It’s quite possibly the greatest action movie of all time, but Die Hard and its competent but less-awesome sequels have some pretty unusual backstories. Including the almost-involvement of the Chairman of the Board:
When it was first optioned, Nothing Lasts Forever [the novel on which the original Die Hard was based – j] was going to be made as a vehicle for Frank Sinatra, who’d already starred in an adaptation of Thorp’s earlier novel, The Detective. Sinatra would have again played Joe Leland, an elder hero who’d probably spend far less time crawling through ducts and swinging from fire hoses.
When that production fell apart, Nothing Lasts Forever was reworked as another 80s action vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger, which would have served as a sequel to his 1985 hit, Commando. This would presumably have meant that Arnie would have played John Matrix again, this time heaving his rippling bulk into Fox Plaza lifts to rescue his daughter Jenny from terrorists. What a movie that would have been.
Instead, former TV actor Bruce Willis was brought on board, his character rewritten as a younger yet still cynical cop by the name of John McClane. The movie was retitled Die Hard, and the rest is action movie history.