Die Hard tour

(We recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of Die Hard, arguably the greatest action movie of all time. /Film has explored the film from every angle with a whole series of articles. To conclude our coverage, we took a special tour of the film’s locations and attended a spectacular screening on the Fox lot.)

By now, everyone knows that the filmmakers behind Die Hard utilized 20th Century Fox’s Fox Plaza, a real skyscraper in Los Angeles’s Century City, to stand in for the movie’s famous Nakatomi Plaza. The building is still being used by Fox today, and typically, film journalists aren’t allowed to go inside and explore it. But this past weekend, we were among a small group of journalists invited to take a Die Hard tour showing off a ton of the locations used during the making of the movie.

To top it all off, Fox organized a 30th anniversary screening of the film on the studio lot, with the building itself towering over the audience. Check out our video and photos below.

Die Hard 30th Anniversary Screening

Fox (and the public relations company ThinkJam) spared no expense putting this event together, bringing out an ’80s police car complete with Twinkies on the dashboard, hiring a guy to pose as Argyle (John McClane’s limo driver) and take photos with fans, renting a food truck, and giving each attendee a Nakatomi-themed folding chair. They even had a couple of surprise guests show up to introduce the screening: Bonnie Bedelia, who played Holly Gennero/McClane, and Reginald VelJohnson, who played Sgt. Al Powell.

After a humorous false start in which the film began with the Spanish audio option selected, and then a second false start involving the wrong audio input altogether, the third time was the charm and the audience cheered during the first audible line of dialogue. It was smooth sailing from there – the sun dipped behind the horizon, and searchlights glanced across the surface of the Nakatomi building as the film played out before us.

Die Hard Tour

The tagline on the movie’s original poster reads “40 Stories of Sheer Adventure!” On Saturday afternoon, a small group of us were enough to experience our own adventure and tour Fox Plaza from the ground up. They wouldn’t let us take any video, but I took a bunch of photos and have some screenshot comparisons of the locations for you below.

We began the tour outside, where a railing was destroyed during filming by this L.A.P.D.’s armored vehicle. It would have been where our guide (who greeted us with a hearty “Merry Christmas”) is standing in the second photo, and you can barely see some of the mangled metal in the third shot.

Inside the lobby area, the walls are the same marble as they were during filming in the late 1980s. The guides placed a Crunch bar on this desk to indicate this scene, where one of Hans Gruber’s lackeys steals a chocolate bar while waiting for the police to arrive outside. The metal phone panel on the left wall is still there, even though the phone itself has been removed.

The rivets in the elevators, with their distinctive criss-crossing patterns, are also the same now as they were during filming.

As we continued through the hallways, we stumbled across some shards of plastic made to look like broken glass and bloody footprints leading into a bathroom. Elsewhere, we saw an incredibly steep staircase, which one of the terrorists/thieves slides down in the movie. iPads were stationed throughout the building, repeatedly playing moments from the movie that took place in that specific location. Occasionally, our tour guide would hold one up for us as we headed through a corridor so we could see what it looked like on screen.

The loading dock looks the same as ever (those signs in the far background are visible in the movie), and the tour guides even set up a chainsaw and some fake wires to recreate the scene in which the phone lines are cut. A photo of some models was taped to a wall to replicate the one that John McClane passes as he races through the building, and our tour guide told me later that the photo on top is of the very same model who appears in the movie. It’s that level of detail that shows how much the team cared about making this a terrific experience.

As we headed deeper into the bowels of the building, we saw some miscellaneous props, a model that was used during production, and got a classic photo opportunity.

Super fans might recognize this as the stairway area where McClane fights Karl and hangs him with chains, which, in the movie, were attached to a pulley system that ran the length of the room. In the film, this location is made to look like it’s just before you arrive on the roof, but in real life, it’s underground.

Our guide, Arnold, carried a walkie-talkie that would sporadically pipe in Bruce Willis‘s audio from the movie, and as you can see from the third photo, he marked himself up like McClane counting the terrorists on his arm.

As we traveled higher, the props became even more prominent. Graffiti mirrors exactly what appeared in the film, and a fake gun was placed precisely where Hans left his during the scene when he checked on the detonators and adopted an American accent to try to fool McClane. In a stairwell on the way to the roof, a walkie-talkie, lighter, and ammunition were positioned in a similar spot to where McClane would have searched Karl’s brother’s body after he killed him.

On the roof, a fire hose was placed to make it look like McClane had leapt off. Peering over the side, I noticed the 1980s police car in the parking area near the front door, just like in the movie. All it needed was a falling body to crash through the windshield – but we still had a bit higher to climb.

We ended up at the absolute peak of the building on the helipad, with incredible views of the city stretching as far as the eye could see.

On the way back down, I looked over the edge one more time and spotted a mural of Bruce Willis as John McClane that was painted on the side of one of the Fox sound stages for the film’s 25th anniversary. I was there to cover that event in 2013, so as a huge Die Hard fan, this was a cool “full circle” moment for me.

Special thanks to the people at Fox and ThinkJam for putting together such an amazing day and for inviting us to be a part of it. The Die Hard 30th Anniversary Edition is now available on 4K, Blu-ray, and Digital. Be sure to check out the rest of our 30th anniversary coverage if you haven’t yet, including interviews with the filmmakers, the movie’s influence on modern directors, and much more.

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