Published On: Thu, Jul 28th, 2022

Die Hard star on why Frank Sinatra and Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down action classic | Films | Entertainment

Before Bruce Willis was cast in his best-loved movie, a ton of action stars turned down playing John McClane. The likes of Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Burt Reynolds, Mel Gibson and Paul Newman were approached. But did you know Frank Sinatra and Arnold Schwarzenegger were too?

FBI Special Agent Big Johnson star Robert Davi, who is taking part in a special Die Hard screening Q&A with director John McTiernan in London tonight, shared how his two friends turned down playing John McClane.

Arnie was an obvious casting choice in this late 1980s period of macho muscle action heroes but decided to make Twins instead, branching out into comedy.

However, The Terminator star did end up seeing the movie with Davi, who shared exclusively with “I remember watching it for the first time with Schwarzenegger because we were good friends at that moment as we’d done Raw Deal together. We went to 20th Century Fox to watch it and it was just the impact of it, y’know? Bruce Willis running around shirtless, with his feet bleeding. There was some mythological… a Christ-like sacrificing aspect to it.”

Davi became firm friends with Sinatra after making his first movie with the Rat Pack star in Contract on Cherry Street back in the 1970s. He spoke of how the crooner was the first to be asked to star in Die Hard out of a contractual obligation.

The 71-year-old shared: “He did a film called The Detective and the character he played was John Leland and because of that, Sinatra had the sequel rights to anything that author Richard Thorp wrote. So when he wrote Nothing Lasts Forever, which was the blueprint for Die Hard, they had to go to Sinatra first, but he didn’t do it as was in his early 70s and it wouldn’t have been such an actiony film. Many actors were offered Die Hard and then it fell into Bruce Willis’ hands luckily.”

READ MORE: Bruce Willis director in tears at their feud and end of star’s career

Davi and McTiernan are launching the London Action Film Festival tonight with a special screening of Die Hard.

Alongside tomorrow’s Friday Night Showdown with action movie panellists, Bond composer David Arnold performing live and more, there are plenty more events over the weekend. Plus special director Q&A screenings of Con Air, Predator and Gangs of London. 

The London Action Film Festival takes place from July 28th – 31st. Tickets are available here.

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