Bruce Willis as John McClane
in Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
|First appearance||Die Hard (1988)|
|Last appearance||A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)|
|Based on||Joe Leland from Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp|
|Portrayed by||Bruce Willis|
|Voiced by||Eric Allen Baker |
(Die Hard Trilogy)
Michael Blanchard (Die Hard: Vendetta, Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza)
(Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas)
|Occupation||New York City Police Detective|
Holly M. Gennero
(m. 1980; div. 1997)
John "Jack" McClane Jr.
Detective Lieutenant John McClane is a fictitious character and main protagonist of the Die Hard film series. Portrayed by Bruce Willis, he is known for his sardonic one-liners, including the famous catchphrase "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker".
John McClane was originally based on the fictional character Detective Joe Leland from Roderick Thorp's bestselling 1979 novel, Nothing Lasts Forever. Other aspects are derived from Frank Malone from Walter Wager's 1987 novel 58 Minutes (adapted as Die Hard 2).
Die Hard villain Hans Gruber describes him as "just another American.... who thinks he's John Wayne," to which McClane replies that he "was always partial to Roy Rogers." He is described as being a "foul-mouthed, wisecracking, no-nonsense New York cop with an itchy trigger finger ... and a never-say-die maverick spirit."
McClane's marriage is in a constant state of crisis, his vigilantism and disregard for authority have put him in danger of losing his job more than once, and he is a chain-smoker whom is described by Inspector Cobb in Die Hard with a Vengeance as being "two steps away from becoming a full blown alcoholic", on which McClane jokingly corrects him saying only "one step". McClane's family came from Lurgan, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland.
McClane is consistently portrayed as a reluctant hero who, with little or no assistance from others, is required against his wishes to thwart the elaborate plans of a group of like-minded villains because no one else is in a position to do so. The trailer for the first Die Hard film states, "The last thing McClane wants is to be a hero, but he doesn't have a choice." In the second film, he is told "You're the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time", to which he replies, "The story of my life." In the fourth film, he says he gets involved in dangerous situations "because there is nobody else to do it" and if there were, he'd gladly let someone else do it. Unlike many "one man army" action heroes of the 80s, the events of the movie actually take their toll on McClane physically, with McClane entering the climax of the movie severely injured.
In the first Die Hard movie, McClane carries a Beretta 92F as his duty weapon. In the next two movies, his service pistol is a Beretta 92FS, even though the NYPD has never issued the Beretta 92 for duty use. He later uses a Sig P220 as his duty gun in the fourth and fifth movies of the series.
At the beginning of the first film, New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant John McClane is seen traveling to Los Angeles to attend a Christmas Eve party at Nakatomi Plaza, the workplace of his recently separated wife Holly Gennero (Bonnie Bedelia); she and their two children, Lucy and John Jr., live in Los Angeles.
Shortly after McClane arrives at the party, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), a recently excommunicated member of a radical West German political group, initiates his plan to steal $640 million worth of bearer bonds stored in the Nakatomi Corporation's vault. Hans and a legion of henchmen under his command take hostage the Nakatomi Corporation employees and Holly in a bid to conceal the theft under the guise of a failed terrorist act.
McClane evades detection of the group and hides throughout Nakatomi Plaza, systematically killing the group members as he attempts to disrupt their plot. Hans, aware of John's presence and his name, eventually identifies Holly as John's wife and takes her as his personal hostage. At the climax of the film, a badly injured McClane locates Hans and Holly near the vault on the 30th floor. Hans is shot by McClane and falls to his death after stumbling backwards through a shattered window.
Die Hard 2
In aftermath events of the first Die Hard, Lt. McClane transfers to the Los Angeles Police Department. He dislikes his rise to national fame. Dialogue in the second film reveals that he was featured in People Magazine, did a spot on Nightline, and was referred to (by Colonel Stuart) as "the policeman hero who saved the Nakatomi hostages" along with a local news crew.
In Die Hard 2, on Christmas Eve, mercenaries seize control of Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, 25 miles west of Washington, D.C. They take control of the airport's communications and threaten to cause plane crashes unless their demands are met. Holly is stranded, her plane circles overhead. McClane discovers a conspiracy between the mercenaries and an active military unit to rescue a notorious dictator from being imprisoned for crimes against humanity. He foils their plans and provides a visual landing signal for the circling aircraft by exploding the plane the villains were using for their exit strategy.
Loaded Weapon 1
In Loaded Weapon 1, Bruce Willis has a cameo appearance as John McClane himself, living in a trailer. In the scene the character appears in, a helicopter flies to what the pilot believes is the beach trailer home of the film's protagonist, Jack Colt (portrayed by Emilio Estevez), and peppers it with bullets, causing it to explode. Instead of it being Estevez crawling out of the wreckage, it turns out to be John McClane himself, wearing a grubby vest and waving the white flag. The gunman asks sheepishly whether or not he has the right address of 1014 Pacific Coast Highway, with McClane replying, "No! This is 814 Pacific Coast Highway!" and helpfully pointing them in the right direction; McClane then receives an apology from the pilot for the mistake, where he waves them off, "Yeah! No problem!...No problem!" and assesses the damages.
Die Hard with a Vengeance
In Die Hard with a Vengeance, McClane has returned to New York City, continuing his work as a Detective Lieutenant with the NYPD. He is separated from his wife, suspended from the police force (although what he did to get suspended is unknown), and has become a borderline alcoholic. At the beginning of the film, an unidentified terrorist known only by the name "Simon" (Jeremy Irons) has detonated at least one bomb in the city and threatens to detonate others unless McClane undertakes to solve a series of challenges and riddles modeled after the children's game Simon says.
A shopkeeper from Harlem, Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson), saves McClane during the first challenge and is forced to further accompany McClane at Simon's request.
After attempting to solve and complete several riddles and challenges, the FBI finally reveal to McClane that "Simon" is Simon Peter Gruber, the brother of Hans Gruber (the antagonist of the first film). It is assumed by the FBI that at least part of Simon's motive involves seeking revenge against McClane for his brother's death. Like Hans, Simon is determined to use acts of terror as a smokescreen to perpetrate thievery. Using a fake bomb threat concerning New York City area schools, Simon draws nearly all of the city's police force away from his target: New York's Federal Reserve. While the police frantically search local schools to locate the alleged bomb, Simon raids the gold bullion held in the underground vault of the Reserve and flees towards the Canada–US border.
With the help of Carver, McClane tracks Simon near the border. McClane kills Simon by shooting a power line which collapses into the blades of Simon's helicopter.
Live Free or Die Hard
The fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard (titled Die Hard 4.0 in releases outside North America), which takes place on Independence Day, takes place 13 years later. McClane is assigned to take hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) into FBI custody. McClane has been on the force over 30 years, and is a senior detective, most likely a detective squad commander, since he holds the rank of lieutenant. Although McClane's NYPD file, accessed by Thomas Gabriel, notes he has been a Lieutenant since 1987, it also states he currently holds the rank of Detective. Terrorists led by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), are conducting a fire sale to bidders, taking out the nation's infrastructure: power plants, traffic lights, transportation, and financial markets.
McClane has been divorced from Holly for 10 years, not speaking to his daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is kidnapped by Gabriel as leverage. McClane's previous actions seem forgotten. Farrell is unaware of his past, McClane cynical about his fame. With Farrell, McClane again thwarts disaster. Farrell counters Gabriel's hacks, while McClane eliminates his men. The culmination is when McClane shoots through his own shoulder to kill Gabriel.
His actions restore Lucy to friendliness. She introduces herself as Lucy McClane to Farrell. In the past, she introduced herself as Lucy Gennero, and told guys her father was dead.
A Good Day to Die Hard
In the fifth film, A Good Day to Die Hard, John travels to Russia when son John "Jack" Junior (Jai Courtney) is arrested. He doesn't know Jack works for the CIA against high-ranking Russian official Chagarin (Sergei Kolesnikov). Chagarin's ex-partner, Yuri Komarov (Sebastian Koch) was imprisoned for a file incriminating Chagarin.
John meets Jack and Komarov fleeing custody and Chagarin's thugs. Chagarin's henchmen attack again as they hide out in a CIA safe house. John holds them off, allowing himself, Jack and Komarov to escape. John and Jack help Komarov meet up with Komarov's daughter, Irina (Yuliya Snigir). She betrays them to Chagarin's main enforcer Alik (Radivoje Bukvić). John and Jack must escape again, but without Komarov. Following Komarov to Chernobyl, John and Jack learn that Komarov was actually using them to steal weapons-grade uranium from Chagarin. Surviving yet another battle, John and Jack mend their relationship.
Holly M. Gennero (formerly Holly M. McClane) is John McClane's ex-wife. Over the course of the series, their relationship becomes increasingly strained. They have two children together, John ("Jack") and Lucy. Holly is portrayed by actress Bonnie Bedelia in the first two films, Die Hard and Die Hard 2.
In Die Hard, Holly has recently moved to Los Angeles with Jack and Lucy to pursue a new career opportunity with Nakatomi Corporation. She is estranged from McClane, who decides to remain in New York City with the hope that Holly would return home.
In Die Hard 2, Holly and John appear to be on the path to reconciliation, although their relationship is far from perfect. Her role is significantly diminished from that of the first film.
Although Holly does not appear in Die Hard with a Vengeance, she is mentioned in conversation. McClane makes an attempt to telephone her, and her voice is heard briefly on the phone. She still resides in Los Angeles and is separated from, but still married to McClane.
In Live Free or Die Hard, cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel notes that McClane and Holly are divorced.
In A Good Day to Die Hard, she is mentioned by John when John and Jack are on their mission.
Lucy McClane is John's daughter, born in 1982. She is played as a child by Taylor Fry in the first Die Hard film and as an adult by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the fourth film Live Free or Die Hard and the fifth film A Good Day to Die Hard.
In Live Free or Die Hard, Lucy tells her boyfriend that McClane is dead and calls herself "Lucy Gennero", her mother's maiden name. She is later kidnapped by cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel for leverage against her father. She proves to be resilient, tells her father the positions of Gabriel's men, and injures one when McClane is incapacitated. By the end of the film, she calls herself "Lucy McClane" and develops feelings for a hacker called Matt Farrell.
Winstead reprised her role for a cameo appearance in A Good Day to Die Hard. Since Live Free or Die Hard, she and John have mended their relationship. After Lucy drops her father off to the airport, she warns her father "not to screw up" when he travels to Russia. She later calls him while he's in the middle of a car chase and he has to hang up. She meets his plane when he returns with Jack and happily reunites with both.
John "Jack" McClane Jr.
John "Jack" McClane Jr. is John's son, who is born in 1984. He briefly appears as a child (Noah Land) in the first Die Hard film and as an adult portrayed by Jai Courtney in the fifth film, A Good Day to Die Hard.
In Live Free or Die Hard, cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel calls him Jack, which is a common alternative nickname for "John" in the United States. In early drafts of the script of Live Free or Die Hard, John Jr. was set to be in the film.
In A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack is a CIA agent stationed in Russia to retrieve Yuri Komarov, a political prisoner who had evidence against Viktor Chagarin in a file at Chernobyl. To get close to Komarov, he kills a Russian millionaire and asks to testify against Komarov for a shorter sentence. John McClane goes to Russia after finding out about Jack's arrest, but not his CIA mission or ties. Similar to daughter Lucy in Live Free or Die Hard, son Jack was estranged from his father.
Jack and his father gain admiration and respect for each other. They take down Komarov and his daughter Irina and discover their true plot of retrieving weapon-grade uranium from Chernobyl. Jack throws Komarov to death into the rotor-blades of Irina's helicopter, after he claims John will die.
Throughout the films, McClane is known for his catchphrase, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker". He frequently says it to taunt his adversaries, or in the moments before killing them.
McClane adopts the phrase in the first film, Die Hard, when villain Hans Gruber calls him a cowboy and asks if he thinks he stands a chance. McClane replies, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker". At the end of the film, before his death at the hands of McClane, Gruber echoes the phrase before McClane overpowers him.
At the end of Die Hard 2, he delivers it before lighting a trail of fuel to destroy the enemy airplane.
At the end of Die Hard with a Vengeance, he says it in a low voice after shooting down the enemy helicopter.
In the fourth film, Live Free or Die Hard, McClane is held captive by cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel. Gabriel taunts him, claiming that McClane's tombstone will read "always in the wrong place at the wrong time". McClane replies, "How about 'yippee-ki-yay, motherfu—'?" as he shoots himself through the shoulder in order to kill Gabriel. The last two syllables are drowned out by the gunshot in the theatrical version. In the "unrated version," the line is altered to remain intact.
In the fifth film, A Good Day to Die Hard, McClane says the catchphrase before driving a truck out of an airborne helicopter in the final confrontation in Chernobyl. The film title references the catchphrase's reputed meaning, a Native American war-cry meaning "This is a good day to die!"
Empire ranked him number 12 on their list of the 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time in 2008 and number 7 in 2015. In a survey by MTV, "accomplished" filmmakers, actors and fans voted on the "Greatest Movie Badass of All Time". McClane came in third, behind only Ellen Ripley and Dirty Harry. In April 2009, Entertainment Weekly ranked John McClane sixth in list of the top twenty "All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture", describing "Bruce Willis' wisecracking, terrorist-foiling New York cop" character as "the anti-Bond". The magazine called the characters portrayed by Keanu Reeves in Speed, Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57, and Jean-Claude Van Damme in Sudden Death as "copycat descendants" of John McClane.
- In Die Hard: But you have me at a loss -- you know my name, but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child. Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne... Rambo... Marshal Dillon.
- In Die Hard: Actually, I was always partial to Roy Rogers. I really dug those sequined shirts.
- "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire Online.
- In Die Hard: With a Vengeance: Inspector Walter Cobb: "I can appreciate your feelings for McClane. But believe me, the jerk isn't worth it. He's stepped on so many toes in this department, by next month he's going to be a security guard. His own wife wants nothing to do with him, and he's about two steps shy of becoming a full-blown alcoholic."(McClane revises this statement to being 1 step)
- In Live Free or Die Hard: "Do you know what you get for being a hero? Nothing! You get shot at. Pat on the back, blah blah blah. That a boy! You get divorced... Your wife can't remember your last name, kids don't want to talk to you... You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me kid, nobody wants to be that guy. [I do this] because there is nobody else to do it right now. Believe me if there was somebody else to do it, I would let them do it. There's not, so [I'm] doing it. That's what makes you that guy."
- During the montage of presidents, they collectively say, have a happy Independence Day.
- "Mary Elizabeth Winstead to Return as John McClane's Daughter in A Good Day To Die Hard". Collider. 2012-08-07.
- "Merrick Says "Yippee Kai Yay!" To The DIE HARD 4.0 Script!!". Aint It Cool News. Archived from the original on June 4, 2008.
- Carroll, Larry (2009-02-06). "Our Greatest Movie Badass Of All Time Is ..." MTV. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- "Entertainment Weekly's 20 All Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- Haflidason, Almar (15 December 2000). "Die Hard (1988)". BBC. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
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