While it’s part of our jobs to remain professional around talent, the little boy inside me was thrilled to have a chance to sit down to talk to Bruce Willis, particularly about a Die Hard film. The original is a movie I was practically raised on, and Willis was a member of the Justice League of Badasses I grew up with (the other members being Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Lee, RoboCop, Sylvester Stallone, among countless others,) and I’ve had the privilege of getting to speak with these gentlemen over the course of my press career.
Something was special about sitting in a room with Bruce Willis though, and that might’ve been because I’d based some of my personality around the character of John McClane. I idolized (and probably still do) the cop who’s always been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and here we are five films later with A Good Day To Die Hard. Myself and many of my colleagues had the wonderful chance to sit down with Willis, Jai Courtney, Juliya Snigir, and director John Moore to discuss the fifth film in the franchise.
Was there any difference in doing the stunts for this film as opposed to twenty-five years ago when you did the first film?
Bruce Willis – Not a tremendous difference. I get up a little slower from the ground. It’s ok, I’m doing alright. We have a great group of stunt technicians who keep us safe, and even though it might look like we’re falling out of the one-hundred and tenth floor of the Hotel Ukraine, we’re alright.
What made you feel that it was a time for another Die Hard, and was there talk of getting Bonnie Bedelia back?
Willis: I always think about Bonnie Bedelia and having her come back. Those things are unfortunately out of my hands, and it has to do with the series. We only really have another Die Hard when they have another complicated title that no one really understands. We just got to where we thought we might understand Live Free Or Die Hard, and now we have A Good Day To Die Hard, which to be honest, I’m still baffled by. But their both good movies, and we have to come up with a story. That’s another thing that triggers another film. This film was much more Germain to the Die Hard franchise that it has to do with family and family conflict, and that’s always been a high ticket number with Die Hard. In this case, I was fighting with my son, Jai Courtney.
What aspects of John McClane do you like?
Willis: I think there’s a certain amount of good will that has been visited on these films, the character, and the characters, and people root for you because you know someone like me; someone who thinks he’s too smart or has everything figured out when in truth he doesn’t really. And now we have my son who thinks he has everything figured out and he doesn’t really, and no one Earth really has it figured out. And it’s fun to watch people try to figure it out, and try to get out of each other’s way. Along the way, John Moore and his team, make it so harrowing, that car chase, and the stunts, and all these things that we did. It’s the same effect of going to an amusement park. You know you’re not going to fall off the roller coaster, but it seems like you’re going to go flying out of the car. And these films are like big, entertainment roller coasters. That’s my goal.
Is your signature line (‘Yippee Kiy Yay Motherf***er’) already in the script, or do you have to kind of work it in, and figure where it’s going to go?
Willis: It was an ad lib. Alan Rickman, from the first film, he was such a good bad buy. He was constantly picking on me and he said something to me, and I just happened to let that line slip out and we let it be a part of the fabric of the film. Now when we say it, John and I had an idea that I should say it right away and get it out of the way, and I tried that, but it always comes at a moment of high danger. But it’s just amazing to me that that line has lasted this long. Kids say it to me on the street, grandmoms, it’s a little awkward, but I’m happy that they say it.
Over the course of twenty-five years, you’ve gone through an entire character arc with John McClane, and all of his family problems. Can you talk about that?
Willis: Well, that stretch of time, it’s hard to compress it into a few sentences. I remember every film, and everything that we did, and where we were, and it is a life in itself. Just twenty-five years is a life in itself. I have really great memories of it, and it’s all been good. And not as crazy as it is, not many injuries. Not many people get hurt. I have a warm place in my Die Hard.
This is the first time you’ve had an adult son in a film, and how different was that for you? And Jai for you, how was it to have John McClane as your father?
Jai Courtney: It was pretty unreal of course. Never imagined I’d be apart of this franchise, especially not one of the McClane family. It was a pretty daunting prospect and Bruce was a great on-screen dad.
Willis: It was fun, I just remember it being fun. I like the ideas that you’re talking about with being a dad, and I think that I was just an OK dad with my character and son Jack, and we really set some obsacles for ourselves, that we really did not have a good relationship until the time I see him in the film. I thought he was a gangster, and whatever he was in Moscow. And also my feelings for him as a child, it just seemed like the right thing to do; to go to Moscow and try to help him, and help our story along.
For John [Moore,] what was it like to have the Russian Helicopters in there, and how did you get them in there?
John Moore: I do have an out of proportion admiration for aircraft. I wanted to film those helicopters for a long time, they’re very hard to get, and no one wants to let you fly them because they fly into the air and explode into a fiery ball and kill everyone involved. It was hard to get them because everyone was shutting them down, and the Hungarian Air Force let us fly around with them. The assault helicopter, the MI-24, hasn’t been in a big movie, so we thought ‘we’ll make it famous in this one.’ And you know, Die Hard and helicopters actually go together very well. The first film is notorious for a fire-blown helicopter falling off a big building, so we’ll do that again with the biggest helicopter in the world.
Throughout these movies, John McClane gets beat up and loses huge amounts of blood. How many pints of blood do you think he has left in him?
Willis: We’ll, we’re up to liters now. In fact I have to leave early today because I have to go get another transfusion. Apparently there is a leak, and somewhere the blood continues to trickle out of me. But yeah, sometimes we actually get a scratch, or you get kicked. I think in the last film I got kicked in the head pretty early in the morning one day, and had to get some stitches, but I don’t think we ever really bleed.
Courtney: A couple of nicks, yeah, but I messed my hand up on the wheel of the van. That was one of those over-zealous moments where John [Moore] gave me license to get angry at it, and six takes later I was like ‘we got it right? ‘Cause I don’t think I can take one more?’
A Good Day To Die Hard opens on Valentine’s Day.