'Die Hard with a Vengeance' turns 26: Celebrating the actioner
The iconic action-thriller Die Hard with a Vengeance was released 26 years ago today. Bruce Willis reprised his role in this third film of the Die Hard franchise as NYPD Lieutenant John McClane. It's one of only two Die Hard films based on an original screenplay, not a novel. Let's take a look at some interesting facts about this film. Yippee-ki-yay, baby!
Die Hard with a Vengeance was originally called Simon Says. Writer Jonathan Hensleigh's script was purchased by Warner Bros. and they tried to make it into the fourth Lethal Weapon film. The studio eventually ended up passing on the script. That's when Fox came in and purchased the same, and then re-wrote it as the third film in the Die Hard franchise.
In one of the alternative endings, Simon succeeds in the robbery and McClane becomes the scapegoat for the crime. He still manages to track Simon and invites him to play a Russian roulette-style game with a small rocket launcher. Simon ends up dead in the end. Hensleigh claims that this version was dropped as the studio thought it made McClane seem cruel and cunning.
There was another alternative ending scene planned, but was rejected early on and never filmed. In it, McClane and Carver float back to the shore on a makeshift raft after the explosion, with the terrorists running away scot-free in a plane with a briefcase given by Carver. It turns out the briefcase had a bomb inside and all the bad guys end up dead.
James Bond star Sean Connery was the top choice to play Simon in this film. The actor was a part of many crime and action genre films during the time and director John McTiernan really wanted him to take up that role. However, Connery refused, because he reportedly didn't want to play a diabolical villain and the role eventually went to Jeremy Irons.
Die Hard franchise had always been crafty with its heist elements. Did you know Hensleigh was actually approached by the FBI post completion of his script? It so happened that the film shows the characters get into the Federal Reserve through its tunneling system, and authorities found the scene worrying. Hence, they questioned Hensleigh how he knew so much about the place!
The film also starred Graham Green, Colleen Camp, Anthony Peck, and Larry Bryggman. If you haven't seen any of the previous Die Hard films, you'd assume that the whole cast just reprised their roles, along with Willis. Interestingly, that's not the case. None of them were in the previous installments but the chemistry, rapport, and fluidity among them are still top-notch.
Although the film struggled in the United States, it ended up earning $366.1 million at the global box office. It was shot on a budget of $90 million. By the time, it ended its theatrical run, it became the highest-grossing film of the year 1995.