30 Years of Die Hard Franchise
Die Hard,” which was released 30 years ago this month, made Bruce Willis a bona fide action hero. But the lead role was originally meant for someone else.The film is based on “Nothing Lasts Forever,” Roderick Thorp’s 1979 novel about a Los Angeles office building that is overrun by German terrorists on Christmas Eve.
The book, which was itself inspired by the film “The Towering Inferno,” was a sequel to Thorp’s 1966 novel “The Detective.”Since Frank Sinatra had starred in the film adaptation of “The Detective,” the role in “Die Hard” was his to take. But Sinatra, who was then in his early 70s, declined. The filmmakers went to a number of movie stars, including Richard Gere and Clint Eastwood, before turning to Willis, who was best known at the time for the TV comedy “Moonlighting.”
“Die Hard” was a surprise box-office hit, making $140 million worldwide. The Times’s review said it was “exceedingly stupid, but escapist fun.”The film set a new tone for summer blockbusters and provokes an annual debateover whether it’s a Christmas movie (Willis says it isn’t). Either way, fans are glad that, in the words of Willis’s character, John McClane, he “got invited to the Christmas party by mistake.”
Jennifer Jett wrote today’s Back Story in the NYT.