MOVIES

Why Frank Sinatra Was Offered John McClane Before Bruce Willis

Over 35 years after the film’s release, it’s easy to see “Die Hard” as a success story: The movie, which opened in a mere 21 theaters on July 15, 1988, was budgeted at $28 million and brought in $141 million. But before production started, actors weren’t sold on the project’s potential. “Die Hard” screenwriter Steven E. de Souza told the Daily Beast that several leading men rejected the role. “You had all these ‘Rambo’ movies,” he explained. “We’ve had ‘Commando,’ ‘Predator,’ and in the wake of all of these, the hero, they said, was like a p****. The reaction? ‘This guy’s no hero.'”

The list of stars who passed on the part included Arnold Schwarzenegger (who was trying to get into comedy via the movie “Twins”), Richard Gere, Burt Reynolds, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Nick Nolte, Don Johnson, Mel Gibson, Richard Dean Anderson, and James Caan.  Meanwhile, Willis was interested in playing John McClane — as eager as Schwarzenegger was to try out comedy, the “Moonlighting” star was desperate to prove himself as more than just a TV actor. But he was contractually obligated to said series until his co-star Cybill Shepherd got pregnant. Willis told Entertainment Weekly, “They shut down the show for 11 weeks –- just the right amount of time for me to run around over at Nakatomi tower.”

Not only did Willis snag the starring role, he got the paycheck to go along with it. Willis was paid $5 million to shoot the film, making him one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood at the time.

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