Today would have been Alan Rickman's 71st birthday, but tragically, the actor passed away in January of 2016. The actor had an acclaimed career full of beloved roles in a variety of movies, including the Harry Potter franchise, Dogma, and Galaxy Quest. Despite those many heroic and charming roles, many fans will always remember him as the terrifying Hans Gruber from Die Hard.
To many, Die Hard is the pinnacle of the action movie genre, causing many movies after it to be described as "Die Hard, but in a..." Director John McTiernan expertly blended humor and murder that turned Bruce Willis, formerly known for his comedic skills, into the seminal "Everyman Thrown into Extreme Circumstances" that made him the action star he is today.
Despite the popularity of the film and its subsequent sequels, there are still some details you might know about the film. In honor of Hans Gruber's legacy, see if you can learn a thing or two about Die Hard!
A Way with Words
When the filmmakers struggled to find an organic way for John McClane (Bruce Willis) and Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) to share a scene with one another before the finale, Rickman showed off his American accent, inspiring the idea that Gruber pretend to be one of the lost partygoers. The scene wasn't rehearsed between the two actors, in hopes of adding to the uncomfortable and impromptu nature of the encounter.
Hart Bachner plays Harry Ellis, a partygoer that seems to have his sights set on McClane's wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). Thinking he can talk some sense into Hans Gruber, Ellis asks for a pow-wow with the terrorist, in which he refers to Hans as "Bubby." The pet name was ad-libbed by Bachner, so Gruber's confused reaction is the genuine reaction of actor Rickman.
Willis was so devoted to the project, he filled his days by shooting the TV series Moonlighting and would head to the Die Hard set to shoot the evenings. His exhaustion from filming both of the shows resulted in giving the supporting cast members beefier roles.prevnext
More German than Germans
The terrorists that overtake the Nakatomi Tower are referred to as German, although of the 12 henchmen, most weren't German and only a couple could speak more than a few lines of broken German. In fact, Bruce Willis was more German than many of the other characters, having been born in West Germany.prevnext
The famous Nakatomi Tower was actually a building on 20th Century Fox's own lot, a building which can still be easily visited today. In addition to shooting in their own building, many of the addresses and phone numbers that pop up in the film are actual telephone numbers to offices at 20th Century Fox, as they owned the rights to the numbers and places.prevnext
A Star is Hidden
Considering he hadn't established himself as an action star, the film's theatrical poster's didn't include Willis' face, in fear that his image would deter his detractors. Once the film became a success, his face was put back onto the poster to create the now memorable promotional art.prevnext
Die Hard was Rickman's very first feature film role, one that he almost passed on. The actor had arrived in Hollywood two days prior and was disgusted at the thought of his first film role being one of a villain. Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, In the Mouth of Madness) was almost given the role of Hans Gruber before Rickman reluctantly accepted.prevnext
The now iconic "Yippie-Ky-Yay, motherf**ker!" almost sounded completely different. McTiernan argued that the line should be delivered,"Yippie-Ty-Yay," while Willis insisted on saying, "Yippie-Ky-Yay." The two compromised and shot the scene with both deliveries, ultimately opting for Willis' version.prevnext
SPOILER (for Die Hard, which is almost 40 years old)
When filming Gruber's death scene, he was dropped from a height of roughly 20 feet onto an air bag. Rickman was being held by a stuntman, and to get a genuine look of surprise, dropped Rickman at the count of 2 as opposed to waiting for the count of 3.prev