Frank Sinatra was forced to turn down the Bruce Willis film

Frank Sinatra had to make a difficult decision in the late 1980s when 20th Century Fox offered him the role of a lifetime. The iconic singer was still performing well into the 1980s, even starring in his last big screen role in 1995’s Young at Heart. But in 1988, he was given the choice to become the best-known movie cop of all time: John McClane.

Sinatra was offered the lead role in Die Hard, the first film in the action-packed series that has since spawned four sequels and grossed a whopping $1.4 billion worldwide.

Old Blue Eyes may not be the first person you think of when casting McClane, but it all came down to lawless Hollywood contracts. Sinatra had previously starred in a 1968 film, The Detective, as lead man Joe Leland. This movie was originally based on a book of the same name by author Roderick Thorp. It also had a sequel titled Nothing Lasts Forever.

Nothing Lasts Forever was the basis for the plot of Die Hard; however, some major changes were made. Leland was renamed John McClane and his daughter was never killed.

As a result, Die Hard was actually a direct sequel to the 1968 film The Detective, which starred Sinatra.

Die Hard’s sequel status meant that, because Sinatra had played Leland in ’68, the studio was obligated to offer him the role of McClane.

However, at that time, Sinatra was 70 years old. While he certainly was a sprightly star, there was probably a slim chance that he would have been able to carry out the actions required to take on the role of John McClane.

As a result, Sinatra turned down the role of Die Hard.

However, Bruce Willis did not immediately take the role. Instead, the studio knocked on the doors of a few other major Hollywood actors before they even considered it.

However, Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the top of the list. When he approached him, he hastened to reject him. Having starred in such massive male hits as Predator, The Terminator and Command, he wanted a makeover. Arnie refused to try to get into any comedy work.

Sylvester Stallone was next on the list, as were Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, James Caan, and Richard Gere, to name just a few.

Eventually, Willis was considered and later asked to join the film, but turned that down as well.

At the time, Willis was best known for his work on the television show Moonlighting. As a result, he couldn’t leave his TV for weeks to shoot a movie.

Luckily for Willis, fate intervened. His Moonlighting co-star Cybil Shepherd became pregnant that same year, allowing filming to pause for a short time.

This hiatus on Moonlighting allowed Willis to film Die Hard.

Die Hard is available to watch on Disney Plus now.


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