'Die Hard' plot mystery finally solved
"Die Hard." (Screenshot)
You probably wonder this every Christmas when you cue up Die Hard on your parents’ DVD player: Midway through the film, when they first meet, how did Bruce Willis’ John McClane know that Alan Rickman’s “Bill Clay” was really the terrorist Hans Gruber?
I always attributed it to McClane’s police intuition. Alas, that is not true.
The reason McClane figures out “Clay” is really Gruber comes down to a series of deleted scenes.
As /Film reports, Steven E. De Souza, who wrote the movie with Jeb Stuart, revealed this factoid at a recent 30th anniversary screening of his film The Running Man.
In an earlier cut of the movie, Gruber and his terrorist henchmen synchronize matching Tag Heuer watches. As McClane kills the baddies, he notices that the timepieces are all the same. And when he offers “Clay” the cigarette, he spots the same watch.
“You see his eyes look at the watch. That’s how he knows that he is one of the terrorists,” De Souza says.
So what was the hitch?
Gruber’s planned getaway in an ambulance was improvised at the end of filming so when director John McTiernan shot the “synchronize your watches” scene, there was no ambulance visible in the background.
“John says to the editor, ‘Get the scissors in there. Cut as soon as you can when they get off the truck so we don’t see there’s no ambulance,’” De Souza says. “Now without ‘Synchronize your watches’ all of these moments where Bruce looks at these guys’ watches makes no sense.”
So when you’re viewing the film again in nine months pay attention to that scene.