The Movie “Die Hard” Could Have Had a Different Leading Character

Actor Bruce Willis launched his film career with the lead role in the 1988 film Die Hard, playing the role of New York City police detective John McClane. The film was based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever. While Willis was offered the role, another actor had to be considered first — Frank Sinatra. That’s because he played the lead role of Det. Sgt. Joe Leland in Die Hard’s prequel, The Detective, and it was in Sinatra’s contract that producers were legally required to offer Ol’ Blue Eyes the lead role in any sequels that followed. Given that Sinatra was 70 at the time, he obviously turned down the part. Although Willis was cast as John McClane, the part was offered to a variety of actors, including Arnold Schwarzenegger (who turned it down because he wanted to get into comedy), Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, James Caan and Richard Gere. Even Willis turned it down the first time around because of his obligation to the TV series Moonlighting. However, when his co-star Cybil Shepherd became pregnant and the show took a break from filming, Willis was free to film Die Hard. It’s a pretty good bet that all the actors who turned Die Hard down regret that decision, since a whopping five sequels followed.