When Live Free or Die Hard came out, I couldn’t believe I’d been a journalist long enough to actually cover a new Die Hard movie. Six years later, I’m on my second. A Good Day to Die Hard is the fifth film in the series, and Bruce Willis is back as John McClane. He’s again in the wrong place at the wrong time, this time in Moscow where his son is involved with a Russian political prisoner. Willis gave a press conference for the new film and I wasn’t going to miss my chance to ask a question and report on his comment to the press corps.
We ask Bruce Willis a three-part question: What made you feel that it was time for another Die Hard? What were your thoughts on coming out in February instead of the summer? And did you ever think about getting Bonnie Bedelia back and seeing if John and Holly could work things out? (He answers two of them.)
Bruce Willis: I always think of Bonnie Bedelia and having her coming back. Those things are unfortunately out of my hands. It has to do with the story.
We only do another Die Hard when they have another really complicated title that no one quite understands. We had just gotten to where we understand Live Free or Die Hard and then now we have A Good Day to Die Hard which, I have to be honest with you, I’m a little baffled still by that one. But it’s a good movie and they’re both good movies.
We have to come up with a story. That’s the thing that triggers another film. This film was much more germane to the Die Hard franchise in that it has to do with family and family conflict. That’s always been a high-ticket number with Die Hard. In this case, I was fighting with my son, Jai Courtney.
I have to tell you because you didn’t see, because it’s not in the film because somehow it got scratched, but why my son Jack and I have such a conflicted relationship is because when he was 15-years-old he set South Philadelphia on fire. You don’t hear those things in the film. I guess it was a little too “shocking.” So that’s why we did this film. I’m not sure if I answered your question. It’s a complicated process, a long process to get one of these films to get up off the ground.
Bruce Willis jokes about keeping fit after 25 years of Die Hard.
The difference between trying to be fit and not being fit really means the difference between life and death. I just made that up. There is no life and death in Die Hard.There is just life. We have really highly technical stunt personnel who keep us safe even though it looks like we’ve leapt out of the 110th floor of the Hotel Ukraina. We’re okay. Jai, not so much. Apparently he’s still hearing ringing in one of his ears. It’s okay really. They keep us safe.
Minor differences between filming Die Hard and A Good Day to Die Hard 25 years later.
Not a tremendous difference. No, it’s a very simple difference. I get up a little slower from the ground after I’ve fallen into something, that dumpster I fell into. But yeah, it’s okay. I’m doing alright. I’m here today.
Bruce Willis on the enduring character of John McClane.
I think that over the past 25 years, there’s been a certain amount of good will that has been visited on these films that the character and the characters engender. People root for you. People want to see you because you know someone like me, somebody that thinks he’s too smart, somebody who thinks he has everything figured out when, in truth, he doesn’t have anything figured out. And now we have my son who thinks he knows everything and that he has everything figured out, but no one here and no one on Earth really has everything figured out. It’s fun to watch people try to figure it out and 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 that we did, it’s the same effect of going to an amusement park. It’s like going on a roller coaster. You really know you’re not gonna fall off the roller coaster but it sure seems like your gonna go flying out of the car. These films are like big entertainment roller coasters. That’s the goal anyways. That’s my goal.
Bruce Willis on saying “Yippee ki-yay...” in every Die Hard.
It was an ad-lib. Alan Rickman was such a good bad guy. He was constantly picking on me. He said something to me and I just happen to let that line slip out and it just became part of the fabric of the film. Now when we say it, John had an idea we should say it right away and get it out of the way. We tried that. It always comes at a moment of high danger. It’s just amazing to me that the 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. Football players. Basketball players.
Bruce Willis on John McClane as a father.
I think that I was just an okay dad for most of my life with my character’s son Jack. We really set some obstacles for ourselves that we really did not have a very good relationship from the time he set Philadelphia on fire until the time I see him in this film. I thought he was a gangster and I thought that he was in much worse trouble than he happened to be in Moscow. Regardless of my feelings for him as a child, it seemed like the right thing to do to go and try to help him and help our story along.
Someone asks Bruce Willis, after five movies, how many pints of blood are left in John McClane?
We’re up to liters now. As a matter of fact, I have to leave early today to go get another transfusion. Apparently there’s a leak and the blood continues to trickle out of me, so if I look a little pale today... That’s real blood sometimes. Sometimes we get a little scratch or you get kicked. I think on the last film I got kicked in the head pretty early in the morning one day and had to get some stitches. I hardly ever really bleed.
Bruce Willis on John McClane in Russia.
Moscow was really built for a couple of fish-out-of-water like us. I can’t imagine a bigger ocean of non-communication than Eastern Europe and Russia. I think we were all excited about the idea of getting out of the United States and having the film be more international. So we set Jack in a job that was pretty obscure and undercover. It just made a lot of sense. I don’t speak any other languages really. We got a couple jokes out of that. It just opens it up. I like seeing myself not be able to figure things out, not being able to figure out how the car works, not being able to figure out what someone is saying to me. I can hardly understand English. To try to shoot in Moscow brought that along. We had the opportunity to get Yuliya [Snigir] in the film. She’s a big star in Moscow and is awfully cute in this film. She’s a great helicopter pilot so we had that going. And John [Moore] contributed the biggest ballroom on Earth. It was big and we filled it with glass. But it was great. It never felt like we had any hiccups. We had great crews there.
Bruce Willis entertains more Die Hard spin-offs.
Die Hard on the moon... Die Hard in the center of the Earth....
Bruce Willis on why Die Hard has lasted 25 years.
I’ve had the opportunity lately to think about those things in terms of action movies and how they compare or compete with each other. I have come to this understanding: I don’t compete with anyone. I compete with myself. I just try to improve my work and try to better than I did the last time. So I’m not really competing with Moonrise Kingdom or Looper or any other film. I just try to make it look like I believe what I’m saying in the film and that I really feel the hatred emotion or love for my son.
I wish everyone well. I’m still a big film fan. I still go to see films. I go to see other action films and I go to see comedies and all kinds of weird things. There is no competition. I’ve been talking about this the last couple days about how does it feel to be in a film that has stretched over twenty-five years, but you can only see that from the end of it. No one ever knew at the beginning that we were gonna be doing five of these films. It’s a strange, great honor to be able to still be able to run down the street and do what we do, and make it look fun and scary some times and interesting and still have the core of the character in there.
Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.