From Script to Screen: Die Hard

By Natasha Guimond · December 24, 2017

It’s that time of year again! You know, when die-hard Die Hard fans insist that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Seriously, they’re out there. And it’s not up for debate anymore. They’ve made their point. Even our friends over at ScreenCraft think so. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, you might seriously want to consider it. In the following clip, a Christmas carol is brilliantly worked into the scene and delivers a perfect sense of irony when Sergeant Al Powell sings, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…” — Make sure you watch it all the way to the end.


Welcome to the party, indeed. So many things happen in this scene, but the most important thing for us when looking at the script—versus what ends up on the screen—is how much is ad-libbed to fit with being in the moment. While the script sets up a whirlwind of an adventure, it’s the way the actors interpreted their lines that elevates the story at hand.

Fun fact: Bruce Willis was never the first, second, or even third choice. We won’t get into the myriad of actors who were offered the role and then turned it down, but the first guy that turned it down might surprise you. Ever heard of Frank Sinatra? Who hasn’t? Did you know Mr. Blue Eyes played Joe Leland in a movie called The Detective? Bet you’re asking yourself, “What does that have to do with Die Hard?” Well, kids, The Detective was based on the novel of the same name, and the sequel to that novel is Nothing Lasts Forever, which Die Hard was based on. The folks at LADbible do a great job of digging into that. When Frankie boy turned down reprising the role, they changed the name of the main character to John McClane and disconnected it from its technical predecessor. With the plethora of Die Hard titles that came afterward, it’s a good thing for the studios that Ol’ Blue Eyes turned it down. We’ll call that a lucky break for Bruce, who up until that point was considered more of a comedic actor. #ThatRangeThough

If you really want to dig into how to write an action sequence, Die Hard is a great script to do it with, which is why we’ve already written about it here.

Download the script for Die Hard for free here.

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