Die Hard is based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever (1979), the sequel to the 1966 novel The Detective written also by Roderick Thorp, which in itself had been adapted into a film of the same name from 1968 and starring Frank Sinatra.
Fox was contractually obliged to offer Sinatra the lead role in Die Hard, but he rejected it and was proposed to Arnold Schwarzenegger as a sequel to the 1985 film Comando, but he also rejected the script. The film was successively proposed and rejected by several action film stars of the time such as Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Robert De Niro or Don Johnson before it was proposed to an almost unknown Bruce Willis and this will accept.
The studio did not have much faith in Willis' ability as a star of action, since at that time he was only known for his comedy roles in television and movies such as Moonlight, Blind Date and Murder in Beverly Hills (Sunset), and he collected on the paper the enormous amount of 5 million dollars, a very high figure because the studio was desperate to close the lead role to be able to release the tape as a blockbuster during the summer.
Made with a budget of 28 million dollars, Die Hard raised more than 140 million worldwide and was praised by critics. The film made Bruce Willis an action star, and was a frequent comparison with other action movies with a lone hero fighting against overwhelming odds. He received 4 Oscars nominations: the best editing, the best visual effects, the best sound and the best sound effects.