If you spent any part of the long holiday weekend in front of your television, then you no doubt spotted Die Hard (and Die Hard 2) in heavy rotation either on basic or pay cable. There's also a new Die Hard movie (A Good Day to Die Hard) arriving in theaters on February 14, and you probably caught a TV spot or two for that one as well as its brand-new trailer. Essentially, there was a lot of hard dying over the holidays, and we made sure to spend at least a few hours nursing our New Year's hangover by hangin' with one of our favorite on-screen heroes: John McClane.
While tweeting an observation about all the f-bombs in Die Hard 2, our buddy from Cinephilia & Beyond pointed us at the website for writer Doug Richardson (Die Hard 2, Bad Boys, Money Train), and aside from it being a great resource for those interested in screenwriting, the thing is also packed with some fantastic on-set stories. In one post, titled "Die Hard, Joel Silver and the Five-Thousand-Dollar Couch," Richardson writes about a ridiculously expensive leather couch that was mysteriously saved from the massive explosion of Nakatomi Plaza toward the end of Die Hard, shortly after McClane jumps off the roof with the fire hose.
The explosion was a single-take "event" shot set up after all the main actors had completed their scenes for the movie. It was filmed on a giant three-story set on the Twentieth Century Fox soundstage, and it was meant to be one of the film's most destructive sequences. That it most certainly was, with the entire Nakatomi lobby exploding in bursts of awesomeness, except for one very expensive couch that was oddly positioned in exactly the right spot so that it wouldn't be damaged. You can see the couch to the right of the screen in the image below (click to enlarge).
Richardson goes on to explain that everyone was applauding the explosive take except for producer Joel Silver, who noticed that a $5,000 couch was conveniently spared from the lobby destruction.
Says Richardson: Joel called for the entire crew to assemble on the nearly demolished set, gathering the mob around a gorgeous, leather Roche-Bobois sofa. Estimated value, five thousand dollars. The couch, despite the conflagration that they’d all just witnessed, was in showroom condition. Untouched by destructive fire, explosives, or water.
“I wanna know,” Joel shouted, “Who just ruined my shot?”
You see, Joel had been around more than a few movie sets. He knew how things worked. He understood how the occasional underhanded crew member operated. In this case, he suspected that one crew member had paid off another crew member on the special-effects crew to make certain that the five-thousand-dollar sofa survived the wreckage.
“Somebody on this crew,” announced Joel, “Decided to furnish their home at the expense of the movie.”
See, Silver was convinced that a crew member was secretly saving the couch to take home, and he was having none of it. So, with everyone watching, Silver took a bottle of lighter fluid and promptly lit a wild blaze atop that very expensive couch. He then cleared the set and made them do another take with the couch on fire.
Fortunately for us, both shots made it into the finished film. You can check out the second shot, with the couch on fire (courtesy of Joel Silver) below (click to enlarge).
So there you go. It was a couch -- and not Hans Gruber -- who wound up dying the hardest.