The Story of Die Hard, Bruce Willis and Nakatomi Plaza

Die Hard has everything to be considered the action movie benchmark of the era. There is lots of gunfire, a skyscraper, scary terrorists, exploding glass, a dashing villain, and of course, a unique hero. There is no surprise that the film is so loved by so many.

Bruce Willis on the set of Die Hard.
Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

But, would you believe that Bruce Willis was the last choice for the role? Actors such as Stallone or Schwarzenegger rejected the position, and finally, it went to Willis. Here we look at a few more interesting facts about such an iconic film.

Five Million Dollars and a Lot of Fame

Today it may seem like a small figure for a star actor, but in 1988 Willis needed that check. 20th Century Fox didn’t skimp on the fee for the Die Hard star because they wanted Hollywood’s best. Even without foreseeing its success, they bet everything on paying very well for the starring role.

Bruce Willis is on the set of Die Hard.
Source: Copyright: 20th Century Fox

But ironically, Bruce Willis was not part of the film’s marketing. For publicity purposes, the protagonist was Nakatomi Plaza. The tower is under siege by terrorists in the movie, and when Die Hard became the hit we know today, the building soon became a movie icon.

Nakatomi Tower or Fox Plaza

We don’t know if it was to save production costs or if it was to make its headquarters famous, but it was a wise decision to choose 20th Century Fox’s headquarters for the filming of Die Hard. The lowered rental costs indeed served to offset all the glass and cars smashed on the set!

Die Hrd Poster / Fox Plaza
Source: Copyright: 20th Century Fox

Fox Plaza is the name of the iconic tower. In 1987, it was still under construction, so it was still slightly empty. The few workers in attendance during filming had to live with the noise and many practical effects in their workday.

The 30-Story Falling Scene

The tower was so pivotal to the film that the ending of Die Hard had to involve it. Alan Rickman’s epic fall from the 30th floor is more than memorable. The director surprised the actor during the scene filming, who was not expecting the crew to drop him 40 feet.

Behind the scene images of Rickman’s fall.
Source: Copyright: 20th Century Fox

Anyone would be surprised to be thrown into the void. John McTiernan, the director, needed the natural expression of terror to stick in viewers’ minds for many generations. The scene helped put the film and the building into film folklore forever.