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25 Indestructible Facts About The Terminator

He told you he’d be back. Before you go and see the newest installment of the Terminator franchise, here are some things you may not have known about the first four movies in the series.

1. THE TERMINATOR CAME FROM A NIGHTMARE.

Director and co-writer James Cameron first thought of the idea for The Terminator while stressed out and fever-stricken in Rome during production on his low-budget horror movie, Piranha II: The Spawning, which he had reluctantly agreed to direct. After a hard night of editing his own cut of a movie he hated, Cameron dreamed of a solid chrome torso crawling out of an explosion and dragging itself across the floor. The director quickly cooked up the story of a robot assassin sent back in time to kill the woman whose son will become the savior of humankind, and The Terminator was born. Cameron has since disowned Piranha II and considers The Terminator his first film.

2. JAMES CAMERON DIVVIED UP THE WRITING DUTIES.

To turn his nightmare into a screenplay, Cameron recruited his friend William Wisher, Jr., who is only given an “Additional Dialogue” credit in the final film. Wisher would actually write the early scenes establishing Sarah Connor and the police interrogation sequences, while Cameron fleshed out most of the action scenes and the details involving the war between humans and the machines. Producer Gale Anne Hurd, who would eventually marry and divorce Cameron, also received a writing credit on the movie, though according to Cameron she didn’t do any writing at all. Hurd apparently only suggested script edits. (Cameron also sold The Terminator rights to Hurd ... for $1.)

3. THE MOVIE HAD A UNIQUE PITCH MEETING.

The script found its way to the desk of John Day, the head of low-budget movie studio Hemdale Pictures, who called Cameron in for a pitch meeting after Orion Pictures had already agreed to distribute the film nationwide. To woo the studio, Cameron had actor Lance Henriksen (who had appeared in Piranha II: The Spawning, and would go on to appear in The Terminator and Aliens) show up to the meeting decked out in costume as the titular cyborg who at that point had yet to be cast. Henriksen broke down the studio’s office door while wearing a ripped shirt, leather jacket, combat boots, and gold foil from a cigarette pack folded around his teeth. Daly loved the gimmick and Cameron’s pitch, which included detailed storyboards to round out his ideas, and greenlit the movie with a budget of $6 million.

4. THE STUDIO WANTED O.J. SIMPSON TO PLAY THE TERMINATOR.

Arnold Schwarzenegger first came to the attention of Cameron after the head of Orion Pictures had met the former Mr. Universe at a party. At that point, Arnold’s only legitimate acting experience had been in 1982's Conan the Barbarian, and he was eager to break into different roles. Orion originally wanted Arnold to play Kyle Reese, the human fighter sent back in time, and wanted former NFL star O.J. Simpson to play the Terminator.

Cameron initially didn’t like either choice, and took a meeting with Schwarzenegger with the intention of picking a fight with him and storming back to the studio demanding a new actor. Instead, the two clicked over Schwarzenegger’s vision for the titular villain, which instead caused Cameron to run back to the studio and suggest he play the Terminator; the actor was signed the next day.

Fun Fact: Sting was considered for the role of Kyle Reese before Cameron chose actor Michael Biehn. Biehn would go on to appear in Cameron’s next films, Aliens and The Abyss.

5. SHOOTING ON THE MOVIE ENTERED A STATE OF ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

After more than a year of preparation, Cameron was finally ready to start filming in the spring of 1983 when the producer of Conan the Barbarian, Dino De Laurentiis, exercised an option in Schwarzenegger’s contract to force him to appear in the Conan sequel, Conan the Destroyer, despite his Terminator contract with Cameron. The entire filming schedule for The Terminator had to be scrapped and delayed for nine months while Schwarzenegger went off to film the other movie in Mexico.

6. CAMERON USED THE DELAY WISELY.

During the forced delay on the start date for his movie, Cameron used the script for The Terminator as a writing sample to attract new writing opportunities around Hollywood. He eventually got a meeting at Brandywine Productions for a remake of Spartacus that took place in space, but when that fell through the production company floated another property to Cameron: the sequel to Alien. Cameron went back a week later with a script treatment for “Alien 2” that incorporated ideas from another script he had written called “Mother” where a gigantic alien creature fights the female lead while she is strapped into a huge mechanical exoskeleton. The studio loved his take, and hired him to write the Alien sequel.

On the very same day, Cameron was also hired by a different studio to write the second Rambo movie. Not wanting to let two opportunities slip through his fingers, Cameron took both jobs, and wrote the screenplays simultaneously. To complete both projects in a three-month period, Cameron estimated each would be two hours long with scripts at 120 pages apiece. He then divided the total working hours he would have during the three months by the 360 pages for both scripts and wrote that many pages per hour until they were both complete.

7. THE FINAL TERMINATOR DESIGN WAS IDENTICAL TO CAMERON’S NIGHTMARE.

Cameron originally wanted special effects legend Dick Smith to create the design for the Terminator’s skeleton. Smith was the genius behind the make-up for the iconic effects in The Exorcist and aging Marlon Brando in The Godfather, but Smith declined the offer, which left the opportunity open for his lesser-known friend, Stan Winston, to step in. Winston would go on to pioneer effects in such movies as Cameron’s own Aliens and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Despite the fact that both Cameron and Winston would spend weeks sending each other preliminary design sketches about what the Terminator would look like, the final design was from the same sketch Cameron made after having his nightmare epiphany in Rome.

8. WINSTON’S TEAM WORKED HARD TO CREATE THE TERMINATOR SKELETON.

Seven separate artists worked around the clock for six months to create Cameron’s vision of the Terminator skeleton puppet. It was created using a clay, plaster, and urethane molding, which was then cast in a mixture of epoxy and fiberglass with reinforced steel throughout the rig. The whole skeleton was chrome-plated and distressed to look more realistic, and the final skeleton weighed more than 100 pounds.

When they tried to puppeteer the skeleton walking on set, Cameron thought the lumbering rig didn’t look real enough. To make up for the fake-looking walking, Cameron added a story beat that had the Terminator develop a limp after walking out of the fiery truck.

9. THE MUSIC HAS A UNIQUE TIME SIGNATURE.

The movie’s distinctive music was written and performed by composer Brad Fiedel. To create the iconic clangs of the film’s percussive theme, Fiedel recorded samples of himself banging frying pans together and then layered in synth melodies underneath using Prophet 10 and Oberheim analog synthesizers. While blending the two together, Fiedel looped the rhythmic clangs a split second off the foundational synth melody, and made a propulsive theme that was slightly off. When he put together sheet music for the score he later found that his little mistake made the time signature of the theme into an impossible 13/16 at three plus three plus three plus two plus two. When he would complete the score for the sequel, Fiedel made things a little more plausible and used an updated 6/8 time signature.

10. SCI-FI WRITER HARLAN ELLISON WAS NOT A FAN.

After the movie was released, writer Harlan Ellison sued the makers of The Terminator for allegedly stealing the idea for the movie from two episodes of the 1960s sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits. Ellison alleged that Cameron took the idea of two future warriors battling in the past from an episode entitled “Soldier,” and that the Terminator skeleton was taken from a similar robot design he’d created for the episode “Demon with a Glass Hand.” Rather than battling him in costly court proceedings, Orion Pictures simply settled out of court and agreed to add an “acknowledgment to the works of” credit in subsequent prints of the movie. Cameron wasn’t too happy about Orion capitulating to Ellison, mostly because he felt he came up with an original idea and any resemblance to Ellison’s work was because they both dealt with similar genre tropes. Cameron would later go on to call Ellison a “parasite who can kiss my ass.”

11. TERMINATOR 2 COST A LOT OF MONEY AT THE TIME.

When Cameron decided to revisit the story of Sarah Connor for 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, what he came up with wasn’t cheap. Its $94 million budget made it the most expensive movie ever made at the time. The sequences before the title cards allegedly cost as much money as the entire budget of the first movie. Cameron alone was paid $6 million to direct and co-write the movie, while Schwarzenegger was coaxed back into the robotic role that made him a star for a whopping $15 million salary—$12 million of which was in the shape of a Gulfstream jet purchased for the actor by the film’s producer, Mario Kassar.

12. THE PLOT FOR THE SEQUEL WAS THE ORIGINAL PLOT OF THE FIRST MOVIE.

Early story treatments for The Terminator had two Terminators sent back to our present to battle each other, but the dual robot idea ended up being too costly for the original film's relatively small budget. The initial ideas for T2 adopted the double Terminator idea, but would have had one good T-800 and one bad T-800 fighting each other, both of which were to be played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cameron scrapped the idea because of logistical reasons and cherry-picked another unused idea from the original film’s early story treatments for the villain: the liquid metal T-1000.

13. STAN WINSTON TECHNICALLY DIRECTED THE FIRST FOOTAGE OF T2.

Before filming on the sequel even started, Cameron had Winston direct and shoot a teaser trailer for T2 featuring an assembly line showing how the T-800s were created, and culminating in a robot in the form of Schwarzenegger uttering his famous phrase, “I’ll be back.”

14. THE MOVIE USHERED IN A NEW ERA IN SPECIAL EFFECTS.

Cameron had to leave the liquid metal T-1000 out of the original movie because it simply wasn’t possible using the special effects that were available in the early 1980s. But he had tried a then-new method called CGI to create a few scenes involving an alien water tentacle for his 1989 film, The Abyss. He then tasked the effects artists at Industrial Light and Magic to bring a photorealistic liquid metal Terminator to life for T2 using the nascent technology.

Thirty-five different ILM artists worked for six months on shots that would only equal about five minutes of screen time in the 136-minute movie. To help them create the morphing effects, they used a new piece of software developed by ILM artist John Knoll and his brother. The software was actually the very first version of Photoshop.

Stan Winston and his team also returned to create practical effects that would accent the CGI, including a photorealistic puppet of the T-1000 with a gaping hole in its head and the liquid metal Terminator splayed in half after a shotgun blast.

Fun Fact: Early concept art used singer Billy Idol’s face for the T-1000, and Cameron briefly considered him for the part until Idol broke his leg in a motorcycle accident and couldn’t complete training in time for the movie.

15. THE FILMMAKERS LOOKED EVERYWHERE FOR JOHN CONNOR.

Casting director Mali Finn searched nationwide for a boy to play the young John Connor in T2 using all the usual Hollywood casting channels, but also in some unorthodox ways. She saw hundreds of professional actors, but it was her tendency to think outside of the box that got her to see Edward Furlong. Finn had visited The Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena, where Furlong caught her eye as he was playing with other kids. When she approached the boy he was immediately standoffish, and called her “frog lips,” but was also extremely confident. Like John Connor in the movie, Furlong had never met his father and was raised by his single mother. After a few rough auditions with the completely untrained Furlong, Finn had a dialogue coach work with him to seem more natural, and Cameron eventually hired him for the part.

16. EDWARD FURLONG GREW UP A LITTLE TOO FAST.

The inexperienced actor was only 13 years old when filming began on T2, but he quickly started to go through puberty halfway through production, which caused his voice to become noticeably deeper. The change caused Cameron to have to re-record all of Furlong’s lines from the first half of the shoot in order to match his deeper voice. Luckily Cameron didn’t shoot the film chronologically so, using ADR, he was able to replace Furlong’s high-pitched, pre-pubescent voice with his new one. Also, Cameron had to complete some pickup shots at the end of production, and one was of Furlong and Hamilton standing on opposite sides of a car. But Furlong had grown so much in height that it didn’t match the shot they had completed months before, so the production had to dig a hole for the actor to stand in to appear shorter.

17. DESPITE THE CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY, CAMERON ALSO USED SOME OLD HOLLYWOOD TRICKS.

To achieve the effect of the T-1000 taking the shape of Sarah Connor during the final battle in the steel mill, Cameron didn’t use big, expensive CGI. Instead, he used actress Linda Hamilton’s twin sister Leslie to briefly appear as Sarah before the double is exposed to John as the T-1000 in disguise. Similarly, the police officer who the T-1000 takes the shape of at the mental hospital before meeting his demise was also played by twins.

18. LINDA HAMILTON GOT RIPPED TO PLAY THIS VERSION OF SARAH.

Hamilton was cast in the original Terminator because she was an everywoman, and the original script described her as “19, small and delicate features. Pretty in a flawed, accessible way. She doesn’t stop the party when she walks in, but you’d like to get to know her.” But for T2 she would subvert that description and have to become a killing machine burdened with knowing that the world will end and nobody believes her. To get her into peak physical condition, Hamilton trained with an ex-Israeli commando named Uzi Gal for three hours a day, six days a week, for four months. Onscreen she has about one percent body fat.

19. JUDGMENT DAY LOOKED VERY REAL.

To create the nuclear blast seen in Sarah’s dream of Judgment Day, the filmmakers mixed practical and CGI effects after studying hours of actual nuclear bomb test footage. Large-scale miniatures stood in for close-up shots of L.A. being destroyed, including cars being blown off the freeway and entire buildings being demolished. The miniatures were shot at high speeds and blown apart with air mortars. The wide-angle shot of the atomic shockwave was created using early Apple Macintosh software. Cameron claims actual physicists have told him the depiction of the nuclear blast in T2 is the most authentic representation of the effects of an atomic bomb.

20. PEOPLE HATED THE ORIGINAL ENDING.

Cameron shot an ending that went from Sarah and John staring at the molten metal that had just dissolved the Terminator to Hamilton in old age makeup talking into a recorder in a park in Washington D.C. about how Judgment Day had been avoided. She watches John, who she explains is now a U.S. senator, play with his daughter amongst other people in faux futuristic clothing. When shown to test audiences at screenings held at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, audience reactions were grim. They didn’t like the tonal shift of seeing their badass heroine in lumpy old age makeup, and they didn’t like the implausibility of John becoming a senator. Also, this ending doesn’t take into consideration the paradox of how Sarah would meet Kyle and give birth to John if the future apocalyptic war had been prevented.

Stuck not knowing what to do about changing the ending, Cameron called Hamilton in for a session to record additional dialogue and cut it together with 45 seconds of a beginning of a take that showed the road at night leading up to the Cyberdyne Systems building from a scene earlier in the movie. Audiences loved the ambiguity of the ending but appreciated the message Cameron wrote: “If a machine, a terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”

21. ARNOLD CAME BACK FOR ROUND THREE … BUT AT A PRICE.

Schwarzenegger was paid $29.25 million to reprise his role as The Terminator in T3. His contract stipulated that $1.5 million of the budget should be set aside for private jets, a fully-equipped gym, deluxe hotel suites, limousines, and bodyguards for his personal benefit at all times during production. On top of that, Arnold also received 20 percent of the gross receipts on ticket sales, DVDs, TV rights, game licensing, and in-flight movie licensing on the movie worldwide.

22. THE PRODUCTION ON T3 WAS MASSIVE.

Several city blocks used during the crane chase sequence were created entirely by the production because they needed a level of destruction that wasn’t feasible if they shot on an actual street. The studio didn’t want to foot the bill for the sequence during the crane chase when the Terminator swings through an entire building facade while hanging from the crane, so Schwarzenegger put up his own money to complete the scene.

23. T3 COST EVEN MORE MONEY TO MAKE AT THE TIME.

Its production budget of $170 million made T3 the most expensive film ever made at the time. It has since been eclipsed many times over, and now stands as the 67th most expensive film ever made.

24. CHRISTIAN BALE WASN’T SUPPOSED TO PLAY JOHN CONNOR IN TERMINATOR SALVATION.

For the fourth installment of the series, actor Christian Bale was originally tapped to play the cyborg Marcus Wright (a role that eventually went to actor Sam Worthington), but he insisted on playing John Connor, a character that only appeared briefly in the original script. Bale’s demands forced the filmmakers to rewrite the script and make Bale’s Connor character a bigger part in the plot of the movie.

25. NEITHER BALE NOR SCHWARZENEGGER WERE FANS OF TERMINATOR SALVATION.

Schwarzenegger, who didn’t appear in the fourth installment of the franchise, didn’t like the movie. While promoting the upcoming chapter of the series, Terminator Genisys, he told interviewers, “I think the three that I was in all had their own little personalities and interesting storylines.” As for Salvation, Arnold said, “Thank god [I didn’t do it]. It sucked.” When asked about his contribution to the series, Bale wasn’t so happy about it either, saying, “I knew that we gave it a shot, it didn't work. I know the reasons for that. Wisdom sometimes is knowing when you have to walk away.”

Additional Sources:
The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron by Rebecca Keegan

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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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