10 Things You Might Not Know About DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE

Simon says, read 10 things you might not know about the third film in the Die Hard franchise...
1. Whilst looking for a script for Die Hard 3, many standalone screenplays were considered with the idea being to adapt them to fit the character of John McClane and any other recurring characters from the Die Hard franchise that might also fit. Nearly all of the scripts under consideration were rejected by Bruce Willis on the grounds that they felt too similar to or retreads of the first Die Hard film. One of these scripts, originally titled Troubleshooter, would've seen McClane fighting terrorists on a Caribbean cruise line, but Willis rejected it for being too similar to Under Siege. Troubleshooter was later repurposed for Speed 2: Cruise Control.

2. Jonathan Hensleigh (who wrote Jumanji and Armageddon) had penned a script entitled Simon Says which was originally positioned as a Brandon Lee vehicle, with the character that would become Zeus created with an actress in mind. Even at this stage Hensleigh's script was almost exactly as Die Hard With A Vengeance turned out to be, with an unlikely pair teaming-up to stop a series of bomb threats across a city, doing as "Simon says". After Lee's untimely death in 1993, Warner Bros. bought the script and retooled it as the basis of the fourth film in the buddy-cop Lethal Weapon series, with Riggs and Murtaugh racing to stop the bombs. When Mel Gibson became unavailable/disinterested in a quick return to the Lethal Weapon franchise, Warner Bros. sold the script to Fox where it was presented to Bruce Willis who gave the thumbs-up. Hensleigh was bought onboard and made minor adjustments to adapt his script to make it more inline with a Die Hard film. How minor? Well in the DVD commentary, Hensleigh says that the first hour of the film is his original Simon Says script word for word, with nothing more than the character names changed.

3. In a rather troubling revelation, in that it makes you wonder exactly what type of kids Jonathan Hensleigh hung about with in his youth, the screenwriter revealed that the idea for the plot of Simon Says/Die Hard With A Vengeance came to him when he imagined what would happen if one of his old childhood friends, who was injured after Hensleigh threw a rock at him, decided to seek revenge on him as an adult.

I mean, I'm not condoning his actions and no one wants a rock thrown at them, but planting a series of bombs across New York City is a bit of an extreme payback, no?

4. Die Hard With A Vengeance director John McTiernan (who directed the first installment), returned to the Die Hard franchise largely on the strength of Hensleigh's script, turning down the chance to direct Batman Forever in favour of this film (just imagine if Joel Schumacher had never been given the reigns to the Bat-franchise - no Batman And Robin!). Hensleigh's instructions were to add a robbery to his Simon Syas script, to bring the story in line with other Die Hard films, with his original plan having the villains burgle the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The idea was vetoed before filming began, but McTiernan loved the concept so much that when he signed up to direct the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair one of the changes he made to the screenplay involved adapting the central heist from two bank robberies to an infiltration of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

5. Sean Connery was said to have been approached to play Simon Peter Gruber/Colonel Peter Krieg but turned it down as the character was too despicable. Jeremy Irons was of course eventually cast. Unbeknown to the majority of international audiences, after treading the boards on the West End stage, Irons had begun his broadcast career as a member of the Play Away team, a 1970s BBC children's television programme where he'd regularly sing songs and play games like "Simon Says". This brought a whole new level to his character in Die Hard With A Vengeance, and sure beats Hensleigh's injured friend in the 'grew up to be a psycho' stakes...

6. Although the character had always existed, the newly named and fleshed out Zeus Carver was written with Laurence Fishburne in mind, and he was offered the part. Fishburne wanted a higher fee than was on the table, and Die Hard With A Vengeance producer Andy Vajna allegedly verbally agreed to it, although no contracts were signed.

Fishburne had earlier turned down the role of Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, which as you likely know was eventually played by Samuel L. Jackson. Fishburne had been talked out of playing Jules by his representatives who wanted him to only accept leading parts, otherwise he would be stuck career-wise as a supporting actor, but pushed him to accept the role of Zeus Carver as it would be an above title co-lead.

Pulp Fiction premiered at the Cannes Film Festival during the same time as Fishburne's pay negotiations for Die Hard With A Vengeance. Producer Vajna attended the event to support Willis who played Butch Coolidge in the Quentin Tarantino film. Tarantino recalled that Vajna was so impressed by Jackson's performance that he offered him the part of Carver then and there. Fishburne later filed a lawsuit against Vajna's company Cinergi for reneging on a verbal agreement, and received a settlement.

7. The famous sandwich board scene was filmed in Washington Heights in order to avoid any conflict/riot in Harlem. The street signs in Audubon Ave. between 173rd and 177th Streets, along with several store awnings and signs, were replaced to replicate Harlem, and the sandwich board itself that Bruce Willis wore was blank. The slogan was digitally added to the board during post-production. (For the film's commercial television runs, the slogan read "I Hate Everybody").

8. After Die Hard With A Vengeance was released, screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh found himself to be in demand, but not solely for his script writing talents. Hensleigh was actually detained and questioned by the FBI as the agency were said to be alarmed by how much detail the writer had put into the film's heist, primarily that the New York Federal Reserve contained more gold than Fort Knox, despite the public conception otherwise.

Hensleigh pointed out that the information had all being made public in a New York Times article years earlier, which formed the bulk of his research. Clearly the Fed's didn't have a NYT subscription.

9. Die Hard With A Vengeance originally had a very different and much darker ending which was shot and edited into early drafts of the movie. Set some time after the events in New York, in this version the robbery succeeds and John McClane had been used as the scapegoat for everything that went wrong. Simon Gruber has double-crossed most of his accomplices, exported the loot to a safe hiding place somewhere in Hungary, and had the gold turned into statuettes of the Empire State Building in order to smuggle it out of the country.

Finding himself fired from the NYPD after more than 20 years on the force, and without his pension because of his dishonorable discharge, McClane became obsessed with Simon and eventually tracks him down using the batch number on the bottle of aspirins. After shadowing him for some time, McClane confronts Gruber in a bar in Hungary and invites him to play a game called "McClane Says" which involves a form of Russian roulette with a small Chinese rocket launcher that has had the sights removed, meaning it is impossible to determine which end is which. McClane then asks Simon some riddles similar to the ones he played in New York. When Simon gets a riddle wrong, McClane forces him at gunpoint to fire the launcher, which fires the rocket through Simon, killing him. The closing shots of the film reveal that McClane was wearing a flak jacket the entire time, and so could not have been killed by the rocket launcher.

Hensleigh's intention was to show that the events in New York and the subsequent repercussions had tilted McClane psychologically, but although this ending was orignally signed off and filmed with both Willis and Irons it was dropped because the studio thought it showed a more cruel and menacing side to McClane, a man who killed for revenge rather than in self-defense. The studio was also displeased with the lack of action in the scene, feeling that it did not fit as a "climax" and therefore chose to reshoot the finale as an action sequence at a significant monetary cost.

10. This new ending came so late in the day that the official novelisation of the film had already been written and bound for publication. D. Chiel's adaptation of Die Hard with a Vengeance reveals Zeus' backstory and how police misconduct had led to the death of his brother years earlier, and why he's currently looking after his nephews.

The book also includes the original rocket launcher ending, and it would seem that after this was replaced quite a few more cuts were made to Die Hard With A Vengeance to adapt the tone of the film throughout, because Chiel details just how far McClane has fallen since Die Hard 2: Die Harder. His life is consumed with loss and depression, and so that cold, cruel ending would've been quite apt for the character's tone.

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