20th Century Fox CEO Tom Rothman Talks A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD; Says John McClane’s Son Is “A Badder Ass Than John McClane”

     April 27, 2012


After 12 years, the Die Hard series returned in 2007 with the first PG-13 entry in the franchise, Live Free or Die Hard.  The film did considerable business, and so development began on Die Hard 5.  After a long director search, Fox finally settled on John Moore (Max Payne) to helm the pic, which now finds Bruce Willis’ John McClane in Russia and teamed up with his son, played by Jai Courtney (Spartacus: Blood and Sand).

Steve recently sat down with 20th Century Fox CEO Tom Rothman at CinemaCon, and during the course of their wide-ranging conversation the executive spoke quite a bit about the story of A Good Day to Die Hard and what makes the film different from other entries in the franchise.  Hit the jump to see what he had to say.

A-good-day-to-die-hard-tom-rothmanSteve asked Rothman what he could tell us about the story for this fifth Die Hard, and Rothman responded by talking about what sets the film apart:

“I love this one.  It’s called A Good Day to Die Hard, and two things make it new: 1. John McClane, the ultimate American hero, goes to Russia.  So talk about a fish out of water, he’s completely out of water.  And 2. It’s really a father-son story, which is that John McClane’s been a great cop his whole life but he’s been a pretty lousy father.  He has a grown son who he’s not really been in much touch with, and McClane thinks the son’s a fuck up—that’s a technical term.”

So what brings everyone’s favorite hardened cop to Russia?  His son, of course:

“So he goes to Russia, he thinks, to bail his son out of jail, and it turns out the son’s not a fuck up, he’s the antithesis of that.  In fact, the apple has not fallen far from the tree, the apple has not fallen from the tree, which is that the son is a badder ass John McClane than John McClane.”

die-hard-5-jai-courtney-bruce-willisEssentially the set up is that McClane reunites with his estranged son, who turns out to be John McClane 2.0.  As far as the villains go, Rothman said The McClanes make quite a few enemies overseas:

“It comes to the point in the story where they’re basically the most wanted men in the entire Soviet Union, and it’s the two of them against all of the bad guys.  I’ve just gotta say, it’s a classic, classic Die Hard.”

Though I was really hoping to see Mary Elizabeth Winstead return as McClane’s daughter from Live Free or Die Hard, it sounds like they may possibly be setting the franchise up for a new lead in the future.  Given that McClane’s son is “a badder ass than John McClane,” I could see Courtney being poised to lead the series in a few years with Willis taking a smaller role in subsequent installments.  Fox took their sweet time settling on just the right actor to take the McClane Jr. role, so hopefully Courtney impresses when the release date rolls around.

If you missed any of our coverage from the rest of Steve’s conversation with Rothman, be sure to check out his comments on a New Mutants movie, the Prometheus rating, the Rise of the Planet of the Apes sequel, and updates on Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and Chronicle 2.  Look for more from Rothman here on Collider soon.


Around The Web
  • Armando

    Is that a screenshot from the film?

    • Rob

      I believe that is from Jai Courtney’s screen test.

  • Jesus

    Sigh. “Badder ass” makes me worry.

    • George

      Hollywood does not know what a real Bad ass is any more. Their films are barely character driven nowadays. The last Die Hard just didn’t have the heart of the other three previous films. So all we might be getting is another attempt at making an old franchise profitable that instead destroys it’s legacy.

      • Jesus

        Surprise(?)(!) smh

  • nelson

    Great. Now how about greenlight a 24 movie with Oliver Stone attached to direct, that way FOX got another hit on their hands.

  • Mark

    Hans Gruber is spinning in his grave.

    A badder ass than John McClane? Dude you should have stopped with “We won’t change Prometheus if it’s an R”, you’ve just admitted you’re continuing to screw up the greatest action series of all time.

  • Kevin

    Hey! Let’s give an iconic American action hero a son! That’s worked GREAT in the past!!

  • Northern Star

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the ‘Die Hard’ series should have ended with ‘…Vengeance’ in 1995, I seem to remember Bruce Willis stating explicitly “no more ‘Die Hard’s” after that film, and that he was done with the character, now it seems he’s determined to run it into the ground so he can actually have a hit movie to his credit… forget more McClane, roll on Jack Bauer on the big screen!

    • DH5Extra

      McClane and Jack Bauer almost the same person. :) At least I think Bauer’s creator used McClane as a “base” for creating Bauer.

      By the way I work as extra in DH5 at Budapest (as a big DH fan I cannot be closer to the movie :) ), I saw many of the sets and the shooting and as far as I can see it will be a kick ass movie.

  • mattedscreen

    Wow, I didnt think people could forget Crystal Skull so quickly but apparently the suits at Fox have. Always a bad idea for the hero to have a kid that’s better than him…right Tron Legacy?

  • Eric Nixon

    I don’t like this. I never thought of him as a badass. He’s just a tough SOB who can’t be killed.

  • Bill

    Dear studios – This kind of thinking NEVER works!

    What’s made DIE HARD the great franchise (mostly) it is today is that Bruce Willis IS the series. In Die Hard they basically made a genius action film & happened to end up creating one of the coolest, most exciting & charismatic heroes in action movie history. Bruce Willis’ John McClane was such a unique great character that people clamored to see more of him. Not because he was created by a studio agenda to be a charismatic badass but because he just WAS a charismatic badass.

    …. Trying to force a New John McClane on the audience isn’t going to work. It’s a betrayal of the very franchise itself. As someone else pointed out, we aren’t getting any new Indiana Jones films with Mutt Williams in the lead role. There never was an Alien 5 with Winona Ryder taking over for Ripley. Nor did that awful Ripley surrogate in Alien Vs. Predator work. X-Files sure didn’t last long after replacing the two lead agents. James Bond may be recast but there has yet to be a film in the franchise where Bond plays the supporting role. Etc etc.

    Yeah, Bruce Willis is getting old but once he can’t be John McClane the series is over.

    The series is officially nearing the “make a TV series to keep it going” stage.

    • mike.a

      Thank god that ripleys surrogate didn’t make it in avp it would’ve made it worse. Avp needs reboot. Make it like the dark horse comic with the aliens, predators and marines like ones from second alien film in a bad ass war.

  • SV7

    So is the bad guy in the film Hans Gruber’s son…? :P

    Die Hard 4 sucked my ass. That script was weak. And it wasn’t a Die Hard movie. Die Hard is not PG-13.

    Get it back on track!

  • baddasses

    anyone’s name that’s “jai courtney” has got to be a pretty badass…

  • Dave

    Live Free or Die Hard sucked ass. Didn’t had the grittiness, spirit, charisma of the first 3 movies. John McClane was nowhere to be found: it was Bruce Willis playing himself. And Tom Rothman and his love for PG13 is in great part responsible for all that.

    Fuck you, Tom.

  • Lance

    Why all the hate for Live Free Or Die Hard? Yes, I would have preferred an R rating, but the movie certainly could have sucked much, much worse.

    It wasn’t a “Crystal Skull,” by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Jazzy Jace

    Tim Rothman is a Fox (sorry, Fux) douchebag. Seriously, who even has time to listen, let along believe what he says? All he wants is to line his corporate pockets with more money and screw a franchise where it hurts.

  • onome otoks

    Hollywood will never learn. Sequels to surprisingly successful films usually don’t do well critically, commercially or both. Check out Speed 2, Predator 2, The Ring 2, Bridget Jones Diary 2 and recently The Hangover 2. They really should stop this trend.

  • Thaniell

    @onome: but the moooneeeey?!

    I’d loved to see Live free or die hard be the start of an spin-off about that geek-kid and mclanes daughter; They could have made her bad-ass and let the two of them get into random trouble like old McLane did. That would be far away enough from just replacing old John McLane by young John McLane, and they could gradually go back to R rating perhaps, when the kids grow up. Would be a fresh reboot with characters that stand for themselves and are not just a copy-cat.

  • MR.Rich316

    It worries me a bit that people are throwing out that Bruce Willis is “old”. These guys(80′s&90′s action stars) keep in great shape,know their audiences,and still have Star power. I think Die Hard is a great action series (DH2 was the worst IMHO) and I’m glad its coming back (again). Now if we can get a reboot of Lethal Weapon……

  • mike.a

    More of a badass than john himself, not a good idea. Nobody wants to see a die hard film where someone is more of a badass than john McLane. The son idea never a good idea. Unless the lead character is the son himself (the last crusade). Or the father is dead already( good idea for top gun 2 gooses son). Hopefully dh5 won’t suck.

  • DDGmike

    The thing that makes John McClane a badass is that he is an average guy with attitude, resilience, toughness, and principle. It’s NOT Kung Fu moves or an invincible aura that makes a badass. In fact, I love that he is not trained to handle the type of sh*t that he gets himself into and that no matter how bad he gets his ass kicked (and it gets kicked pretty bad), he just keeps going.

  • Fenris

    The reason the first Die Hard films were successful, was because they depicted John McClaine as an ordinary man / cop who was in over his head. He was easily hurt, beaten up but still kept ticking. He was never meant to be totally bad-ass.

    For me Die Hard really only had 2 movies, 1 and 2.

    Now they want to bring in his son???!!! Even if the son is bad ass in this movie, it would ruin it. John McClaine has to be solo! It’s Indy IV all over again!

  • SJ89

    Make this R-RATED! McClane is a normal guy, not a supercop(DH4) put into extreme situations in a real world setting. Keep not only the blood/profanity, but also the spirit the Trilogy.

  • Alitheia

    Come on, the son’s a “badder ass” than the father ? What’s the core of Die Hard ? John McClane, the man, the cop… I smell the great secret agent son with high-tech and stuff: that sucks in advance…

    Plus they try to put Bruce away to put … who ? The daughter, who changes her mind all the time, only cares about her boyfriend… No stature for a Die Hard…

    Guess the franchise’s already ruined… The 4th wasn’t so bad after all.

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