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Roel Reiné, Director of Admiral

Roel Reiné found his calling early: When he saw Blade Runner at just 11 years old, he instantly knew that he wanted to be a filmmaker. After honing his craft in his native Netherlands, he made the jump to Los Angeles, helming direct-to-DVD movies like Death Race Inferno, The Marine, and The Man With the Iron Fists 2, among others. He released Admiral, a movie about Dutch naval hero Michiel de Ruyter, in Europe last year. We talked to the director about making inexpensive movies look like more than a million bucks, the challenges of filming on the water, and how consumer technology is changing movie-making.

What made you want to make movies?

I grew up in the Netherlands and I grew up with American movies. I saw Blade Runner when I was 11 and I knew I wanted to become a movie director. So from that moment on, I did everything that was needed: I started reading about making movies, I sneaked on to movie sets in Holland when I was 15 and 16, and I used my father’s 8 millimeter camera to do stop motion of my puppets.

Then I kind of found out that, in Holland, making genre movies wasn’t really done. I had to get my chops going in television.

I started in local television, and when I was 23 years old, I became the director of this action TV series in Holland—a prime time, really well-watched TV series. I did many TV shows in Holland before I developed my first screenplay, The Delivery, when I was 28. It was an English language road movie that I made with a Dutch cast. That movie basically took my career to the next level. I won this award in Holland called the Golden Calf. It’s kind of the Oscars in Holland for the best director.

Then the movie was sold to Lionsgate and that was my ticket to Los Angeles. It was very difficult to get my first American movie off the ground. So I said to my agent and my manager, “I really believe in the 10,000 hour rule: If I want to become a really good director, I need to be directing for 10,000 hours. Anything that is in front of me I will do.” So I jumped into the sequel and prequel business. I made 16 American feature films in 7 or 8 years, like Death Race 2 and The Marine and Dead in Tombstone—these are action movies that cost between $5 and $8 million for the studios to make.

Two years ago, I felt like I had done my 10,000 hours, and I wanted to make a really big, cool movie. So, I went back to Holland and developed this movie, Admiral.

When you came onboard to Admiral, was there a script already?

The producer, Klaas de Jong, was developing a screenplay about Michiel de Ruyter. He did that for 5 years, and he spoke with some Dutch directors, but he could not find one. They were very scared that they could not pull this off technically because of the sea battles.

I always wanted to make a movie about the golden age of Dutch history because, at that time, Holland was the only republic in the world. We were surrounded by kingdoms that were trying to stop us from being a republic. We were like a small empire—we had 20,000 ships on the oceans, while France had only 400 ships on the ocean.

So I called Klaas and said, “Let’s talk.” Then when I read the screenplay I said to him, “All those sea battles, those are easy. But we need to find a story because it’s too much of a history lesson.” So, I brought in a writer friend and we developed a new script over two years that was more story, more character, more heart and emotion. I also started developing the sea battles and how we had to do them technically.

When you start working on a project like this, how much research do you do? Do you feel like you have to be really historically accurate?

My research is massive. There’s a lot of stuff known about the 17th century—many museums have books and letters from that time, and there are a lot of paintings that show you this world, the sea battles and the killing of our prime minister. So, there’s a lot of material visually you can use as inspiration, but there’s also a lot that was written down that we could use. So that was really cool to tap into.

I wanted to be as historically correct as possible, but we’re making a movie and not a history lesson. The biggest thing I did was let go of the ages of all the characters—because if you want to follow the story of a character over a period of 20 years, it gets complicated. Maybe you need to use different actors and they have kids that grow up and they’re going to have wrinkles in the face and all this makeup and prosthetics. Then the movie becomes very … from a distance you cannot connect with these characters as a viewer.

What I did was give all the characters an average age, and told the story in a period of nine months—but in those nine months, we gave the audience 22 years of Dutch history. All these historical moments are happening to these characters in a period of nine months, and you can connect better to these characters.

We also made the language a little modern. If you go to old Dutch language, it’s really boring. But everything else—even the details in the sea battles and the details in set dressing and the ideas that the main character has to destroy the English fleet—all these things are historically correct.

Why was it important to tell Michiel de Ruyter’s story, and why was it important to make it in Holland? 

I think the most important reason is that he’s the No. 1 hero in Dutch history. Schools are named after this person. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Amsterdam but on Dam Square in the middle of Amsterdam is Nieuwe Kerk [New Church], and in this church is his grave. It’s a beautiful, big grave. Everybody knows this person and nobody has done any movies about him. So I definitely wanted to make a movie that the Dutch people could be proud of. 

The main goal was to make a really good Dutch movie and to make it accurate. The Dutch speak Dutch, the English speak English, the French speak French so hopefully an international audience also finds that appealing.

There are a number of battles at sea in the trailer. How much of that was real, and how much of it was computer generated?

I really love doing stuff in camera. I think Death Race Inferno has some of the coolest action in racing out there because we did all the stunts in camera—we only used computer animation to clean up stuff. I wanted to do the same thing with Admiral. We had three 17th century ships. One is from Holland, one from Russia, and one from France. We brought them to a really big lake in Holland, where you can’t see the shore on the other side. With these three ships we did a real sea battle, with all the crew and actors on the ships and cannons firing. I didn’t use any green screen because I wanted it to feel real.

But then with computers I surrounded the ships with more ships so you feel the hundreds of ships around them. And we have some kind of Google Earth kind of perspective of the sea battles that is full CG where you can see kind of the logistics of it.

But it was a bit challenging. There are the three Bs: You don’t want to be on boats, you don’t want to use beasts, and you don’t want to use babies on movies. So, we did a lot of boats and we went on the water. Then you have to think about currents and wind direction. So, it makes it all very complicated. But I like to do complicated stuff. It’s my hobby.

Did you do a lot of the shooting yourself?

I’m the director of photography on all my movies, but sometimes I don’t get the credit because of union rules and that kind of stuff. It’s kind of part of my style. I don’t believe in sitting in another room behind a monitor. I like to be with the actors on the floor, feel what they feel and interact with them directly. And, because I’m operating the camera, I can participate in things that happen on the set and correct them or direct them really close by. That makes me very fast—but also all the actors really like it because they never get so much attention from a director as from me because I’m there.

You choose a location, you choose a script, you choose the actors, you block the actors. For me, moving the camera with specific lenses in that environment is one thought. It is one idea. It’s very much about having control over all those elements to make the movie really cool. So that’s the reason I’ve done it on all my movies.

It cost 8 million euro to make Admiral—which is not a ton of money. What lessons did you learn from making direct-to-video films that you applied there?

Movies like Death Race Inferno, they cost $6.5 million dollars. It’s very low, but I learned a way to make them look like $20 or $30 million: Use smaller crews, be my own DP, and never use studio sets—find the production value in the locations that you shoot. I always shoot with four cameras and therefore I get a lot more coverage—which makes the movie feel much richer because we can cut more and show more angles.

I brought all that knowledge to Admiral—it looks like a $40-50 million movie. We did it for 8 million euros because we used the same techniques. We were very smart in the way we planned, scheduled, and shot it. I shot that movie in 42 days and it’s a 2.5 hour movie with hundreds of extras every day—lots of costumes and horses and big sets. But if you surround yourself with a really good crew and you have a plan with stretching the dollar in a smart way, then you can pull it off.

You’ve used drones in some of your shoots. Is there any other sort of emerging technology that allows you to do really cool things as a director?

Many years ago, I think on my Scorpion King movie, I started learning flying the drones myself and they crashed all the time. It was a big disaster. But in the last few years, drones have became so sophisticated and very easy to fly. In Admiral, there are three shots flying over the water that I shot with a $600 consumer drone with a GoPro camera underneath. Then with this GoPro footage we went to the visual effects company. We CG’d in ships and other stuff and then we blew it up in 4K in cinema and nobody sees that this is like a GoPro shot in between the epic shots that we use for the whole movie.

So, it’s also using that technique and daring to use it in a bold way. I operate the drones myself. It’s fun.

On Admiral, we had two days on choppers because we were on the lake and I could have more control. But even when I’m shooting on choppers, I never use gyroscopes. I wear ropes and harnesses and I’m hanging half out of the chopper with the camera on a bungee rig from cables because I can control it much better, and stabilization you do in post with computers. So also there you use a combination of techniques to get the best result.

You love genre movies. What genre do you really want to work in?

I really would like to do science fiction. But also I really like historical movies. I’m going to do a few more historical movies out of the Netherlands. But I also want to do a movie, for example, about Waterloo and the whole battle to kick Napoleon out of Europe. I also had this Second World War movie that I want to do. It’s different stuff. That’s the great thing about making movies—I don’t want to stick around for one genre. I want to mix it up. It keeps me sharp and keeps it fun.

What’s one movie that you think everyone should see?

The Godfather and Once Upon a Time in the West and Blade Runner. Those are the movies that people should see—but I think everybody’s seen them already.

Since you got your start in TV, are there any TV series that you’d want to direct an episode of?

I love House of Cards, True DetectiveGame of Thrones and Vikings. Hollywood is making the big $100 million tentpoles and some sequels and some smaller movies. But the really daring movies—[movies with] political statements—a lot of studios are not making those movies anymore. You see a lot of moviemakers going to television to do it there, and I really like that. The Newsroom and all those kind of series I really like, because they dare to do something edgy and controversial, and they also do it in a style that is very filmish. These series look really cool—they look like feature films.

If you’re a big Game of Thrones fan, you must have been thrilled when Charles Dance, who plays Tywin Lannister, signed on to be in Admiral.

Of course. He was on my list, and I was like “I don’t know if we will succeed but let’s give it a try.” When he read the script and he said yes I was so excited because he’s such an iconic figure in that series. But he’s also a very iconic actor. He’s the villain in our movie and every time you see him, it’s so cool because he’s so powerful. It works so nicely. So I was really proud that he was part of this movie.

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15 Surprising Facts About Scarface
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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.


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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)
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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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