Black & Decker paid to have its cordless drill featured in a scene with Bruce Willis. When the scene was cut, the company sued 20th Century Fox in the first-ever product placement lawsuit for a film. The 150,000 dollar claim was settled out of court.
According to John Leguizamo in his autobiography, his role was intended to be much larger until the filmmakers realized how short he was. His part was cut down to one line which was dubbed by someone else. However, he got his way years later in Executive Decision (1996), another picture produced by Joel Silver and often described as 'Die Hard on a Plane'.
The scenes with Bruce Willis running through tunnels under the airport were filmed at a water treatment facility near Los Angeles. The facility has miles of underground tunnels, and was also used in Live Free or Die Hard (2007), doubling as the Woodlawn Social Security Administration building.
The scene where McClane climbs the ladder from the service tunnels up onto the runway and then nearly gets run over by Esperanza's plane was filmed from eight different locations: - Granada Hills, California (McClain in the tunnel and climbing up the ladder) - Los Angeles, California (Close-ups of Esperanza inside the plane's cockpit) - Mojave Desert, California (Head-on view of plane in the sky on approach) - Alpena, Michigan (Exterior shot of the grating door on the runway) - San Francisco, California (Rear shot of plane on approach with runway lights in the background) - Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (Plane after just landed rushing towards the screen) - Lake Tahoe, California (Plane rushing towards McClane in the foreground) - Denver, Colorado (Plane rushing towards McClane as seen from behind the front landing gear).
In the first Die Hard (1988), John McClane only had a few scripted one-liners. However, Bruce Willis ad-libbed so many one liners and audiences liked them so much that in this sequel (and the next one), more gags were added and Willis was told he could ad-lib as many more as he saw fit.
Renny Harlin made sure that the scene where Major Grant says to McClane that he is "the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time", with McClane responding "Yeah, story of my life", ended up in the movie's trailer, because it perfectly summed up McClane's character.
Major Grant's commando team is referred to as 'Blue Light'. This was the name of a real-life U.S. military anti-terrorist team formed within the U.S. Army Rangers in the 1970s. It was eventually replaced by the Delta Force who recruited personnel from the entire army, rather than just Green Berets.
The first time Holly McClane is seen on the plane, the woman sitting next to her is reading a magazine advertising the VHS release of Lethal Weapon 2 (1989). Both the first two Die Hard movies and the Lethal Weapon series were produced by Joel Silver. Coincidentally, both Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis were considered for each other's roles of John McClane and Martin Riggs but turned it down and it went to each other vice versa.
It was Renny Harlin's idea that Colonel Stuart, (played by William Sadler,) the film's main villain be introduced naked doing martial arts exercises during the film's opening sequence. He would later say that it was "an effective, but unusual way to introduce a character".
Some of the shots of the airport (interior and exterior) were filmed at the old Stapleton Airport in Denver, Colorado. Also, the external shots of the church were filmed in Highland Lake, just north of Denver.
In the "Making of" featurette for Die Hard 2 (1990), actor William Sadler (Colonel Stuart) said that for this movie, his favorite part pertaining to his character was when Colonel Stuart crashes the Windsor Air plane by pretending to be someone from the tower.
All the airplane landing equipment used by the mercenaries in the church is close to the real equipment used in actual air traffic control towers, but simplified for the film's dramatic and action effects.
Although the movie was filmed using a fictitious airport and/or other airports which stood in for Dulles International Airport, the movie posters along with the VHS and DVD covers for the movie show a picture of the actual Dulles Airport.
After the film's initial release in theaters it played on TBS, which was heavily dubbed for content by voice actors. These dubs were noted for sounding nothing like the actors who played their respective roles. Most noteworthy, McClane's famous line "Yipee-ki-yay motherfucker" was dubbed into "Yipee-ki-yay Mr. Falcon." There's no character in the film named Mr. Falcon. Esperanza's codename is Falcon.
The confrontation between John McClane and William Sadler on the airplane's wing took several nights to shoot. Huge fans were used to blow in the fake snow in the background because of lack of real snow.
The subplot involving Esperanza being turned over to the U.S. government is a reference to the real-life Panamanian general, Manuel Noriega, who was overthrown for brutality and drug trafficking in Panama in the 1980s.
The scenes filmed in Denver had to have snow machines brought from a local ski resort with truck loads of ice every night, during the day it would all melt. Stapleton international airport, where some external, and internal shots were filmed, shut down at night because of noise abatement laws.
When Fred Dalton Thompson's airport manager realises the peril the planes are in, he says that we only have 58 minutes to avert disaster. " Die Hard 2" is based on the novel " 58 Minutes" by Walter Wager.
According to Renny Harlin in the DVD commentary, the shooting was originally going to take place in Washington D.C. around the winter time. But when the crew got there, it was uncharacteristically warm (mid 40 degrees). This prompted the crew traveled from the northeast to parts of the northwest and back in search of snow, which seemed to melt whenever they arrived. Most of the time the snow was either trucked in from Canada or was made up of an assortment of look alike snow (i.e.paper flakes, potato flakes, marble dust, rock salt, etc). However, when the crew landed in Colorado to film the snowmobile chase they had set up blankets of fake snow then a massive blizzard with well below freezing temperatures (17 degrees) swept the state and shooting had to be shut down. Harlin commented how hellish the shoot was.
In the "Making of" featurette for Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Reginald VelJohnson said that after his appearances in the first two "Die Hard" films, he would be frequently teased and joked at by friends and people on the street for his character's obsession with Twinkies, with some people even going so far as to buy Twinkies and throw them into his car while he was inside, and saying things like, "Oh, we knew you wanted some of those".
Actors Dennis Franz and Robert Costanzo, who played Carmine and Vito Lorenzo, would work together again in 1993, during the first season of NYPD Blue (1993), when Costanzo would play mobster Alphonse Giardella, with whom Franz's Sipowicz had an ongoing feud that would end in the detective's near-execution in the pilot episode.
The aircraft that General Esperanza arrives on is a Fairchild C-123K Provider. This is a twin engine propeller airplane modified to appear with four jet engines for the film. The pods for the J-85 jet booster engines are still visible under the wings between the mock-up jet engines.
During filming, Fred Dalton Thompson approached Steven E. de Souza to criticize the amount of four-letter words in the initial version of the screenplay. Steven assumed Fred objected because of conservative leanings, but was incorrect: Fred thought the excessive language made the movie unintentionally funny and hard to take seriously. When Steven viewed the dailies, he agreed with Fred, saying it sounded like a David Mamet play, and agreed to remove some of the curse words from the script.
The Boeing 747-121/SF that General Esperanza, Colonel Stuart, and the other terrorists use to try to escape in bears the livery colors of Evergreen International Air Cargo Lines, but with the company name whited out.
There's quite a few hints that Major Grant is working with Colonel Stuart both in the different color tape for the gun magazines and there's one point near the beginning when Garber is telling Stuart that someone got sick and a replacement was brought in. Grant's radioman is the replacement. He even grabs the note Carmine is writing, with the location of the bad guys, and says they had their location, without even reading it or hearing any announcement. Also, when Grant is snarling threats at Stuart on the communicator, Stuart and his men are smiling broadly. While it looks like they're just chuckling at the boasts, it turns out they're getting a kick out of Grant hamming it up for the cops.
Steven E. de Souza, later admitted in an interview for the book Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie that the villains were based on America's "Central American" meddling, primarily the Iran-Contra affair.
In an interview, John Amos said there was actual tension between him and Bruce Willis during the course of filming which got reflected on screen. "Let's just say that he will never humiliate me in public again," Amos said. "You got that, Bruce?"
Cast members Bruce Willis, William Sadler, and Fred Dalton Thompson all appeared on _"Roseanne" (1988) during the first season (1988-89), while Harvey appeared during the fifth season (1992-93). Taylor Fry, who played Lucy McClane in "Die Hard" (1988), appeared on that show. Colleen Camp, who played Connie Kowalski in "Die Hard with a Vengeance" (1995), played 3 different characters on that sitcom. Duane Whitaker, who played Maynard the pawn shop keeper in "Pulp Fiction" (1994), appeared on the show as well.
EASTER EGG: On Disc 2 of the 2-Disc DVD (the Special Features disc), push right on the remote control from the last menu selection, and the "stair rail" will light up. Select it to display credits for the creators of the Special Features disc.
Each of the first three 'Die Hard' films has a connection and/or reference to at least 1 of the 3 countries of Northern Europe: Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Here, in the second one, the director, Renny Harlin, is from Finland, and the musical piece "Finlandia" by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius is featured twice during the film.
The end of the movie shows the wide shot of NEA Lockheed TriStar L-1011 from the rear, clearly showing an FAA registration number "N765BE", formerly operated by All Nippon Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Rich International Airlines. The aircraft was later scrapped in 2004. One of the scenes shows the NEA livery is slowly fading off. Looking at the forward section of the L-1011, near at the NEA logo, the name of the former operator HAWAIIAN can be seen.
At 9:18; after the henchmen synchronize their watches, Miller (Vondie Curtis Hall) reaches for the package under the table. A close-up of a white hand grabs the gift. The same exact close up appears at 9:58, used for the second henchman.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Several scenes were filmed but cut from the final release of the film: An extended version of the scene when McClane enters the terminal, featuring shots of a children's choir singing Christmas carols (the audio of the choir singing still remains in the final cut, but only heard in the background), A scene of two of the terrorists killing off two painters and stealing their truck as well as their uniforms (to pose as painters later in the Skywalk SWAT team ambush scene). An extended version of the scene where McClane first meets up with Marvin the janitor, and finally an extended scene of Marvin showing McClane the best way to access the tunnels to get to the runways, which includes a scene where McClane has to walk carefully across a narrow beam over a hot boiler. All of these cut scenes can be viewed in the Deleted Scenes section of the Special Features disc.
Local transmission of The Simpsons (1989) shown on the plane to "calm the passengers" is the episode The Simpsons: There's No Disgrace Like Home (1990), where Dr. Monroe allows each family member to use shock therapy on other family members. Later, Holly McClane shocks Richard Thornburg in the lavatory.
By switching from ammunition magazines marked with red tape to ones with blue tape prior to the firefight at the church, the connection between Colonel Stuart's team and Major Grant's team is revealed. When training, military units on the same side are called Blue Teams, while those on the opposing force, or OPFOR, are called red teams. Hence, the magazines marked with red tape are for the enemy, or in this instance, McClane.