Die Hard, the world’s favourite Christmas movie, would not have been as successful as it is without British star Rickman as its villain. He only started acting at 28-years-old after spending years working in a graphic design business. He went on to command theatre stages in the West End for a decade before taking on his first feature film aged 41-years-old: Die Hard. But when his agent gave him the script, he could not envision himself in it.
Rickman played the legendary German terrorist Hans Gruber opposite Bruce Willis’ hero John McClane.
Long before he agreed to be in the John McTiernan movie, he read the script and was horrified at the scenes he read. He exclaimed: “What the hell is this? I’m not doing an action movie!”
Rickman said in 2015: “I didn’t know anything about LA. I didn’t know anything about the film business … I’d never made a film before, but I was extremely cheap.” (Via The Guardian)
Eventually, the future Harry Potter actor was won over by how progressive the movie’s casting was.
Rickman revealed: “Every single Black character in that film is positive and highly intelligent. So, 28 years ago, that’s quite revolutionary. And quietly so.” Once the Severus Snape actor joined Die Hard he began changing the way the film was being made. In particular, he was keen to change a key detail about how Hans Gruber was portrayed in the movie. Originally the genius terrorist was dressed the same as his employees – overalls and guns. Rickman had other plans.
Rickman said: “When I came back, I was handed a new script. It showed that it pays to have a little bit of theatre training.
“I like feeling a bit unsafe. And theatre, of course, is deadly. [And] the good thing about starting late in this career is you go: ‘Well, what’s the worst that could happen?'”
Rickman’s additions to the movie helped it earn a whopping $141 million at the box office on a meagre $25 million budget.
Die Hard has gone down in history as one of the most iconic and recognisable action movies of all time.
The film sparked a long-running franchise that has, at the time of writing, had four sequels: Die Hard 2; Die Hard with a Vengeance; Live Free or Die Hard and A Good Day To Die Hard.
Rickman died on January 16, 2016, of terminal pancreatic cancer.
His last two films – Eye in the Sky and Alice Through the Looking Glass – were dedicated to the star’s memory.