Die Hard Director Reflects On Working With The Late Alan Rickman

Die Hard director John McTiernan reflects on working with the late Alan Rickman. Released in 1988, Die Hard is now widely regarded as one of the best action movies of all time. The film is largely responsible for cementing Bruce Willis as an action star, with the actor playing New York City cop John McClane, who must thwart a terrorist plot while in LA visiting his wife. Die Hard was followed by four sequels, the most recent of which, A Good Day To Die Hardis largely considered one of the franchise’s weakest entries.


While Willis remains a standout from the original Die Hard, it is Rickman’s villain, Hans Gruber, who is one of the most memorable aspects of the film. Gruber, a suave, calculating German terrorist, is determined to steal a safe’s worth of bearer bonds, and isn’t afraid to kill innocent civilians who get in his way. The film ends, iconically, with Gruber falling to his death from the upper floor of Nakatomi Plaza. Rickman, who is now also known for playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and for his role as Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, sadly passed away in 2016.

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In a new interview on The Empire Movie PodcastMcTiernan reflects on his experience working with Rickman on Die Hardexplaining that he initially came to learn of the actor through the play Les Liaisons dangereuses. The director calls Rickman”nice, gentle, and pleasant,” but reveals that, after that play and after diehard, the actor always struggled to land roles which reflected that, due to his being typecast as a villain. Check out McTiernan’s full comment on Rickman below:

“Such an odd thing. He had discovered this character doing Liaisons dangereuses because he was a really good actor. And everybody wanted him to do that, but he spent the rest of his career trying not to do that. To be the nice, gentle, pleasant man that he really, in fact, was. It was sort of, you know, a tragedy of commercialism, because he went from doing us to doing the same things with the Sheriff of Nottingham and all that nonsense and he wanted to do different sorts of things.

Although Rickman did appear in a number of villainous roles, it’s worth noting that Snape in the Harry Potter franchise ultimately ends up being one of the most heroic characters in the entire saga. Despite this, however, it’s clear that Die Hard did heavily impact the late actor’s career and the types of roles that he was able to land moving forward, as McTiernan suggests. Even in his other best-known roles, including those in Love Actually and Galaxy Questthe actor plays characters who are highly flawed, and although they are redeemed in the end, the roles don’t seem to embody the qualities that McTiernan describes.

The director is not alone in his assessment of Rickman, and many of the late actor’s co-stars, including those from Harry Potter, have also described him as being an absolute pleasure to work with. It’s a testament to his acting talent, then, that he so wonderfully portrayed many memorable villains over the course of his career, even if he did desire to branch into other types of characters. while playing Die Hard‘s Hans Gruber may have gotten Rickman his start in Hollywood, it’s clear that being exceptionally good at one’s job as an actor can sometimes have unintended consequences.

Source: The Empire Film Podcast

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