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18 Black-and-White Facts About Clerks

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In addition to introducing a cringe-worthy new definition for the word “snowball,” the raunchy independent comedy Clerks projected the anxieties of America’s downwardly mobile Generation X onto the screens of arthouse cinemas around the world. As they endured the tedium of life behind a cash register, Dante Hicks and Randal Graves pondered the lack of romantic and vocational direction in their lives. Well, Dante did. Randal just watched Return of the Jedi and mocked customers. The black-and-white indie film, released in 1994, launched the career of writer-director Kevin Smith, who was 23 years old when it was produced, and introduced his iconic characters, Jay and Silent Bob. Here are 18 things you might not know about Clerks.

1. KEVIN SMITH MET SOME OF HIS KEY COLLABORATORS DURING A VERY BRIEF FILM SCHOOL TENURE.

After seeing an ad in The Village Voice, Smith applied to an eight-month program at the Vancouver Film School. He always aimed to make an independent film, in the vein of Richard Linklater’s Slacker (1991), but he dropped out halfway through the program. “We didn’t do anything practical,” Smith told Film School Rejects. “Mostly it was teachers showing us films.”

He did meet his longtime producer Scott Mosier and cinematographer Dave Klein at the school. Afterwards, both came to New Jersey to help him make Clerks. And Smith took something else away from his time in Vancouver: According to the making-of feature of Clerks X, the 10th anniversary DVD package of the film, Smith and Mosier debated the ethics of blowing up the two Death Stars in the cafeteria of the film school, inspiring one of Clerks’ most memorable bits of dialogue.

2. SMITH WAS A CLERK AT THAT VERY QUICK STOP.

Upon graduating from high school, Smith worked a series of low-wage jobs near his hometown of Highlands, New Jersey. One of his longest stints was as a cashier at the Quick Stop in Leonardo. “I know that world because that’s all I’ve ever done,” Smith said in the Clerks X featurette. Upon returning from Vancouver, he was rehired by the Quick Stop and began working on the script for Clerks. He based Dante on himself and Randal on his friend, Bryan Johnson, who worked at RST Video next door.

3. SMITH MAXED OUT HIS CREDIT CARDS TO MAKE THE FILM.

Smith sold his comic book collection, received donations from family, and contributed a $3000 FEMA check from the loss of property in a nor’easter to make Clerks. But most of its $27,575 budget came from the 10 credit cards he maxed out. He learned about budgeting from Filmmaker Magazine; one article was particularly helpful because it included line item budgets of three independent movies.

4. THE FILM WAS ORIGINALLY A VEHICLE FOR SMITH’S HIGH SCHOOL COMEDY TROUPE.

Smith formed a comedy troupe in high school and wrote the part of Randal for himself and Dante for former troupe mate Ernest O’Donnell (even though Dante was the clerk Smith based on himself). But O’Donnell didn’t seem to take the project seriously, according to Clerks X.

Smith realized he’d exhaust himself working both as the director and one of the main characters, so he recruited actors from the local community theater scene. This is how he met Brian O’Halloran (Dante) and Marilyn Ghigliotti (Veronica). Jeff Anderson was a friend who helped Smith during auditions by reading parts opposite the actors auditioning. When Smith decided to vacate the part of Randal, he offered it to Anderson and took on the less demanding role of Silent Bob. O’Donnell was cast as a fitness-obsessed customer.

5. FRIENDS, FAMILY MEMBERS, AND CREW FILLED OUT THE SMALL PARTS.

Smith’s sister, Virginia, is the customer who discusses her job of manually inseminating chickens. His mom is the woman sorting through the jugs of milk for one with a later expiration date. His longtime friend Walt Flanagan played four different customers; Scott Mosier played two.

6. IT WAS SHOT AT NIGHT.

The owner of the Quick Stop and RST Video gave Smith permission to film at night. Clerks was shot over 21 consecutive days in 1993, after the stores closed. (Smith wrote a plot point to explain the lack of window lighting. When Dante opens the store, he discovers a vandal has jammed gum into the locks on the shutters.) Each night Smith and his crew had to essentially disassemble the store, moving shelving and unplugging refrigerators to make room for equipment, then reassemble everything the next morning, according to Clerks X.

The cast all worked day jobs, too: O’Halloran in manufacturing, Anderson in the mailroom of AT&T, Ghigliotti as a hair stylist, Mewes as a roofer, and Smith in the very store where they filmed. All suffered from sleep deprivation. The cast and crew did get to eat from the shelves of the Quick Stop; the store is credited with “catering” in the film’s credits.

7. SMITH PLANNED AHEAD TO GET A SHOT OF A CAT DEFECATING.

In one scene, the cat that hangs around the store leaps onto the counter and defecates into a litter box in front of a customer. According to the DVD commentary track, Smith borrowed a friend’s cat for the scene. The owner hid his litter box for a day, hoping he’d rush to it as soon as it was presented on the store counter. This worked. When presenting the film at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, Smith joked that this is why Clerks didn’t have the Humane Society’s “no animals were harmed …” seal of approval.

8. ANDERSON WAS UNCOMFORTABLE WITH ONE BIT OF DIALOGUE.

In the only scene in which Randal does any work, the clerk phones the distributor for the video store and reads off a list of colorful pornography titles in front of a small child. Knowing that his mother would see the film, Anderson asked Smith to eliminate a few of the raunchier titles; Smith made handed the list back to Anderson—with a few titles added.

9. SMITH COULDN’T AFFORD TO SHOOT ONE SCENE HE WROTE.

Dante and Randal close the stores to attend the funeral of a classmate. In the next scene, mourners pelt them with stones as they drive off. Back at the store, Dante chides Randal for knocking over the casket. This scene where this happened was scripted: When Randal gets bored at the funeral, Dante throws him the keys to his car, which land in the cleavage of the deceased. Randal tries to retrieve them and gets assaulted by the grieving father. Smith couldn’t afford to rent a funeral home, but for Clerks X, he recreated the scene in the style of the short-lived animated Clerks TV show.

10. JASON MEWES WAS SURPRISINGLY CAMERA SHY.

Smith wrote the part of Jay, the much more vocal half of the loitering pair of drug dealers, for his friend Jason Mewes, who was known for his loud, outrageous behavior. “When we did Clerks I was 18/19,” Mewes told The Skinny. “That’s how I used to act, exactly. I didn’t have any filter.” Yet Mewes was surprisingly uncomfortable in front of the camera.

“Kevin used to make fun of me because he said when he met me that someone should put me in a movie,” Mewes told The Sheaf. “But when I got on camera, man, I just froze and needed everyone out of there. I warmed up to it eventually but that wasn’t really until Mallrats.” In order to help ease his nervousness, the crew continually bought him six-packs from the corner bar. Smith also cleared the set to film the scene when Jay dances to a boom box. In the script, Jay says the line that convinces Dante to try to salvage his relationship with Veronica. (“You know, there’s a million fine-looking women in the world, dude. But they don’t all bring you lasagna at work. Most of them just cheat on you.”) Mewes didn’t think he could deliver it, so Smith stepped in. This begat a theme in Smith’s films where Silent Bob speaks up at important moments.

11. IT LED TO A MARRIAGE.

Sparks flew between Anderson and Lisa Spoonauer, who played Dante’s ill-fated ex Caitlin. Shortly after the three-week shoot, the two became engaged. Neither the marriage nor Spoonauer’s acting ambitions outlasted the 1990s though: She has only one other film credit to her name, an obscure 1997 movie called Bartender. Anderson, to whom she stayed married until 1999, says she quit acting after losing out on a part in a Nicolas Cage film. She hasn’t been interviewed since and didn’t participate in the DVD bonuses for Clerks X.

12. NO ONE SHOWED UP TO THE PREMIERE.

Smith secured a place for Clerks at the 1993 Independent Feature Film Market, an event held at New York City’s Angelika Film Center. On the Clerks X featurette, Smith said he was “crestfallen” that the Sunday night screening attracted few viewers beyond cast and crew. Fortunately, one of the moviegoers was Bob Hawk, an independent film consultant who served on the advisory selection committee of the Sundance Film Festival. Hawk touted the film to friends in the indie cinema world and helped land it a place at Sundance.

13. IN THE ORIGINAL VERSION, DANTE DIES.

In the version shown at the IFFM, a robber comes in after closing and shoots and kills Dante. “I hated that ending,” Brian O’Halloran told Rolling Stone. “I just thought it was too quick of a twist.” Smith admitted he didn’t know how to end the film. Due to the criticism of several early viewers, Smith recut the film to end at the closing of the store.

14. HARVEY WEINSTEIN DIDN’T LIKE THE MOVIE ... AT LEAST NOT AT FIRST.

A video copy of Clerks made its way to Miramax. According to Clerks X, company co-founder Harvey Weinstein watched 10 minutes and decided to pass on it. Some of his staff speculated that Weinstein, then a heavy smoker, was turned off by the gum company representative’s anti-tobacco tirade. Younger Miramax staffers, however, enjoyed it and convinced Weinstein to attend its screening at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival.

After an enthusiastic audience response, Weinstein asked Smith and Mosier to meet him at a restaurant across the street. “We sit down and he’s just like, ‘Boy, that’s a f*cking good movie. We’re going to take that movie, we’re going to put it in a f*cking multiplex, put a f*cking soundtrack on it, and f*cking kids are gonna come see it,’” Smith recounted to WIRED. “And me and Scott were just like, ‘F*ckin’ A, man.’”

15. THE SOUNDTRACK COST MORE THAN THE FILM.

Once it was picked up by Miramax, Clerks got an alt-rock soundtrack featuring Bad Religion, Stabbing Westward, and Soul Asylum. Licensing the songs cost more than producing the film.

16. ONE OF O.J. SIMPSON’S ATTORNEYS DEFENDED IT TO THE MPAA.

The Motion Picture Association of America slapped Clerks with an NC-17 rating, solely because of its crass dialogue. This would have doomed the film, as few theaters show films rated NC-17. So Miramax hired famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz to plead their case to the MPAA, which relented and gave it an R rating.

17. THE QUICK STOP IS STILL OPERATING.

You can still buy eggs, milk, and cigarettes at The Quick Stop at 58 Leonard Avenue in Leonardo, New Jersey. There is some Smith memorabilia on the walls and fans have been known to take photographs posing as Jay and Silent Bob outside. However, RST Video—like many video stores in the age of Netflix—is no more.

18. THE FILM IS CITED IN A PSYCHOLOGIST’S BOOK ON GENERATIONS.

Dr. Jean M. Twenge, an associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University, cites Clerks a few times in her pop culture-savvy 2006 book Generation Me, about the more individualistic mores of Americans born since the 1970s. She says Smith’s characters represent Generation X’s crassness and disregard for societal expectations. Twenge considers Clerks “a pretty accurate illustration of how young people talk, with about two swear words in every line.”

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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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