20th Century Fox
It's been 25 years since we were first held hostage with an ass-kicking Bruce Willis on Christmas Eve in "Die Hard," a film that's as fresh and awesome as it was when it first hit theaters (in limited release on July 15, 1988, and nationwide on July 22). Five films and 71 kills later, John McClane is still one of our favorite cop heros.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the action classic, we're letting you in on 25 trivia facts about the film. From the unexpected origin of "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!" to Reginald VelJohnson's Twinkie attacks, "Die Hard" is full of fun facts that you probably never knew, even after a hundred viewings (don't deny it).
1. "Die Hard" was Alan Rickman's feature film debut. That's right, Professor Snape, who's set to play Ronald Reagan in the upcoming film "The Butler," was first introduced to the big screen as the infamous Hans Gruber.
2. Rickman was discovered for the part of Gruber by producer Joel Silver and director John McTiernan when they saw him in a 1987 performance of the play "Dangerous Liaisons."
3. The addresses and phone numbers depicted on the LAPD dispatch's computer for Nakatomi Plaza are the actual numbers for management of Fox Plaza, where the film was shot.
4. Due to the tourist interest in Fox Plaza in L.A., people are now forbidden from taking photos outside the building.
5. Director John McTiernan was originally going to make "Commando 2," but Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down the role. McTiernan then set his sights on "Die Hard." Schwarzenegger was the first actor who was offered the role of McClane, but he again declined. The role was then offered to Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, and Richard Gere before Willis nabbed it.
6. The German that Rickman's Hans Gruber speaks in the film is, for the most part, grammatically incorrect and meaningless.
7. While it seems like guns are blasting non-stop in "Die Hard," a full 18 minutes elapse before the first gunshot is fired.
8. To add to the realism of the film, McTiernan had special, extra-loud blanks made. In the scene where McClane kills a terrorist by shooting him through the bottom of a table, the special blanks ended up causing permanent hearing loss for Bruce Willis.
9. In the film, Deputy Chief Robinson (Paul Gleason) says that McClane (Willis) "could be a f*cking bartender for all we know" because of McClane's claim to be able to "spot a phony ID." Coincidentally, prior to acting, Willis was a bartender.
10. "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!" is said in all five "Die Hard" movies. Willis recently shared that it originated as a joke: "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."
11. On the special features of the "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" DVD, Reginald VelJohnson, who plays Sgt. Powell, said that after his appearances in the first two "Die Hard" films, he would frequently be teased for his character's obsession with Twinkies. Some people would go as far as to throw Twinkies into his car while he was inside, saying things like "Oh, we knew you wanted some of those."
12. Bruce Willis received a then-unheard-of $5 million for the film, a fee that was approved by Fox President Rupert Murdoch.
13. "Die Hard" was based on Roderick Thorp's book "Nothing Lasts Forever," the sequel to his novel "The Detective," which was made into a 1968 film starring Frank Sinatra. Since a clause in Sinatra's contract gave him the right to reprise his role in a sequel, he was the first person offered the role of McClane even though he was 73 years old at the time. Coincidentally, Willis made his feature film debut in "The First Deadly Sin," walking out of a bar as Sinatra walked into it.
14. In the version of "Die Hard" released in Germany, the terrorists are not specified as German, but are said to be "from Europe."
15. At the suggestion of McTiernan, Beethoven's Ode to Joy from "Symphony No. 9" became the musical theme of the terrorists, and eventually all the "Die Hard" films. Hans Gruber even hums it at one point in "Die Hard" while he is on the elevator with Mr. Takagi (James Shigeta). McTiernan wanted to use it since it had been the theme of the ultra-violence depicted in Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange."
16. The scene where Willis and Rickman meet up atop the Nakatomi Tower was unrehearsed to create a greater feeling of spontaneity between the two actors.
17. Ever notice how you hardly ever see Rickman's face when he shoots a gun? Director John McTiernan found it necessary to smash cut away from Hans Gruber's face whenever he fired a gun because Rickman had an uncontrollable habit of flinching from the noise and muzzle flash. If you watch Rickman closely when he shoots Mr. Takagi, you can see him slightly wincing.
18. Sam Neill turned down the role of Hans Gruber.
19. It is often said that Bruce Willis's lines during the scene where he pulls the glass out of his feet were ad-libbed. It is also said that upon learning this, Terry Gilliam cast Willis as the lead in his "Twelve Monkeys." However, when comparing the scene to the original script it appears that Willis only veered slightly from what was originally written.
20. Bruce Willis was shooting the TV series "Moonlighting" during "Die Hard," which is why most of McClane's scenes take place at night. Willis would shoot the series during the day and then come to the Fox lot in the evening for "Die Hard."
21. Bruce Willis and Demi Moore got married at the Golden Nugget hotel in Las Vegas while "Die Hard" was shooting. Little Richard presided over the ceremony, and actress Ally Sheedy ("The Breakfast Club") was a bridesmaid.
22. Hans Gruber was also the name of an adversary in 1966's "Our Man Flint," starring James Coburn.
23. The Serbian, Croat, and Bosnian translation of the film's title is "Umri Muski," meaning "Die Like a True Man," or, literary, "Die Manly."
24. In the movie, the centerfold that John McClane uses as a point of reference is that of Playboy Playmate Pamela Stein. Another Playboy Playmate, May 1982's Kym Malin, has a small role in the movie as the hostage who is discovered by the terrorists having sex with another partygoer.
25. Hart Bochner's line "Hans... Bubby!" in the film was ad-libbed. Alan Rickman's quizzical reaction was genuine.