them extra loud. During one scene when John McClane shoots a terrorist through a table, Bruce Willis was in such a close proximity to the gun, it caused permanent hearing loss. He referenced the injury in in an interview with The Guardian, “Due to an accident on the first Die Hard, I suffer two-thirds partial hearing loss in my left ear and have a tendency to say, ‘Whaaa?’”

Alan Rickman’s Death Scene Was Actually Scary

During the filming of Hans Gruber’s death scene, Alan Rickman was required to fall 20 feet onto an airbag whilst holding onto a stuntman. However, to get a real horrified reaction from Rickman, they dropped him on the count of “2” instead of “3.”

John McClanes Tumble Down A Ventilation Shaft Wasn’t Meant To Happen

When Bruce Willis’ stunt double was jumps into an elevator shaft, he was meant to grab onto the first vent but he missed – by a lot! This made for some even more amazing footage that editor Frank J. Urioste decided to keep in the final cut.