Sometimes the twists and turns that film projects take seem to be guided by fate — as the story of Die Hard
demonstrates. And since we have Die Hard
on the brain with Olympus Has Fallen
in theaters today (being touted
as "Die Hard
in the White House"), we thought you might enjoy this story.
Novelist Roderick Thorp wrote the 1979 book Nothing Lasts Forever
about a retired New York detective that is forced to contend with a group of German terrorists. In the mid '80s, screenwriter Steven de Souza was approached by Fox to tackle an adaptation of the Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner Commando
. De Souza looked to Thorp's novel for inspiration since it was one of his favorite detective tales at the time.
The proposed sequel to the film — about a retired Black Ops Commando (Schwarzenegger) that leads the fight against a gang of South American mercenaries with the hopes of using him as their pawn in a political assassination operation — also received script revisions from The Walking Dead's Frank Darabont. Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger wasn't interested in reprising his role as Colonel John Matrix. His career was on the rise at that time, and he knew he had the option to pursue the hottest new projects.
Fox had de Souza rework the script into an original feature and once again offered it to Schwarzenegger who turned them down a second time. The company went searching for its newest character: John McClane. Moviehole
relates: "Everyone from Gibson to Stallone to Caan to Reynolds to Ford and Gere were offered the part of cheeky New York cop John McClane (even then-hot TV star Don Johnson was discussed at one stage)." Willis was an established television star (Moonlighting
) and had just wrapped work on his official film debut, Blind Date
. The studio was uncertain the actor could pull it off, but rave reviews
of the "sardonic action hero" in the newly reborn Die Hard
proved them wrong.
The role was a career changer for Willis who proved he could do action, drama, comedy and more. Thankfully Arnie passed on the film, or McClane's "Yippee-ki-yay" line might not have the same ring to it. Fate also made sure we'd get to see Schwarzenegger battling invisible foes in Predator
. We love it when a plan comes together. [h/t reddit