Hollywood movies are known to go through various changes while in production; the iconic Die Hard films are no exception. The 1988 action film holds a special place in the hearts of many, but there was always one scene that wasn’t clear. How did McClane know that Gruber was one of the terrorists?
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Die Hard’s screenwriter recently revealed that there were scenes that were removed that would have fully explained how he knew, and no, it wasn’t Alan Rickman’s bad American accent.
Screenwriter Steven E. de Souza cleared up the confusion by explaining, “Originally, they get off the truck, the camera craned up, you saw them in a circle and Alan Rickman says, ‘Synchronize your watches,’” recalled de Souza. “They all put their arms out in a circle with the camera moving down and they all had the same Tag Heuer watch. If you notice, the first guy Bruce kills almost by accident going down the steps, he searches the body, looks at the IDs.”
The film shows Bruce Willis’s character taking out the bad guys one by one and ransacking their bodies. He was making a connection between them and their watches. This was supposed to help him with their identification.
De Souza added:“He steals the cigarettes, which is a laugh. He looks at the watch, which gets another laugh because you’re thinking he might steal the watch. As he kills each guy, he notices they all had the same watch… When Bruce offers the cigarette to Alan Rickman, Bruce sees the watch. You see his eyes look at the watch. That’s how he knows that he is one of the terrorists.”
The moment was lost after the film editors did what they always do. They edited or cut entire scenes out altogether. This, unfortunately, was exactly what happened to these scenes that would have explained perfectly how Bruce knew Gruber was a terrorist.
De Souza explained that once the scene of Gruber and his team synchronizing their watches was cut, the moment no longer made sense in the film.
Bringing the iconic 80’s action film to the big screen was a team endeavor- writing, editing and creating. A few missing details didn’t stop the film or Bruce Willis from becoming a box office hit. Watch the video below to see again when Hans Gruber meets John McClane for the first time.