Bruce Willis reprises his iconic role as police detective John McClane in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” set against the backdrop of deadly corruption in Russia. McClane arrives in Moscow to track down his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney) and is stunned to discover he’s working undercover to protect a government whistle-blower. With their own necks on the line, the McClanes are forced to overcome their differences in order to get their whistle blower to safty and thwart a potentially disastrous crime in the most desolate place on Earth, Chernobyl.
At a recent press conference we spoke to Bruce Willis about doing stunt work 25 years after the original film premiered, bringing back the franchise in 2013, his signature line, playing a character over such a long period of time, and taking the franchise out of the U.S. for the first time and into Russia.
Bruce can you talk about the stunts and the difference between doing this film and doing it 25 years ago?
Bruce Willis: The difference between trying to be fit and not fit really means life and death. I just made that up (laughs). There is no life and death in Die Hard there’s just life and we have the greatest stunt personal that keeps us safe even though it looks like we lept out of the 110th floor but we’re OK. Jai, not so much, apparently he’s still hearing ringing out of one of his ears. I didn’t see a tremendous difference, it’s more of a simple difference. I get up a little slower off the ground after I fall. But it’s Ok I’m doing alright and I’m here today (laughs).
Bruce what made you feel that it was time for another Die Hard and did you think about getting Bonnie Bedelia back in this one?
Bruce Willis: I always think about Bonnie Bedelia and having her come back but those things are unfortunately out of my hands. We only do another ‘Die Hard’ when they have another complicated title that no one quite understands (laughs). We’ve just gotten to where we might understand ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ and now we have ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ which I have to be honest I’m a little baffled by it still. But they’re both good movies. You have to come up with a story, that’s the thing that triggers a movie. This film was much more germane to the ‘Die Hard’ franchise in that it has to do with family and family conflict. In this case I’m fighting my son played by Jai Courtney. I have to tell you about a scene that is not in the film it somehow got scratched but why my son Jack and I have such a conflicted relationship. It’s because when he was 15 years old he set south Philadelphia on fire, you don’t hear that in the film but I guess it was a little too shocking. It’s a complicted process to get one of these films off of the ground.
After Playing John McClane what do you like about him?
Bruce Willis: I think over the past 25 years there’s been a certain amount of good will that has been visited in these films. People root for you, they want to see you because they know someone like me. Somebody that thinks he’s too smart, thinks he has everything figured out when in truth he doesn’t have anything figured out. Now we have my son who thinks he knows everything and thinks he has everything figured out. It’s fun to watch people figure it out and get out of each others way. Along the way director John Moore and his team make it so heroic, that car chase and the stunts have the same effect as going to an amusement park or a roller-coaster. You really now you’re not going to fall off the roller coaster but it sure seems like you’re going to go flying out of the car. These films are like big entertainment roller coasters, that’s the goal anyways.
When it comes to saying your ‘Die Hard’ signature line when do you decide that this is a good place to say it and what was the origin of that line?
Bruce Willis: It was actually an ad-lib. Alan Rickman from the first film, he was such a good bad guy, he was constantly picking on me and he said something to me and I just happened 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 that we should say it and get it out of the way but it always comes at a moment of high danger. It’s just amazing to me that that line has lasted this long. Kids say it to me on the street, grandma’s too but I’m happy that they say it.
Bruce can you talk about playing a character over that long stretch of time?
Bruce Willis: Well that stretch of time is a pretty large one. I remember every film and I remember everything that we did and where we were. It is a life in itself because 25 years is a life in itself. As crazy as it is and as crazy as they try to make these films there hasn’t been many injuries, not that many people get hurt. I have a warm place in my heart for ‘Die Hard’.
This film being about family how do you draw from you yourself being a father in real life?
Bruce Willis: It’s my favorite job being a father. I have four girls now and they’re a captive audience that can’t run away from you even if they don’t like your jokes. I just enjoy it, making my kids laugh and I still do some of the dumbest things. My youngest daughter now I try to make her laugh. One is a job, it’s a film concept and the other is real life. We try to get them ready to go out to the real world and grow up, to be woman that have good morals and are nice people. I never knew it till they got older that I was having any impact on them.
This is the first time you had an adult son in a film how different was that for you?
Bruce WIllis: I like the idea that you guys are talking about how is it being a dad and how is it being a dad on screen. I was just an OK dad for most of my life with my character’s son Jack and we really set some obstacles for ourselves that we really did not have a good relationship. So by the time I see him in this film I thought he was a gangster or in much worse trouble then he happened to be in Moscow. Regardless of my feelings for him as a child it seemed the right thing to do and go help him.
Bruce how was it bring your character to another country for the first time was it kind of like a fish out of water?
Bruce Willis: Moscow was built for us, a fish out of water. I can’t imagine a bigger ocean of non communication than 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 sent Jack to a job that was pretty obscure and undercover. It just made a lot of sense and I don’t speak any other languages really and we got a couple jokes out of that. I like seeing myself not being able to figure things out and not being able to figure out how the car works and not being able to figure out what somebody is saying to me. I can hardly understand English so to try to shoot in Moscow was exciting. It was great there never felt that there were hiccups we had a great crew there.
Bruce why do you think this genre and your character have survived the last 25 years and why it all works?
Bruce Willis: In terms of action movies and how they compare and compete with each other, I feel that I don’t compete with anyone, I compete with myself. I just try to improve my work and try to do better then 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. I wish everyone well and I’m still a big film fan, I go see other action film and I go see other comedies and there is no competition. When it comes to being in a film that has stretched over a period of 25 years, you can only see it at the end of it. You can never have imagined that we would be doing 5 of these films. It’s a strange great honor to still be able to run down the street and do what we do and make it look fun and scary sometimes and still have the core of the character.
“A Good Day to Die Hard” is in theaters February 14th.