Warning: This article contains spoilers about Die Hard.
Given its huge impact on pop culture, there aren’t many secrets left to reveal about the making of the 1988 action flick Die Hard. But Netflix’s new series The Movies That Made Us does offer up a few fun reminders about the 20th Century Fox movie that turned Bruce Willis into a box office behemoth.
John McClane was almost a member of the Rat Pack
Producer Joel Silver was legally obligated to offer the role of John McClane to Frank Sinatra since the script was originally commissioned as a sequel to The Detective, a 1968 thriller that starred ol’ blue eyes. Not only did Sinatra say no to Die Hard (thank goodness), but so did many other Tinseltown biggies like Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Gere, Burt Reynolds, and James Caan. Willis was eventually cast but only after Fox agreed to pay him $5 million – an unprecedented windfall back in those days.
They had to be extra quiet on the set
Since Fox Plaza – which doubled as Nakatomi Tower in the movie – was a functional office building, the producers couldn’t make loud noises in the building until after 5 p.m. on weekdays so as to not disturb the lawyers on the 25thfloor.
The director chose to ignore a slipup
Remember when we first see terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his crew walk out of the truck in the Nakatomi garage? We never see the ambulance that was supposedly parked inside the truck, even though a terrorist uses it later as a getaway car. The snafu was discovered in an early screening but director John McTiernan chose to ignore it.
One stunt got way too real
The scene where John (Willis) slips down an elevator shaft in an attempt to escape the terrorists features actual footage of a stuntman who lost his grip. Gulp!
It wasn’t just good acting that made Hans Gruber’s plunge look so scary
The terrified look on Rickman’s face was real when his character drops to his death at the end of the movie. To create the climactic moment, Rickman was told he would be given a 3, 2, 1 countdown before he was pushed off a 40-foot piece of scaffolding onto an airbag. But the stunt coordinator released him after only “3,” instead.
The Movies That Made Us is streaming now on Netflix.