Frank Sinatra Was First Choice To Play John McClane In 'Die Hard'

As it's December tomorrow, I think it's finally acceptable to use the C-word (no, the other one). I know it feels like Halloween was only last weekend, but here we are - it's almost time to start decking your halls and jingling your bells.

Credit: Die Hard/20th Century Fox

You'll also want to make sure you carve out time in your busy festive calendar to watch some classic festive films - Elf, Home Alone and It's a Wonderful Life are all essential viewing in December, but it's not truly Christmas until you've dusted off the Die Hard DVD and given it a watch.

The 1988 festive classic might not be filled with much Christmas cheer, but it's bloody good, isn't it?

Who doesn't want to see Hans Gruber plummet to his death for the 20th time while eating a mince pie? Or hear John McClane say 'Yippee-ki-yay' once more while you're knocking back a Baileys?

Because, let's be honest, Bruce Willis' McClane is one of the most iconic action heroes of all time... but it was nearly so different.


Believe it or not, the role of McClane was initially offered to Frank Sinatra. Yup, Old Blue Eyes himself could have been the lead in Die Hard and I honestly don't know how to feel about that.

Fox were contractually obligated to offer the role to Sinatra after he appeared in the 1966 film The Detective, which was based on a book of the same name - the sequel to that book, Nothing Last Forever, is what Die Hard was based on.

Thanks to modern technology we can see how that would have looked. Credit: PA/20th Century Fox

The singer, who was seventy-fucking-three at the time, turned down the offer. Probably best.

But this still didn't mean that movie-makers were beating down a path to our man Bruce's door, because at the time the film was being made, Willis was best known as a comedy actor due to his role in Moonlighting.

So who else was on the wishlist? Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked, but he decided to pass on it, too. Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford and Don Johnson were also offered the role and all turned it down.

Eventually Willis was offered the part, but as the studio were unsure on the star's power to pull in audiences, the original marketing campaign focused on the 'action' aspect of the film rather than Willis' face. Harsh.


Anyway, Willis proved them all wrong because the film went on to smash it at the box office earning $140.7 million (£104.1m) by the ends of its run in cinemas. Rightly or wrongly, it got four sequels, and has a solid 8.2 rating on IMDB.

The film regularly tops 'best Christmas movie' lists, and almost 30 years later it's still being shown in cinemas over the festive period.

Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuckers. And a happy new year.

Featured Image Credit: 20th Century Fox / PA

Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist at LADbible. Claire graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA in journalism. She’s previously worked at Trinity Mirror. Since joining LADbible, Claire has worked on pieces for the UOKM8? mental health campaign, the Yemen crisis, life in the Calais Jungle as well as a profile of a man who is turning himself into a cyborg.

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