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A&E/Joseph Lederer

Bates Motel, Episode 3: "What's Wrong with Norman?"

A&E/Joseph Lederer
A&E/Joseph Lederer

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s official: The Norman Bates we all know and love (?) has arrived. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, we have Dylan mugging with a gun in a Bates manor mirror. He’s pointing it. Sticking it in his pants. Trying out a menacing stare. He may be more Quick Draw McGraw than Clint Eastwood, but I think Dylan just became my favorite character. Also, how many layers does he have on? I count a t-shirt, a flannel, a hoodie, and a leather jacket. After he’s done posing, Dylan walks into the kitchen, where Norma asks for his help with motel stuff.

“I’d love to, but I have a job,” he announces, and Norma(n) looks at him with such comic shock that I’m waiting for the spit take. Norma asks what he’ll be doing. “Nothing,” is Dylan’s response, and then he’s out the door, presumably to go do “nothing.”

“Norman? You OK?”

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Meanwhile, Norman heads to school, where a weepy Emma (wearing a plethora of questionable prints which are either awful or adorably quirky) finds him at his locker.

Long story short: She’s freaking out that the little black book was fact, not fiction, and she’s having a hard time dealing. “That dead girl is calling us from the grave,” she says, waving the journal around. Norman demands that Emma return the journal to him, which is not the response she was expecting.

“Why are you so obsessed with it?” he asks her, annoyed.

“Hey, I found it in your room,” she shoots back.

“What’s that supposed to mean? I’m obsessed with it? I’m not obsessed with it,” the lady doth protest too much.

Proving that he’s not at all preoccupied with the book’s contents, Norman goes to class and promptly has a vision of his teacher tied up like the sketched girls. He’s supposed to be taking a test, but hasn’t written a single letter. “Norman? You OK?” Mrs. Watson asks, and, looking kind of sweaty and lecherous, Norman passes out.

“Does Your Son Have a History of Blackouts?”

At St. Sebastian Hospital, a doctor asks Norma if Norman has had episodes like this in the past. Her eyes have been on her son, but Norma’s head whips around at the question. “Why would you ask me that?” she says, alarmed, and it seems like she’s a smidge defensive. “No, never. Not at all.”

Back to Dylan, who’s traipsing through the woods with his new pal Ethan—the same area, of course, where Norman and Emma looked for a grave, found a pot field and recently fled from gunmen. (High school shenanigans have really changed since my days.)

“This where they shot Deliverance?” Dylan asks. “Boy, you got a pretty mouth.” Yep, favorite character status cemented.

The new BFFs are enjoying nature’s beauty—which just happens to include $5 million worth of pot plants—when they’re suddenly looking down the barrel of a couple of guns. Dylan fumbles for his own gun when the guys start laughing. “We’re just messing with you, noob,” they grin, and then mock the gun placement that he worked so hard on getting right. “You’ll probably want to keep that up front, though. Quick draw.” They split, leaving Dylan and Ethan alone with a tent, a whole lot of ammo, and some snacks.

“What do we do now?” Dylan asks.

“We chill,” Ethan says, and it looks like Dylan’s “nothing” job description was closer than he thought.

“You’re Brave, Norman Bates.”

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Speaking of chilling, that’s what Norma(n) are doing at the hospital. While they’re waiting on test results, Norma gets a phone call: The new carpet has arrived and someone needs to sign for it. She leaves, not even noticing when she passes Norman’s only other visitor in the hallway. It’s Bradley, bearing a very familiar pot of flowers.

Norman asks how her father is (the correct answer: well done), and Bradley reports that he’s probably not going to make it. There’s an uncomfortable silence, which she breaks by saying, “I know. Death is awkward. So what about your dad? He doesn’t live with you, right?” Norman tells her that his dad passed away after having an accident in their garage. She realizes that this makes them kindred spirits, and tells him to scootch over so she can watch an old movie with him.

“You like old movies?” she asks.

“Everyone seems better in old movies. Even bad ones. Happier, maybe.” Norman

After a few beats, Bradley agrees. “You just want to be happy,” she says.

“What’s Wrong With Me?”

As Norma’s signing for the carpet—by the way, they’ve accidentally delivered carpeting for five units instead of four—when Sheriff Romero comes busting in.

“You can’t just walk into my home,” Norma sputters.

“Actually, we can,” he replies. Guess who got that search warrant!

Leaving the cops alone at her house, Norma goes to retrieve Norman from the hospital. Even though they can’t find anything wrong with him, they want to keep him overnight for observation. “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” Norma basically says, and starts yanking cords and tubes out. As she wheels him away, she tells Norman that police ransacked the house. “I have no idea if they found anything. It was one of the most horrible experiences of my life.”

“Did they find anything?” Norman asks, totally failing to pull off the nonchalant look he was going for.

The second he gets home, Norman drops to his belly and looks under his bed. The space is totally empty, save for a dust bunny or two (where are those Swiffers when you need them?). His face falls. “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?” he half sobs.

”Why Would You Want to Keep That Thing?”

After changing back into his octogenarian-chic clothes, Norman walks into the kitchen where his mom is waxing poetic about her homemade turkey pot pie.

“Mother. I kept Keith’s belt,” he interrupts.

“Why?” Norma seems truly baffled.

Norman ignores the question, but haltingly explains that the belt isn’t where he left it.

“I mean, why? Why would you do that?” she repeats. Norman is at a loss for words.

“All right, well, if the police had found it, they would have said something, right? They would have told us. Okay. I will be right back,” she says, whipping her apron off.

Back to the Deliverance forest. Dylan, understandably, is asking some pretty logical questions about the pot field. Here are the answers: A) They can’t smoke it on the job. A) “A couple of families from town” own it. A) Bradley’s dad was set on fire to send a message. A) The people who did it were punished, and yes, it was the upside down guy hanging from the yardarm last week.

Then they freak out when they hear a noise, but it’s just a bird. Dylan is pretty stoked. Pheasant hunting!!

“It Will Be Like She Never Existed.”

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Ding-dong, Emma calling. “We need to talk,” she insists. Norman tries to slam the door in her face, basically, but she keeps going. “She was real. If we forget about her, then the world will forget about her. It will be like she never existed. Like her life didn’t matter,” she says, and there’s so much desperation, so much insistence in her voice, you know she’s mostly talking about her own 27 year shelf life.

They head down to room #4, where Norman found the journal, and Emma deduces that men came to the motel to test drive the sex slaves.

“Who do you think brought them?” Norman wonders.

“Have you met Keith? The guy who owned the motel before you?” Norman averts his eyes. “He’s disturbing, to say the least. Not someone you want to get stuck in an elevator with.”

Emma walks over to inspect the bathroom and finds a Chinese character scratched beneath the sink. She snaps a picture of it.

“Everything’s Gonna Be OK.”

A woman on a mission, Norma has been driving around White Pine Bay looking for the deputy. She finds Shelby sitting in his truck just off a main road (speed trap? He is a jerk) and hops into his truck to repeat her “widow with a sickly son” sob story. Then she baits (Bates?) her hook and goes fishing: “I can’t have cops coming in and out of my home over nothing. I mean, it’s not like they found anything.”

“I’m on duty, Norma,” Shelby says tersely, but adds that they should talk later, over dinner at his place that night. Say 8:00? She reluctantly agrees.

“Don’t worry,” he tells her. “Everything’s gonna be OK.”

At home, Norma tells Norman she’s having dinner with Deputy Shelby—“Because Norman, he knows”—then gets dolled up in her best asset-enhancing dress and heads over to Shelby’s trap. House. It doesn’t take long for them to get down to business.

“How about we start with you telling me about the belt?” he says, then gets annoyed when she tries to play coy. “Don’t do that. If we’re gonna help each other, we’ve gotta be honest with each other. That is the only thing that matters to me, Norma, is honesty.” Shelby insists, voice dripping with faux sincerity. She starts to go into her “poor widowed business owner being harassed by Sheriff Romero” schtick again when Shelby stops her.

“Romero never saw the belt. I found it. I took it. So no one else knows,” he says. “Where did you get this scar, Norma?” he asks, touching the marred spot on her thigh that we saw last week.

“I was a child. It was an accident.”

“Is that what happened to Keith? Was it an accident? Norma, did your son kill Keith?”

She denies it, of course, and Shelby decides to try another tactic. He appeals to her by saying that he knows that she has taken care of everyone and everything her whole life, and now he’s here to take care of her. “You are so beautiful it just makes my heart hurt,” he says, and it sounds exactly like a rehearsed line. Making out commences.

“Our Family is So Screwed Up.”

A&E/Joseph Lederer

Back to the woods. Dylan and Ethan are enjoying some friendly chit-chat over a meal of freshly-roasted pheasant. As they’re talking about where Dylan grew up, he realizes that he’s not sure exactly sure of his family’s roots—at least not all of them.

“You don’t know where your own mom’s from?” Ethan says, incredulously, and a look crosses over Dylan’s face like he just realized that yeah, that is weird.

“You got a brother, right? You guys close or what?” Ethan presses.

“Not really,” Dylan answers, probably visualizing a meat tenderizer.

At home, Norman is waiting up on the couch, watching an old movie (of course) in his old fashioned PJs. When he hears Dylan open the door, he immediately calls for his Mother. Dylan advises him—not entirely unkindly—to stop doing things like that. “It’s just weird,” he says.

“And calling your mom a whore is perfectly normal,” Norman counters. Then he confesses that Norma should have been home hours ago, and he’s kind of freaking out.

“You need to get out more, Norman. What she’s doing to you—it’s not healthy. She’s smothering you. There’s a whole world out there. You need some perspective.” Dylan nods at his brother, obviously feeling that he’s given some decent sibling advice. “Sorry you tried to kill me the other night,” he adds.

“I hardly think I tried to kill you,” Norman replies.

“You came at me with a meat tenderizer.”

“Oh I did?” Norman kind of chuckles. “You’re making this up, right?”

“You were pretty badass,” Dylan admits.

“Yeah, I’m sure I struck fear in your heart.”

They both laugh. Hahaha, attempted fratricide is hilarious.

“I Just Like to Keep Mementos.”

Norma arrives home from her close encounter with Shelby and goes upstairs to find Norman, sleeping in her bed. She assures him that everything is going to be fine, and he sees what’s going on. It’s probably not the first time it’s happened.

“This is a bad idea. Letting him use you. What if he wants more? What if he makes you do things, things you don’t want to do?” Norman asks.

Exasperated, Norma asks again why he felt the need to keep the belt.

“I just like to keep mementos, you know, all that stuff I have in my room.”

“Those were good experiences,” she explains, unnecessarily adding that sexual assault and murder are typically not. “Why would you want to keep a memento of that?”

“I’m so sorry, mother,” he says, avoiding the question.

“This Is All Your Fault.”

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Emma pulls Norman aside at school. She got the character from under the sink translated—thanks, Yahoo Answers!—and found out that it means “beautiful.”

“That’s really sad,” Norman kind of shrugs. Emma tells him that she has decided to go to the police and he explodes at her. “Finding out what happened to this girl isn’t going to make a difference to anyone,” he yells. “She’s still gonna be dead, you’re still gonna be sick, and I’m still gonna be who I am.” He immediately apologizes, then turns and leaves.

Norman lies on his bed, motionless, as the sun drops from afternoon to evening to night. Norma enters his room.

“You were right,” she says. “As long as Shelby has that belt, he can control us. He can make us do things. Things we don’t want to do. Just like your father did.”

“We can’t let that happen. Not again,” Norman agrees, and now we’re wondering about that “accident” in the garage again.

“This is all your fault,” Norma glares.

“I know, Mother. There’s something wrong with me.”

“You know what you have to do, don’t you?”

“I have to get that belt,” Norman nods, and that’s when we realize there’s only been one person in the room for the whole conversation.

He’s off, walking down the middle of the road in the middle of the night, looking every inch as crazy as Anthony Perkins. Classic Norman Bates has definitely arrived.

"Help Me."

Norman arrives at Shelby’s house and breaks in way too easily. Shouldn’t an officer of the law have a better alarm system? Or at least some Micro Machines and some heated doorknobs? Shelby’s either not home or he’s the worst cop ever, because Norman is making enough noise to wake the dead. He finds a locked door to the basement, then goes upstairs to Shelby’s bedroom and discovers a keyring in his nightstand. Bingo. After fighting off a dog with a baseball bat (don’t worry, he doesn’t hurt it, just pushes it away) Norman goes back downstairs and uses the keys on the locked door and I am suddenly reminded of Maniac Mansion.

Norman finds your standard-issue bed and disco ball setup in the basement - you know, like you do - and then finds a heavy steel door right next to it. Behind the door is another bed, a bean bag, and an Asian girl with needle marks up and down her arms.

“Help me,” she says, clutching Norman’s arm. Outside, Deputy Shelby arrives home from work.

Thoughts:
If Norman can imagine that his mom is standing talking to him, what else is he hallucinating? Bradley? Emma? Dylan? Women tied up in basements?

What else has he done during the blackouts that he’s obviously had before?

Theories? Thoughts? I'm on Twitter.

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15 Surprising Facts About Scarface
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Universal Home Video

Say hello to our little list. Here are a few facts to break out at your next screening of Scarface, Brian De Palma’s gangsters-and-cocaine classic, which arrived in theaters on this day in 1983.

1. IT WASN'T THE FIRST SCARFACE.

Brian De Palma's Scarface is a loose remake of the 1932 movie of the same name, which is also about the rise and fall of an American immigrant gangster. The producer of the 1983 version, Martin Bregman, saw the original on late night TV and thought the idea could be modernized—though it still pays respect to the original film. De Palma's flick is dedicated to the original film’s director, Howard Hawks, and screenwriter, Ben Hecht.

2. IT COULD HAVE BEEN A SIDNEY LUMET FILM.

At one point in the film's production, Sidney Lumet—the socially conscious director of such classics as Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men—was brought on as its director. "Sidney Lumet came up with the idea of what's happening today in Miami, and it inspired Bregman," Pacino told Empire Magazine. "He and Oliver Stone got together and produced a script that had a lot of energy and was very well written. Oliver Stone was writing about stuff that was touching on things that were going on in the world, he was in touch with that energy and that rage and that underbelly."

3. OLIVER STONE WASN'T INTERESTED IN WRITING THE SCRIPT, UNTIL LUMET GOT INVOLVED.


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Producer Bregman offered relative newcomer Oliver Stone a chance to overhaul the screenplay, but Stone—who was still reeling from the box office disappointment of his film, The Hand—wasn't interested. "I didn’t like the original movie that much," Stone told Creative Screenwriting. "It didn’t really hit me at all and I had no desire to make another Italian gangster picture because so many had been done so well, there would be no point to it. The origin of it, according to Marty Bregman, [was that] Al had seen the '30s version on television, he loved it and expressed to Marty as his long time mentor/partner that he’d like to do a role like that. So Marty presented it to me and I had no interest in doing a period piece."

But when Bregman contacted Stone again about the project later, his opinion changed. "Sidney Lumet had stepped into the deal," Stone said. "Sidney had a great idea to take the 1930s American prohibition gangster movie and make it into a modern immigrant gangster movie dealing with the same problems that we had then, that we’re prohibiting drugs instead of alcohol. There’s a prohibition against drugs that’s created the same criminal class as (prohibition of alcohol) created the Mafia. It was a remarkable idea."

4. UNFORTUNATELY, ACCORDING TO STONE, LUMET HATED HIS SCRIPT.

While the chance to work with Lumet was part of what lured Stone to the project, it was his script that ultimately led to the director's departure from the film. According to Stone: "Sidney Lumet hated my script. I don’t know if he’d say that in public himself, I sound like a petulant screenwriter saying that, I’d rather not say that word. Let me say that Sidney did not understand my script, whereas Bregman wanted to continue in that direction with Al."

5. STONE HAD FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER.

In order to create the most accurate picture possible, Stone spent time in Florida and the Caribbean interviewing people on both sides of the law for research. "It got hairy," Stone admitted of the research process. "It gave me all this color. I wanted to do a sun-drenched, tropical Third World gangster, cigar, sexy Miami movie."

Unfortunately, while penning the screenplay, Stone was also dealing with his own cocaine habit, which gave him an insight into what the drug can do to users. Stone actually tried to kick his habit by leaving the country to complete the script so he could be far away from his access to the drug.

"I moved to Paris and got out of the cocaine world too because that was another problem for me," he said. "I was doing coke at the time, and I really regretted it. I got into a habit of it and I was an addictive personality. I did it, not to an extreme or to a place where I was as destructive as some people, but certainly to where I was going stale mentally. I moved out of L.A. with my wife at the time and moved back to France to try and get into another world and see the world differently. And I wrote the script totally f***ing cold sober."

6. BRIAN DE PALMA DIDN'T WANT TO AUDITION MICHELLE PFEIFFER.


Universal Home Video

De Palma was hesitant to audition the relatively untested Pfeiffer because at the time she was best known for the box office bomb Grease 2. Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Kelly McGillis, Sharon Stone and Sigourney Weaver were all considered for the role of Elvira, but Bregman pushed for Pfeiffer to audition and she got the part.

7. YES, THERE IS A LOT OF SWEARING.

According to the Family Media Guide, which monitors profanity, sexual content, and violence in movies, Scarface features 207 uses of the “F” word, which works out to about 1.21 F-bombs per minute. In 2014, Martin Scorsese more than doubled that with a record-setting 506 F-bombs thrown in The Wolf of Wall Street.

8. TONY MONTANA WAS NAMED FOR A FOOTBALL STAR.

Stone, who was a San Francisco 49ers fan, named the character of Tony Montana after Joe Montana, his favorite football player.

9. TONY IS ONLY REFERRED TO AS "SCARFACE" ONCE, AND IT'S IN SPANISH.

Hector, the Colombian gangster who threatens Tony with the chainsaw, refers to Tony as “cara cicatriz,” meaning “scar face” in Spanish.

That chainsaw scene, by the way, was based on a real incident. To research the movie, Stone embedded himself with Miami law enforcement and based the infamous chainsaw sequence on a gangland story he heard from the Miami-Dade County police.

10. VERY LITTLE OF THE FILM WAS ACTUALLY SHOT IN MIAMI.

The film was originally going to be shot entirely on location in Miami, but protests by the local Cuban-American community forced the movie to leave Miami two weeks into production. Besides footage from those two weeks, the rest of the movie was shot in Los Angeles, New York, and Santa Barbara.

11. ALL THAT "COCAINE" LED TO PROBLEMS WITH PACINO'S NASAL PASSAGES.

Though there has long been a myth that Pacino snorted real cocaine on camera for Scarface, the "cocaine" used in the movie was supposedly powdered milk (even if De Palma has never officially stated what the crew used as a drug stand-in). But just because it wasn't real doesn't mean that it didn't create problems for Pacino's nasal passages. "For years after, I have had things up in there," Pacino said in 2015. "I don't know what happened to my nose, but it's changed."

12. PACINO'S NOSE WASN'T HIS ONLY BODY PART TO SUFFER DAMAGE.

Still of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in 'Scarface' (1983)
Universal Home Video

In the film's very bloody conclusion, Montana famously asks the assailants who've invaded his home to "say hello to my little friend," which happens to be a very large gun. That gun took a beating from all the blanks it had to fire, so much so that Pacino ended up burning his hand on its barrel. "My hand stuck to that sucker," he said. Ultimately, the actor—and his bandaged hands—had to sit out some of the action in the last few weeks of production.

13. STEVEN SPIELBERG DIRECTED A SINGLE SHOT.

De Palma and Spielberg had been friends since the two began making studio movies in the mid-1970s, and they made a habit of visiting each other’s sets. Spielberg was on hand for one of the days of shooting the Colombians’ initial attack on Tony Montana’s house at the end of the movie, so De Palma let Spielberg direct the low-angle shot where the attackers first enter the house.

14. SOME COOL TECHNOLOGY WENT INTO THE GUN MUZZLE FLASHES.

In order to heighten the severity of the gunfire, De Palma and the special effects coordinators created a mechanism to synchronize the gunfire with the open shutter on the movie camera to show the huge muzzle flash coming from the guns in the final shootout.

15. SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS A FAN OF THE FILM.

The trust fund the former Iraqi dictator set up to launder money was called “Montana Management,” a nod to the company Tony uses to launder money in the movie.

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30 Cold, Hard Facts About Die Hard
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What do you get when you mix one part action movie with one part holiday flick and add in a dash of sweaty tank top? Die Hard, John McTiernan’s genre-bending Christmas action masterpiece for the ages, which sees a badass NYPD cop take on a skyscraper full of bad guys in the midst of an office holiday party. Here are 30 things you might not know about the movie.

1. IT’S GOT A LITERARY BACKGROUND.

Think some action-loving Hollywood scribe came up with the concept for Die Hard? Think again. The movie is based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 crime novel Nothing Lasts Forever, which is a sequel to his 1966 novel, The Detective. In 2013, Thorp’s long out-of-print book was resurrected to coincide with the film’s 25th anniversary.

2. IT WAS INSPIRED BY THE TOWERING INFERNO.

The idea for Nothing Lasts Forever was inspired John Guillermin’s 1974 disaster flick The Towering Inferno. After seeing the film, Thorp had a dream about a man being chased through a skyscraper by a group of men with guns. He eventually turned that snippet of an idea into a sequel to The Detective.

3. FRANK SINATRA GOT FIRST DIBS ON PLAYING THE ROLE OF JOHN MCCLANE.


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Because he had starred in the big-screen adaptation of The Detective, Frank Sinatra had to be offered the role in its sequel. At the age of 73, he smartly turned it down.

4. BRUCE WILLIS’S BIG-SCREEN DEBUT WAS WITH FRANK SINATRA.

In 1980, Willis made his film debut (albeit uncredited) in the crime thriller The First Deadly Sin. He has no name and if you blink you’ll miss him, but the role simply required that Willis entered a diner as Sinatra’s character left it. Maybe it was kismet?

5. CLINT EASTWOOD PLANNED TO TAKE A STAB AT THE PART.

Originally, it was Clint Eastwood who owned the movie rights to Nothing Lasts Forever, which he had planned to star in in the early 1980s. That obviously never happened.

6. IT WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE A SEQUEL TO COMMANDO.

This is one of the most popular internet stories about Die Hard. But according to Stephen de Souza, the screenwriter of both Die Hard and Commando, while there was a sequel to Commando planned, the only similarity with Die Hard is that they both took place in buildings. According to de Souza, Escape Plan is the closest to his original Commando 2 idea and Die Hard was never supposed to be anything but Die Hard.

7. BRUCE WILLIS WASN’T EVEN THE STUDIO’S THIRD CHOICE FOR THE ROLE.

If Die Hard was to be a success, the studio knew they needed a bona fide action star in the part, so they set about offering it to a seemingly never-ending list of A-listers of the time. Rumor has it that Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Robert De Niro, Charles Bronson, Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Don Johnson, Burt Reynolds, and Richard Dean Anderson (yes, MacGyver!) were all considered for the role of John McClane. And all declined it.

8. BRUCE WILLIS WAS CONSIDERED A COMEDIC ACTOR AT THE TIME.

Die Hard’s producers had nothing against Bruce Willis, of course. He just wasn’t an immediate choice for the role because, up until that point, he was known solely as a comedic actor, not an action star. Following the success of the film, the action genre really became Willis’s bread and butter, and although he has two Emmys for his comedy work, it has remained as such to this day.

9. BRUCE WILLIS WAS BARELY EVEN SEEN ON THE MOVIE’S POSTERS.

Bruce Willis stars as John McClane in 'Die Hard.'
Twentieth Century Fox

Because the studio’s marketing gurus were unconvinced that audiences would pay to see an action movie starring the funny guy from Moonlighting, the original batch of posters for the film centered on Nakatomi Plaza instead of Willis’s mug. As the film gained steam, the marketing materials were altered, and Willis was more prominent in the promos.

10. WILLIS WAS PAID $5 MILLION TO MAKE THE MOVIE.

Even with all the uncertainly surrounding whether he could pull the film off, Willis was paid $5 million to make Die Hard, which was considered a rather hefty sum at the time—a figure reserved for only the top tier of Hollywood talents.

11. WILLIS SUGGESTED THAT BONNIE BEDELIA PLAY HIS WIFE.

Though we suspect that she wasn’t paid $5 million for the gig.

12. BRUCE WILLIS WAS ABLE TO SAY YES THANKS TO A WELL-TIMED PREGNANCY.

The first few times Bruce Willis was asked to star in the movie, he had to say no because of his commitments to Moonlighting. Then costar Cybill Shepard announced that she was pregnant. Because her pregnancy wouldn’t work within the show, producer Glenn Caron gave everyone 11 weeks off, allowing Willis to say yes.

13. SAM NEILL WAS ORIGINALLY APPROACHED FOR THE PART OF HANS GRUBER.

But Neill ended up turning the film down. Then, in the spring of 1987, the casting director saw Alan Rickman playing the dastardly Valmont in a stage production of Dangerous Liaisons and knew they had found their Hans.

14. DIE HARD WAS ALAN RICKMAN’S FEATURE FILM DEBUT.

Though Rickman may have played the part of Hans as cool as the other side of the pillow, it was actually his first role in a feature film.

15. JOHN MCTIERNAN TURNED THE MOVIE DOWN, TOO.

And not just once, but on a few different occasions. His reason was that the material just seemed too dark and cynical for him. “The original screenplay was a grim terrorist movie,” McTiernan told Empire magazine in 2014. “On my second week working on it, I said, 'Guys, there's no part of terrorism that's fun. Robbers are fun bad guys. Let's make this a date movie.’ And they had the courage to do it.”

16. MCTIERNAN SEES IT AS A SHAKESPEAREAN TALE.

In the original script, the action in Die Hard takes place over a three-day span, but McTiernan—inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—insisted that it be condensed into a single evening.

17. NAKATOMI PLAZA IS ACTUALLY FOX PLAZA.


Yes, the corporate headquarters of 20th Century Fox—the very studio making the movie—proved to be the perfect location for the movie’s much-needed Nakatomi Plaza. And as it was still under construction, there wasn’t a whole lot they needed to do to the space to make it movie-ready. The studio charged itself rent to use its own space.

18. THE ROOM WHERE THE HOSTAGES ARE BEING HELD IS LITERALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT'S FALLINGWATER.

"In this period, Japanese corporations were buying America," production designer Jackson De Govia said in the Die Hard DVD audio commentary. "We posited that ... Nakatami Corporation bought Fallingwater, disassembled it, and reassembled it in the atrium, like a trophy."

19. THAT PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE CITY BELOW? IT’S NOT REAL.

A 380-foot-long background painting provided the illusion of a breathtaking city view in the movie. And it was a state-of-the-art one, too, with animated lights, moving traffic, and the ability to change from night to day. The painting is still the property of the studio and has been used in other productions since.

20. THE FILM’S SUCCESS SPAWNED A BONA FIDE FRANCHISE.

In addition to its four sequels, Die Hard has spawned video games and comic books, too.

21. JOHN MCCLANE’S TUMBLE DOWN A VENTILATION SHAFT WAS AN ACCIDENT.

Or maybe “error” would be a better word. But in the scene in which McClane jumps into an elevator shaft, his stunt man was supposed to grab onto the first vent. But he missed. By a lot. Which made the footage even more exciting to watch, so editor Frank J. Urioste kept it in the final cut.

22. ALAN RICKMAN’S DEATH SCENE WAS ALSO PRETTY SCARY.

At least it was for Rickman. In order to make it look as if he was falling off a building, Rickman was supposed to drop 20 feet onto an air bag while holding onto a stunt man. But in order to get a genuinely terrified reaction out of him, they dropped him on the count of two—not three, as was planned.

23. BRUCE WILLIS SUFFERED PERMANENT HEARING LOSS.


Twentieth Century Fox

In order to get the hyper-realism that director John McTiernan was looking for, the blanks used in the guns in the movie were modified to be extra loud. In one scene, Willis shoots a terrorist through a table, which put the action star in extremely close proximity to the gun—and caused permanent hearing loss. He referenced the injury in a 2007 interview with The Guardian. When they asked Willis his most unappealing habit, he replied that, “Due to an accident on the first Die Hard, I suffer two-thirds partial hearing loss in my left ear and have a tendency to say, ‘Whaaa?’”

24. ALAN RICKMAN WASN’T FOND OF THE NOISE EITHER.

Whenever he had to shoot a gun in the film, Rickman couldn’t help but flinch. Which forced McTiernan to have to cut away from him so that his reactions were not caught on film.

25. GRUBER’S AMERICAN ACCENT POSED NOTHING BUT PROBLEMS.

The scene in which Rickman, as Gruber, slips into an American accent and pretends to be yet another hostage who got away was insisted on by screenwriter Steven de Souza, who wanted them in a room together to duke it out. But McTiernan was never happy with Rickman’s American accent, saying, “I still hear Alan Rickman’s English accent. I was never quite happy with the way he opened his mouth [in that scene] ... I shot it three times trying to get him to sound more stridently American ... it’s odd for someone who has such enormous verbal skills; he just had terrible trouble getting an American accent.”

26. HANS GRUBER’S GERMAN IS MOSTLY GIBBERISH.

And the bulk of his German cohorts were not German either. Bruce Willis, on the other hand, was actually born in West Germany to an American father and a German mother.

27. BRUCE WILLIS HAS FOUR FEET.

As Willis spends much of the movie in his bare feet running through broken glass, he was given a pair of rubber feet to wear as a safety precaution. Which is great and all, but if you look closely in certain scenes, you can actually see the fake appendages.

28. YOU CAN SEE—BUT NOT TOUCH—JOHN MCCLANE’S SWEATY TANK TOP.


Getty Images

In 2007, Willis donated the blood-soaked tank top he wore in Die Hard to the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian.

29. “YIPPEE-KI-YAY” STOLE THE MOVIE.

It was a simple line: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!” But it became the film’s defining moment, and the unofficial catchphrase that has been used in all four Die Hard sequels as well.

30. CREDIT FOR THE LINE IS OWED TO WILLIS.

In a 2013 interview with Ryan Seacrest, Bruce Willis admitted that “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!” was really just a joke. “It was a throwaway,” said Willis. “I was just trying to crack up the crew and I never thought it was going to be allowed to stay in the film."

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