In excitement and anticipation for the upcoming Die Hard screening with Jeb Stuart next week, Austin Film Festival asked him a few questions about the film. Don’t miss this holiday classic on Tuesday, December 15th. 2015 at the historic Paramount Theatre. More details can be found here.
Austin Film Festival (AFF): How did the job of adapting Nothing Lasts Forever into the beloved Die Hard come about?
Jeb Stuart (JS): This is a long story. The abridged version is that I had a writing deal at Disney and my wife was pregnant with our second child and I needed money. My reading period was approaching–that 5-6 weeks period after I officially deliver my draft to Disney that I become non-exclusive–so my agent Jeremy Zimmer, made a two calls and was able to get me projects at Paramount and Fox, the only hitch was that I had to write them both at the same time and in that six week window. I think I mentioned that I was hungry…
Anyway. I really loved the Paramount concept but had some initial trouble with the producers so turned all my attention on Nothing Last Forever, the Rod Thorpe novel, which was essentially about a 60+ year old man who comes to LA to visit his adult daughter who is culpable in a bad business deal and accidentally drops her off the top of a building on Wilshire Blvd. I had no idea how to make it into a movie, but like I mentioned I was desperate. Anyway one night after a long day of writing I got into an argument with my wife at dinner, stormed out of the house, which I never do, and got in my car to head back to my office at the studio. About five seconds after I pulled out of the driveway, I regretted not saying I’m sorry (she was right, I was wrong) and while I was driving down the 134 freeway heading to Disney and debating my best way back into an apology a stake-bed truck, loaded with appliance boxes in front of me on the 134, hit something and a tall refrigerator box land upright in front of me. I didn’t have a time to switch lanes and went right through the box at 65 mph. Fortunately, the box was empty. I pulled over to the side of the road, caught my breath and then realized what the movie was. It wasn’t about a 60 year old man who drops his daughter off the top of a building. It was about a 30 year old guy who should have said, he’s sorry to his wife and then something bad happens…
AFF: What’s your favorite one-liner that you wrote in Die Hard?
JS: I have a few and none of them are from John McClane. I have always loved the line: “I guess we’re going to need more FBI guys.” when the helicopter with the two Johnsons goes down. And I have a soft spot for Holly’s relieved line when she sees the terrorists angry, “Only John could make someone that mad.”
AFF: Did you know from the get-go that Die Hard was going to be so lauded as a holiday film? What is your personal go-to holiday film?
JS: I didn’t know Die Hard would ever be lauded ever much less as a holiday film. I did want to do an LA film where you felt it should snow at the end.
I’m a It’s a Wonderful Life guy. No competition.