Bruce Willis transitioned from TV sit-com actor to Hollywood movie star in the late 80s with Die Hard. It was so successful, that it was soon followed up by two sequels. 1995’s Die Hard with a Vengeance is undoubtedly one of the best Die Hard movies and one of the best Bruce Willis movies, but it almost ended very differently.
In the ending of the released action movie, Willis’ John McClane foils villain Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons, playing the brother of Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber) by shooting a power line as he attempts to escape in a helicopter, causing it to crash and explode. But an alternative ending was not only written, but actually filmed with Willis and Irons meeting up in Simon’s Eastern European home.
In the alternative ending to the thriller movie, McClane toys with Simon, turning the tables on the ‘Simon Says’ game that the villain has used throughout the movie. McClane places a Chinese rocket launcher on the desk between them, and its spun around to face both men, eventually Simon fires it and it kills him but doesn’t effect McClane, who is wearing a flak jacket.
Writer Jonathan Hensleigh explained that the studio’s executives and producers thought it made McClane look too cruel, that his psychological attack on Simon Gruber made him look “too cruel and menacing.”
Willis also disliked this ending but for a different reason, telling Entertainment Weekly in 2007; “I remember on the third one, Die Hard with a Vengeance, we reshot the ending – which I predicted, not that I’m smart or anything, I just knew that the ending that we were going with wasn’t a Die Hard ending. It wouldn’t satisfy the audience when they said ‘One Year Later’ at the end – you never want to see that.”
For more high-octane thrills, check out our guide to the best spy movies.