Well, Life’d readers, we think it’s a good day to die hard, don’t you? In celebration of the fifth film in the action movie franchise that has grossed a combined worldwide total of $1.13 billion, we are taking advantage of this occasion to revisit the entire series up to the present. Look over our 25 Facts You May Not Have Known About Die Hard, and tell us what you think. (Oh yeah, and this is also the 25th Anniversary of the original film. See what we did there?)
Once you’re finished here, make sure you break out the discs and give them another spin.
Die Hard (1988)
1. If you’re watching the film in the Hindu language of Urdu – and come on, hasn’t everyone? – the iconic line, “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf***er,” doesn’t hold the same meaning. The direct translation is, “Here, eat this.” If you think that’s bad, in Hungary the film’s translated title is “Give your life expensive.” (Parts two and three are “Your life is more expensive” and “The life is always expensive.”) Not quite the same effect, huh?
2. The original Die Hard has a connection to another thriller, The First Deadly Sin, which you may not have heard about. Frank Sinatra starred in the earlier film with Bruce Willis playing a young guy walking out of a bar that Ol’ Blue Eyes is walking in to. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene, but significant in two regards. 1) Willis debuted in this film. 2) The star, Sinatra, was offered the lead in Die Hard at the age of 73 prior to Willis landing the role.
3. Continuing from No. 2 and the reason Sinatra was offered the role before Willis: Die Hard is based on a novel entitled Nothing Lasts Forever. The novel is a sequel to author Roderick Thorp’s previous Joe Leland bestseller The Detective. The film version of The Detective starred Sinatra, who had a stipulation in his contract to right of first refusal should a sequel ever be filmed. When Nothing Lasts Forever was green-lit, Sinatra was by contract the first choice for the part.
4. McClane character was originally intended to be an older man, thus Sinatra’s involvement wouldn’t have been as odd as one might expect.
5. Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Dead Bang) and Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver) were all considered along with Willis for the role, but none of these men were the first options. Willis was actually the seventh man on the list with more popular stars of the day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson, getting offers to star.
6. Tom Berenger, Nick Nolte and Robert De Niro were also rumored to have turned down the role, and Charles Bronson was considered but his contract with a rival company ruled him out.
7. While the original Die Hard has much in common with its literary version – even many of the big action set-pieces – it also has some Commando 2 residue lingering about. That’s because director John McTiernan had developed the adaptation as a vehicle for Schwarzenegger, who didn’t end up wanting the part. Rather than continuing with the Commando 2 idea, McTiernan ended up producing one of the most successful action movie franchises of all time. Not a bad alternative.
8. The first film’s villain Hans Gruber (played in Die Hard by Alan Rickman) was also the name of a villain in the James Coburn spy series Our Man Flint. We’re thinking they’re probably unrelated, though, but still: don’t name your child Hans, okay?
9. The original script calls for Die Hard to be a superhero movie. The McClane character played by Willis is a cop with superpowers. McTiernan (rightly) decided the movie would be more effective if the audience could identify with their hero, and so the superhero angle was completely removed from the film.
10. Twenty two people die in the original film. McClane kills 10 of them. Pretty tame compared to the sequel in which 37 die and the third film in which 27 check out permanently. Live Free or Die Hard stamped death certificates for 23.
Die Hard 2 (1990)
11. Die Hard 2 has an even stronger tie to Commando. The villainous character of “The General” is from Valverde, a made-up country used in Schwarzenegger’s action vehicle.
12. Like its predecessor, Die Hard 2 was based on a novel – just not a novel by the same writer or starring any of the same characters. The book 58 Minutes by Walter Wager was the inspiration for this second entry in the John McClane saga.
13. Though DH2 is a pretty solid action flick in our opinion, Willis has gone on record stating that it is his least favorite in the series.
Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
14. Die Hard: With a Vengeance was the only entry in the series until A Good Day to Die Hard that would be based on an original screenplay. Live Free or Die Hard took its inspiration from an article written by John Carlin for Wired magazine. The article is entitled, “A Farewell to Arms.”
15. DH:WAV was based on a screenplay entitled “Simon Says” that was originally planned as Lethal Weapon 4. In retrospect, we sort of wish they’d gone through with it. Just okay as a Die Hard movie, it would have been a lot more fun to see Riggs and Murtaugh’s handling of this bad guy, don’t you think?
16. The infamous scene of Willis being forced to wear a board that states, “I Hate N***ers!” is often edited in TV versions to read, “I Hate Everybody.” The edited version is actually what Willis wore during filming with the more racially offensive message being added in post-production.
17. The original choice for Hans’s vengeful brother Simon was Sean Connery, but the former 007 was not interested in stepping into such a villainous role, so the part went to Jeremy Irons instead.
18. Spoiler Alert, Spoiler Alert!! The ending of DH:WAV mirrors that of the original film in the sense that McClane faces off against the brother of the original villain. In both scenes, Willis has only two bullets left to do his worst.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
19. Live Free or Die Hard is the only PG-13 film in the Die Hard series, but if you need your R-rated fix, there is an unrated version with more profanity and violence. Watch that instead!
20. McClane’s birthday is May 23, 1955, meaning that he was 52 in this film and close to 58 in the latest installment.
21. As with the third entry in the series, the original script for Live Free or Die Hard was written as a separate movie entirely and then fostered into the franchise.
22. In the other three Die Hard films, one location is used to tell the crux of the story. In the first, it’s a building in L.A. In the second, it’s the Washington Dulles International Airport. In the third, it’s New York. But in LFODH, the story unfolds in New Jersey, Baltimore, West Virginia and Washington D.C., making this the most well-traveled of the entire series. It also takes place over several days rather than the one day comprising parts one, two and three.
23. Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, and Taylor Fry, all tried out for the part of McClane’s daughter Lucy. The role went to Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
24. Jai Courtney (Spartacus) plays McClane’s CIA operative son in this, the fifth entry of the series. He beat out Aaron Paul, Milo Ventimiglia, Paul Dano, Liam Hemsworth, and Paul Walker, to name a few, for the part.
25. Winstead reprises her role as Lucy McClane becoming the first star to reprise their role in the series since Die Hard 2.
Have you had a chance to check out the McClane Family Reunion? Let us know what you thought about A Good Day to Die Hard in the comments section below.