The success of Die Hard has resulted in a big trivia of information, for future action films and for those fans eager to know learn more about the franchise. Below is the ever growing trivia of the original film.


  • The scene in which Gruber and McClane meet was inserted into the script after Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber) was found to be proficient at mimicking American accents. The filmmakers had been looking for a way to have the two characters meet prior to the climax and capitalized on Rickman's talent.
  • The original release poster for the film did not feature Bruce Willis' likeness, just the building (pre-release promo posters did show Willis). The producers originally thought it might deter non-Willis fans from seeing the movie. Posters were later altered after the early box office success.
  • The addresses and phone numbers depicted on the LAPD dispatch's computer for the Nakatomi plaza management are the actual numbers for management of Fox Plaza, where the film was shot.
  • The German that the terrorists speak is sometimes grammatically incorrect and meaningless. In the German version of the film, the terrorists are not from Germany but from "Europe". This has been fixed for the Special Edition VHS and later home video releases. The only instances of incorrect use of German are Alan Rickman's (Hans Gruber) lines.
  • Deputy Chief Robinson says that John McClane (Bruce Willis) "could be a fucking bartender for all we know" (because of McClane's claim to be able to "spot a phony ID"). Prior to becoming a well-known actor, Willis was a bartender.
  • In the German version the names and backgrounds of the German-born terrorists were changed into English forms (mostly into their British equivalents): Hans Gruber became Jack Gruber, Karl became Charlie, Heinrich turned into Henry etc... the new background depicted them as radical Irish activists having gone freelance and for profit rather than ideals. (This led to some odd plot holes in this movie and continuity problems with Die Hard with a Vengeance where Gruber is remembered as having been German.) This was because German terrorism, especially by the Rote Armee Fraktion (the Red Army Faction), was still considered a sensitive issue by the German government in the 1980s.
  • The terrorists arrive in a truck that is green with a white top with "Pacific Courier" on the side. Ironically, "Pacific Courier" translates to mean "Bringer of Peace". It is also the name of an actual delivery company.
  • This was based on a book by Roderick Thorp entitled "Nothing Lasts Forever" - a sequel to another book entitled "The Detective", which in 1968 was made into a film starring Frank Sinatra. Because of a clause in Sinatra's contract for "The Detective" which gave him the right to reprise his role in a sequel, he was actually the first person offered the McClane role, even though he was 73 years old at the time. Also, Coincidentally, Bruce Willis made his movie debut in The First Deadly Sin walking out of a bar as Sinatra walks into it.
  • Bruce Willis received a then unheard of $5 million, a fee that was okayed by Fox President Rupert Murdoch.
  • Television stars Don Johnson and Richard Dean Anderson were all considered for the role of John McClane.
  • The scene where McClane falls down a shaft was a mistake by the stuntman, who was supposed to grab the first vent, as it originally was planned. He slipped and continued to fall, but the shot was used anyway; it was edited together with one where McClane grabs the next vent down as he falls.
  • Director John McTiernan found it necessary to smash cut away from Hans Gruber's face whenever he fired a gun, because of Alan Rickman's uncontrollable habit of flinching from the noise and muzzle flash. If you look at Rickman's face when he shoots Takagi, you can see him wincing.
  • It is often said that Bruce Willis's lines during the scene when he pulls the glass out of his feet were ad-libbed. Indeed it has been said that upon learning this, Terry Gilliam cast Willis as the lead in Twelve Monkeys. However when comparing the original script, it appears that Willis only veered very slightly from the original written dialog.
  • Due to the tourist interest in the Fox Plaza building in L.A., people are now forbidden from taking photos outside the building.
  • The building used in the movie was designed by William L. Pereira, and was one of his last projects before his death in 1985.
  • The odd-looking gun that Karl uses in the film is a Steyr AUG, an Austrian bullpup 5.56mm assault rifle designed in the early 1970s by Steyr Mannlicher GmbH & Co KG.
  • Bruce Willis was the sixth choice for the main character. It originally went to Arnold Schwarzenegger, then Sylvester Stallone, then Burt Reynolds, then Richard Gere, then Harrison Ford, and then Mel Gibson before Willis got it.
  • The title in Spain was translated into "Crystal Jungle", in Poland title was "The Glass Trap". It is worth to notice, that Polish title sounds and fits to this movie very good in Poland, while original title is hard to translate correctly (it would sound like: "It is hard to kill him" or "He dies slowly"). The same titles are used for the sequels (although the meanings have no relation in the sequels).
  • The Hungarian title is "Give your life expensive", the title of the sequel is "Your life is more expensive", and the third part is "The life is always expensive"
  • There are two FBI Agent Johnsons and a Harvey Johnson who were characters in the film. This is an in-joke aimed at co-star Reginald VelJohnson.
  • During the FBI helicopter attack, Special Agent Johnson (Robert Davi) says, "Just like fuckin' Saigon, eh, Slick?" Agent Johnson (Grand L. Bush) replies, "I was in junior high, dick-head." In real life, Davi and Bush are 4 years apart in age.
  • Bruce Willis personally recommended Bonnie Bedelia for the role of his estranged wife.
  • When the bomb in the elevator shaft blows out the side of the building, the effect was accomplished by collecting virtually every camera flashbulb of a particularly powerful type in the Los Angeles area and wiring them on the outside of the actual building to simulate the flash, and (b) by superimposing a shot of an actual explosive blowing a hole in the wall of an all-black miniature of the building at the appropriate location.
  • The fireball in the elevator shaft was shot with real pyrotechnics using a miniature shaft; the camera speed had to vary over the length of the shot because otherwise the fireball would appear to change speed as it moved up the forced-perspective model. The effects people weren't sure exactly at what rate to vary the speed, so they rigged a manual variable-speed control and did several takes changing the speed at different rates and then picked the one that looked best.
  • The films DIrector John McTiernan was originally going to makeCommando 2, but Arnold Schwarzenegger turned the role down. Commando 2 was then transformed into this film; Schwarzenegger was the first actor offered the title role, but he again declined.
  • The bridge shown in Takagi's office is a work of Frank Lloyd Wright for the Bay Area in 1949.
  • In the making-of featurette, director John McTiernan revealed that a vast majority of the exterior shots of the building showing explosions were real, full-scale explosions set off in and around the actual building.
  • The entire Nakatomi building was supposed to be managed by a supercomputer and the scenes where McClane is trapped in an office and Gruber orders the windows to be shot out are supposed to be the computer room. The large dark object is the computer, modeled after an ETA-10 supercomputer. It is a model and a bit larger than the actual computer which was thought to look too small. The fiberglass model was later used by ETA as part of the marketing for the ETA range of supercomputers.
  • Hart Bochner's line "Hans... Bubby!" was ad-libbed. Alan Rickman's quizzical reaction was genuine.
  • The Nakatomi tower is actually the headquarters of 20th Century Fox. The company charged itself rent for the use of the then unfinished building.
  • A full 18 minutes elapse before the movie's first gunshot.
  • Much of the script was improvised due to the constant screenplay tweaks that were being made during filming.
  • Bruce Willis was also shooting Moonlighting concurrently which accounts for why nearly all of McClane's scenes take place at night. Willis would shoot his TV series during the day and then come to the Fox lot in the evening to work on this film.
  • John McTiernan turned the script down several times. He felt it was a nasty piece of work. When he was finally persuaded to take on the assignment, he was able to lighten some of the film's darker edges.
  • The scene where Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman meet up was unrehearsed to create a greater feeling of spontaneity between the two actors.
  • At the suggestion of director John McTiernan, Ludwig van Beethoven's Ode to Joy (Ninth Symphony, Fourth Movement) is the musical theme of the terrorists. Hans Gruber, the terrorist leader, even hums it at one point in the movie (while he is on the elevator with Mr. Takagi). Film composer Michael Kamen at first thought it was a "sacrilege" to use Beethoven in an action movie, telling McTiernan: "I will make mincemeat out of Wagner or Strauss for you, but why Beethoven?" McTiernan replied that Ode to Joy had been the theme of the ultra-violence in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Kamen, a Kubrick fan, then agreed.
  • In the spring of 1987, producer Joel Silver and director John McTiernan attended a performance of the play Dangerous Liaisons, in which Alan Rickman played the evil Vicomte de Valmont. Immediately, Silver and McTiernan realized they had found Hans Gruber.
  • In the scenes where John McClane is required to run through a multitude of glass shards in his 'bare' feet after Hans has his men shoot out the glass partitions in the computer room, Bruce Willis is in fact wearing special 'rubber' shoes designed to look like his own bare feet. One can in fact see this if looking closely as his feet appear quite unnaturally large in some of these crucial 'barefoot' scenes.
  • The firearms used in the film are, as in most action films, real firearms modified to function with blanks. Although modern small arms ammunition is intended to have minimum muzzle flash, director John McTiernan wanted vivid, "exaggerated realism" in the muzzle flashes. Weapons specialist Michael Papac hand fabricated some blanks that were so powerful that the standard firearms modifications weren't workable. Papac had to specially modify the firearms involved. Special effects coordinator Al Di Sarro said of these blanks that 'in the world of blanks, there are loads that are not so loud and loads that are deafening', and these were deafening. These blanks did cause some cast members, notably Alan Rickman, to flinch. Furthermore, normally most sound effects come from a studio library of sound effects. Sound designer Richard Shorr didn't want to use these clips as modern sound equipment would show their age, as some of them were recorded in the 1950s at the time. To resolve this and further the "exaggerated realism", the sound crew took the appropriate firearms to a firing range in Texas and recorded them being fired with live ammunition.
  • Bruce Willis took the role of John McClane after it had been turned down by Robert De Niro. Willis had just been turned down to play the Charles Grodin role opposite De Niro in Midnight Run. Ironically both films eventually opened the same weekend.
  • The Serbian, Croat and Bosnian translation of the title is "Umri Muski" ("Die Like A True Man"; literary: "Die Manly" ). The pirated VHS translation back in 1988 was "Skupo Prodaj Svoju Kozu" ("Sell Your Skin At High Price").
  • There are two references to the Japanese naval attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941. The first occurs when John McClane questions whether the Japanese celebrate Christmas. Takagi replies "We're flexible, Pearl Harbor didn't work out so we got you with tape decks". The second is the breaking of the code key for the vault. The password "Akagi" (Red Castle in English) is the name of one of the Japanese aircraft carriers which carried out the strike on Pearl Harbor.
  • Only a couple of the actors who played the German terrorists were actually German and only a couple more could speak broken German. All of the 12 actors were cast for their menacing appearances rather than their nationality, 9 of which were over 6 feet tall.
  • Nick Nolte was the first one to turn down the lead.
  • In Nakatomi building's caveau is supposed to be kept, amongst other pieces of art, the Edgar Degas' painting "Ecole de dance" (1873) (as shown when the "terrorists" finally break the last lock). Actually, it's in Corcoran Museum of Arts in Washington DC.
  • This movie, set during Christmas time in Los Angeles, has the lead terrorist named Hans Gruber. The Christmas Carol "Silent Night" was composed in Salzburg, Austria by Franz Gruber, a school teacher and church organist. He wrote the melody for a guitar arrangement at the request of the 6-stanza poem's author Fr. Joseph Mohr, a Roman Catholic priest and assistant pastor at St. Nicholas Church, who wrote it in 1816. Mohr and Gruber first sang the song "Stille Nacht" at midnight mass on December 24, 1818, while Mohr played his guitar.
  • The character of Hans Gruber is rumored to be based on author Roderick Thorp's father, a known tyrant amongst friends and family.When talking to Powell on CB, McClane tells him, "They have missiles, automatic weapons and enough plastic explosives to orbit Arnold Schwarzenegger." Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally considered for the role of McClane. Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, who are now both known for making action movies with a dark humor, later became good friends.
  • In the "Making of" Featurette for Die Hard with a Vengeance, Reginald VelJohnson said that after his appearances in the first two Die Hard films, he would be frequently teased and joked at by friends and people on the street for his character's obsession of Twinkies, with some people even going so far as to buy twinkies and throwing them into his car while he was inside, and saying things like "Oh we knew you wanted some of those".
  • The centerfold that John McClane sees and ultimately uses as a point of reference while navigating his way from the elevator shaft to the air vent is that of Playboy Playmate Pamela Stein (Nov. 1987).
  • The office interiors were designed to resemble Fallingwater, a house designed by architect Frank Llloyd Wright.
  • Tom Berenger turned down the role of John McClane.
  • The LAPD officer who gives medical attention to Sgt. Powell following the terrorists shooting up his car is actor Anthony Peck, who also plays NYPD Detective Ricky Walsh in Die Hard with a Vengeance.
  • During this shoot, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore tied the knot at the Golden Nugget hotel in Las Vegas, after Moore having recently broke her engagement to actor Emilio Estevez. Little Richard presided over the ceremony and former brat packer Ally Sheedy was a bridesmaid.
  • Hans Gruber was also the name of an adversary in Our Man Flint with James Coburn. It is also the R all name of a Canadian Rugby player.
  • When they first meet Takagi, he tells John McClane that 'Pearl Harbour didn't work out so we hit you with stereos'. James Shigeta who played Takagi also played Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, one of the architects of the attack on Pearl Harbour in the film The Battle of Midway.

Director TrademarkEdit

  • John McTiernan: [teddy bear] McClane has a teddy bear for his family. Jack Ryan takes a teddy bear home with him at the end of The Hunt for Red October (it's the same bear)


  • For the shot where Hans Gruber falls from the top of the building, Alan Rickman was actually falling from a 21-foot high model. He was holding on to a stunt man and falling on to an air bag. To get the right reaction, the stunt man dropped Rickman on the count of two, not three.
  • The music cue when Powell shoots Karl at the end of the film was actually an unused track from James Horner's Academy Award-nominated score for Aliens, another Fox film. Specifically, the music was originally intended for a scene near the end of the film, in which Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) battles with the alien queen on board the Sulaco. Instead, an earlier music cue was reused, leaving the cue available for this film. A second music cue, scored by John Scott for the film Man on Fire, was also used. The music can be heard when McClane and Holly meet Powell at the end of the movie.
  • The Roderick Thorp book "Nothing Lasts Forever," serves as the basis for this movie. Surprisingly few of the book's details were changed for the film. Originally, a much older Leland (changed to McClane) was visiting his daughter, Steffie Leland Gennaro, who worked for the Klaxxon oil company. Takagi was originally a VP of sales named Rivers. Harry Ellis, Al Powell, and Dwayne Robinson were essentially the same, but the FBI was not involved. Hans Gruber was originally Anton "Little Tony" Gruber, while Hans was Karl's brother. The purpose of the terrorist takeover was to allow the West German radical group to uncover an illegal arms shipment Klaxxon was making to a Chilean dictatorship. Finally, in the end scene (which was Christmas morning at 10 AM), Anton Gruber is shot by Leland and falls out the window, also catching a finger on Gennaro's watch, but in this case he pulls her out the window to her death.
  • The original script called for terrorists to hijack the building, and for a super-hero cop to stop them. Director John McTiernan modified the script to change the bad guys into robbers pretending to be terrorists so that the audience could enjoy their intention of grabbing a load of money. He felt having terrorists as the villains would make the movie less enjoyable and give it a political angle, which he wanted to avoid. McTiernan also changed the hero, John McClane, into an everyday, flawed man that rises to the occasion in dire circumstances. He felt the audience would identify more with him than with a "super-cop".
  • On-screen body count: 22. These include (in order) both Nakatomi security guards, Takagi, Tony, Heinrich, Marco, the 2 SWAT team members in the 'R.V.' that is blown up with the RPG, James and Alexander (both blown up at the same time), Ellis, Franco, Fritz, Uli, both agent Johnsons and the 3 other guys on the chopper, Eddie, Hans and Karl. 10 of these characters are killed by John McClane.

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