Why Hans Gruber's Death in 'Die Hard' Looks So Realistic

'Tis the season for shooting up terrorists, if you're a huge fan of 'Die Hard.' The action-packed Christmas thriller has endured as an unexpected holiday staple for 30 years now, thanks to the likability of Bruce Willis' wisecracking protagonist John McClane and Alan Rickman's menacing performance as the villain Hans Gruber. But one of Rickman's best moments in the movie had nothing to do with his acting chops.

At the climax of 'Die Hard,' Gruber falls from the 30th floor of the fictional Nakatomi Plaza. And Gruber's expression perfectly captures the reaction of someone who realizes they're about to fall from 70 feet in the air. That's because Rickman wasn't acting at all; he actually thought he was about to plummet to his death.  

Before shooting the scene, director John McTiernan told Rickman - who did his own stunt for the climax - that he would be dropped at the count of three. But on the count of two, McTiernan let Rickman go in order to capture a genuine look of terror on his face. And, yeah, it worked alright.

Now if only they'd figured out a way to trick him into doing a better American accent...

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