Bruce Willis hated this Die Hard 2 line; never had a problem getting beaten up on-screen

In a new book, Die Hard 2: Die Harder director Renny Harlin says there was a line star Bruce Willis refused to say.

Die Hard 2 Bruce Willis

While Renny Harlin was promoting his film, The Bricklayer, JoBlo asked him about the making of Die Hard 2: Die Harder, and he had high praise for star Bruce Willis, who he compared, favourably, to the new generation of action stars, who seem reluctant to ever allow themselves to get beaten up on-screen, Willis never had this issue, said Harlin: “I really wanted Bruce Willis to get really screwed up. His face is a bloody mess by the end of the movie, and like you said, it really does make the character more heroic. They are really taking punishment and keep going.”

However, as we reported a little while back, there was one line Willis didn’t love in Die Hard 2: Just the fax, ma’am…

It’s a line that made audiences laugh, but, in his book “The Last Action Heroes,” writer Nick de Semlyan interviews Harlin, and the director reveals it was a line the actor hated. In the book, Harlin says the only conflict between him and Willis happened because the latter wanted to play the great detective John McClane in a more serious way than he had in the original Die Hard, 1988’s biggest action movie. “One-liners and jokey comments are bullshit: that’s not real life. In a real situation, with lives on the line, you can’t say that kind of thing.”

According to Harlin, a compromise was made where Willis would do however many takes he wanted in a serious way, but Harlin would then be allowed to film a lighter, more humorous version. Most of these funny takes wound up in the final cut. But Willis drew the line by saying “just the fax” during a bit where a flirty airport worker helps him send a fax of a dead bad guy’s fingerprints. “He said it’s cheesy, it’s stupid. I’m not going to say it.” Finally, producer Joel Silver got involved, and the line was shot as planned.

Whatever the case, Die Hard 2: Die Harder wound up being a major financial hit, grossing $240 million worldwide, which is over $100 million more than the classic first instalment made. Ironically, the book states that when Die Hard 2 came out, Willis swore he was done with the character, saying, “Sure, Die Hard 3: He’s Dead. No, I think we’ve pretty much said everything about John McClane and terrorists.” Willis would go on to make Die Hard with a Vengeance, Live Free or Die Hard, and the now infamous A Good Day to Die Hard. Since being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, resulting in aphasia, Willis has been retired from acting. Famously married to Demi Moore from 1987 to 2000, Willis is now spending his days with his wife Emma Heming and his five daughters. And now is definitely time to look back at some of his classics, as well as some his movies that never really got their due, such as Antoine Fuqua’s Tears of the Sun (2003), 1991’s Hudson Hawk, The Last Boy Scout (also 1991), Pulp Fiction (1994), Armageddon (1998), The Sixth Sense (1999), Sin City (2005), and, of course, his classic TV show Moonlighting, where he starred opposite Cybill Shepherd.

If you want more classic stories from the eighties and nineties golden age of action movies, I highly recommend checking out de Semlyan’s book. Buy it here!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.