The first Die Hard – Crystal trap with Bruce Willis is a cult movie action: we investigate behind the scenes on the legendary tank top, on who touched the role of John McClane and on the secret of the explosive weapons used …
Die Hard – Crystal Trap from 1988, iconic with his Bruce Willis action in undershirt, is a symbolic film of the eighties, the pinnacle of American pure entertainment action, confidently directed by John McTiernan and co-interpreted by the late Alan Rickman as a memorable villain, making his overseas debut. As a cult, its workmanship overflows with curiosity and we want to offer you some of the most interesting, starting from the most classic behind the scenes …
Die Hard: Crystal trap, who could have been in place of Bruce Willis
Today it will seem obvious to you, but it was not at all obvious in 1988 that Bruce Willis interpreted the hard in an action movie. Far from it. The actor was famous for his efforts on the brilliant TV series Moonlighting, and the 20th Century Fox he took a good risk in involving him, so much so that he did not even have the courage at first to insert it in the poster of the film, only to retract when he realized he had a success in the box office. However, he certainly did not treat him badly, with a substantial pay of 5 million dollars at the time, optimal for the honeymoon that Bruce planned with Demi Moore, married during the shoot.
Willis was brought up by director John McTiernan, who for Hollywood logic should have continued his collaboration with Arnold Schwarzenegger after Predator, but for this part he instead saw well an actor with a less “superheroic” build and appearance. Before the project started with McTiernan, Clint Eastwood he had acquired the film rights to the novel, contemplating interpreting and directing the adaptation, only to change his mind.
Fox considered other stars (and not) of the period: Nick Nolte (the first to decline), Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere (refused), Mel Gibson, Robert De Niro (refused), Charles Bronson (under contract elsewhere), Don Johnson, Al Pacino (refused) and Michael Madsen. McTiernan didn’t even discard John Travolta, which, on the other hand, at Fox did not go down: in those years it had been classified as “meteor”!
If you want to have a laugh, 20th Century Fox, for legal and contractual reasons whose incredible contortion we ignore, as routinely offered the lead role first of all to Frank Sinatra. He did not accept, and God forbid.
Die Hard: Bruce Willis and his tank top
Fighting a handful of assassins in undershirt: what a wonderful visual idea. The costume designers had prepared seventeen versions of the slender garment Bruce Willis wore in the filming of Die Hard – Crystal Trap. Each version showed a different sign of decay, depending on the moment of the story in which it was found. Aware of having created a mythology with a garment of an average man risen to symbolic armor (effect certainly in the intentions of McTiernan), Willis has donated the tank top to the Smithsonian in 2007.
Die Hard: The Risks of Action Sequences in Crystal Trap
Not that in Die Hard there was no use of photomontages, still analogue in those years, but most of the dangerous sequences of Crystal Trap was made on set, with stand-ins exposed to considerable dangers. Just the stunt double of Bruce one day he risked a lot, for the scene of fall into the elevator shaft, lacking the grip seriously (as seen in the scene): at the editing it was decided to keep the sequence, transforming it into another moment of suspense!
It got worse ad Alan Rickman: he filmed the first encounter with McClane, landing badly after a one meter jump, damaging the ligaments of one knee. The doctor ordered him not to load that leg, so in the dialogue with McClane later turned the very bad Hans Gruber, standing, he is putting all his weight on the other leg, even if we do not realize it!
But perhaps the most incredible risk was taken screenwriter Jeb Stuart. Just in the weeks he was writing the script, he quarreled with his wife and left the house, driving away in anger. In the middle of the night, there was a truck in front of him carrying refrigerators: at one point one of the crates on top broke off and fell into his car! Luckily, it was an empty chest, but Stuart thought about it. If he died crushed, he couldn’t apologize to his wife. The reunification at that point in the script it became a fundamental narrative aspect.
Die Hard – Crystal trap and very loud weapons
To ensure the plausibility of Die Hard, they were used as is often the case real weapons modified for blanks, but McTiernan wanted to exasperate the lightning in every shooting, so the special effects technicians on the set created special cartridges that were more choreographed and powerful than normal, so much that they needed further special modifications to the weapons themselves. They resulted deafening bursts during filming, so much so that Rickman himself had difficulty acting, disturbed by the violence of the noise. In post-production, this maniacal research continued: the sound designer Richard Shorr, in agreement with the director, discarded the use of the typical repertoire sound effects for the shots, recording from scratch all the real shots of those firearms, in a shooting range. Guess what: in Texas.