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Today in history... 'Die Hard' makes a star of Willis

12:00am | & News

Can it really be 28 years since the hit film "Die Hard" made a movie star of Bruce Willis?

It was on July 15th, 1988, that Die Hard opened in cinemas across the USA – a seemingly odd choice for a movie set at Christmas time. Nevertheless it was a huge box office hit and established Willis – already known for a notable TV role – as a big name on the silver screen.

He starred as wisecracking off-duty New York cop John McClane , inadvertently caught up in the hijacking of a Los Angeles business skyscraper penthouse by a group of "terrorists" who hold the guests at a Christmas party hostage. In fact the terrorists are a gang of thieves using the "hijacking" as cover while they raid the vaults in the building's basement. 

Against the odds, barefoot and in an increasingly grubby vest, McClane must stop the thieves and save the hostages, including his wife. His nemesis, the villainous leader of the criminal gang, was played with considerable relish by British actor the late Alan Rickman.

Before Die Hard Bruce Willis was best known for his role in the comedy/detective TV drama "Moonlighting", which ran from 1985 to '89. He played private eye David Addison who ran a detective agency with ex-model Maddie Hayes, played by Cybill Shepherd. Mixing drama, comedy and romance, the show was a bit hit, underpinned by the "will they, won't they" relationship between its two main characters.

But it was Die Hard which promoted Willis to the status of Hollywood leading man, going on to star in a string of blockbuster hits including Armageddon, Pulp Fiction, The Sixth Sense, The Fifth Element, Unbreakable and The Jackal. There were also four Die Hard sequels, the latest being 2013's "A Good Day to Die Hard". Not that all Willis's film projects have been hits; he has had his fair share of flops too, including Hudson Hawk, Sunset, The Bonfire of the Vanities and Breakfast of Champions.

On the whole though, Willis remains on Hollywood's "A-List" and a big draw at the box office, while Die Hard is credited with spawning a new genre of high-octane all action movies which have their audiences cheering on the ever-more-unlikely exploits of their heroic stars.

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