Len Wiseman, Bruce Willis and Justin Long Interview – LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD

     June 2, 2007

On Thursday night 20th Century FOX screened 20 minutes of “Live Free or Die Hard” for the journalists who’d be attending Friday’s press conference with the stars and director. The reason we didn’t see the entire movie? It’s a simple answer: It’s not done. Yes the new “Die Hard” movie arrives in less than a month and Len Wiseman, the director, is still hard at work finishing the film so all of us can watch Bruce Willis kick some ass over the 4th of July.

With a worldwide press tour about to happen for the stars the only press day they had for the Los Angeles press was yesterday. So even though we hadn’t seen the final movie, a number of journalists sat outside near the Van Nuys airport and asked Justin Long, Bruce Willis and Len Wiseman a bunch of questions on the challenges of making the movie and why bring back “Die Hard” now.

It’s an extremely candid interview about making this movie and it’s definitely worth your time. And when you read it below you’ll see a lot of mentioning about planes and noise, as I already said the interview was done outside by an airport… let’s just say it was an interesting place to hold a press conference.

If you’d like to listen to the interview as an MP3 you can click here to download it.

Also, in case you missed it, I interviewed Bruce Willis and Justin Long right after this press conference and already posted it. So if you’d rather watch a video interview just click here. A lot more is covered with Justin and it’s definitely worth your time.

“Live Free or Die Hard” arrives on June 29th

Bruce Willis: All three of us are going to talk to you at the same time. [sounds of jets flying overhead and beeping of truck as it backs up] You couldn’t have picked a quieter place. Right? Unbelievable! [to Justin Long] Justin, c’mon buddy, double time. Hop on over. Quit flirting! Here you go! [to Len Wiseman as Justin runs over to join them at press table] Runs like a chicken! C’mon buddy! Get in there! We gotta get Len back to the editing room so he can actually finish the movie. I’m Bruce Willis from RC Cola [holds up can of RC Cola]. We’ve got to play to the microphone [rearranges microphones]. How you doing? How’s everybody doing? You guys aren’t smoking weed out there, are you?

Unidentified Journalist: I’m smoking weed.

Bruce Willis: Nice. Well then, there goes my second question.

Question: In the first three Die Hards, it seemed like John McClane was a reluctant hero who didn’t really want to be in this situation. In the footage we saw last night, it seems like he’s kind of embraced his role as the action hero.

Bruce Willis: Really?

Q: Is that the case?

Bruce Willis: No, that’s not the case. All through it I’m reluctant. Now I’m extra reluctant.

Len Wiseman: I’m just curious. As we’re still making the movie, what made you think that he was not as reluctant?

Q: He really took charge in the shootout and just his reactions.

Len Wiseman: Oh well, when the man is pushed in the corner…

Bruce Willis: No, no. One of the things that a friend of ours said early on is – a kid named Jason Smilovic who wrote Lucky Number Slevin came up with the idea that the phrase ‘the mythology of Die Hard’ – and part of the mythology of Die Hard is that John McClane loves his country, loves his family, that he’s not going to let anybody hurt anyone that can’t really defend themselves which is I think the situation that you’re talking about in Matt’s apartment. [referring to jet heard overhead] That jet may be landing right here. Harrier jet. [shouting above sound of jet] I think given a choice being able to not have to do what I do in this film or in any of the Die Hard films, I wouldn’t do it.

Q: Bruce, part of what we saw last night was your character being a very protective, if not overprotective, father and I’m just wondering for yourself if you can relate to that aspect of his personality?

Bruce Willis: I can relate to it but that’s just kind of overly dramatized in the film. My relationship with my daughters is a lot more upfront than that. What we’ve done as parents is to try to send the girls out into the world with as much information about what those 16 and 18-year-old boys are thinking. We asked Justin…

Justin Long: And 28.

Bruce Willis: And 28 year old boys and 52 year olds boys are thinking and hopefully [shouting to jet overhead] that’ll keep them safe. But, yeah, it’s just dramatized in the film and actually the character of Lucy McClane was not in the original draft of this film. It was an idea that kind of came to us as we went along and Mary Elizabeth Winstead really did a great job in this film and brought a lot of her own kind of McClanisms to the film and helps out in a way towards the end of the film that is both funny and is a McClanism.

Len Wiseman: Where did the footage stop that you guys saw?

Bruce Willis: Right after, I think when he says, ‘You’re the criminal. You tell me.’

Len Wiseman: Oh, okay.

Justin Long: Right before our love scene.

Len Wiseman: Before that.

Bruce Willis: Right before they first kiss.

Justin Long: I didn’t know how that was going to go down.

Q: Are you as involved in your own daughter’s life?

Bruce Willis: No, not at all. I just tell them I want to meet them. That’s the only thing that I ask for. I just give them that look, that little look, and you know what? I always put one of them in charge. If they bring a little group of guys over to the house, they have a pool party or whatever, I’ll just say ‘Dude, what’s your name?’ and he says, ‘Sinjin,’ and I say, ‘Sinjin, you’re in charge. If anything happens to one of my daughters, I’m coming to you first and then I’m going to kill all your friends right in front of you and you’ll be last.’ Yeah, so Sinjin generally is…

Len Wiseman: Sinjin

Bruce Willis: Sinjin, if you’re listening to this… That’s the guy’s name.

Len Wiseman: Oh really. [Laughs]

Bruce Willis: That’s his real name. These kookie names they come up with.

Justin Long: I gotta say I had the good fortune of meeting them. They’re all very smart. They’re very elevated and very aware and wise. They both made fun of us.

Len Wiseman: They really did.

Justin Long: [to Len] Who was teasing you about that ring [referring to ring on his hand]?

Len Wiseman: Scout was and Rumor. They were making fun of my wedding ring.

Justin Long: But in a very witty, mature way. They were all very funny. They very aware and smart.

Len Wiseman: They are.

Justin Long: So someone did a good job.

Bruce Willis: Are all of you with the press corps or are just some of you out here having a picnic and you thought you’d sit in today? [Laughs]

Justin Long: They want to watch the dog fight?

Q: A two-part question. Bruce, could you tell us how you hooked up with Len, how he came to your attention, and Len, what was the most challenging thing for you directing a film like this compared to any of your previous ones? Was there anything surprising?

Justin Long: I’ll field that one.

Len Wiseman: Yeah, if you could handle that for both of us.

Bruce Willis: I don’t know. I can’t really remember what I was doing last week so to answer a question about something that happened a year ago. I’m just kidding. I remember. You know what? I just sat down with him and my daughter, Scout, actually told me that even before I met Len, before we sat down to talk about doing the film, my daughter, Scout, turned me on to Underworld and we sat up one night watching it and I thought it was great. It just so happened that a couple weeks later Fox asked me to sit down with him and it was a pretty easy choice to make. We both had similar ideas about and similar goals as to the kind of Die Hard we wanted to make. It’s really easy to sit here and talk about the film now because it really did turn out great. Unfortunately you guys only saw 20 minutes of it, but the film rocks. It’s actually one of my favorite Die Hards.

Justin Long: You mean you’re fourth or fifth. [Laughs]

Bruce Willis: [Laughs] The weakest link really was Justin.

Len Wiseman: [Laughs] I’ll second that. Genuinely.

Bruce Willis: But we both wanted to make a – to stay away from the CG aspects which would have been a real easy thing to do with a film like this – to try to compete with every other CG film that’s out this summer. And what was the second part of your question.

Len Wiseman: I can’t remember a thing.

Bruce Willis: For Len.

Q: What was the most challenging thing about this type of large scale action film?

LW: The scale of it wasn’t so much the problem. I found that it was honestly more fun to have the ability and the toys to use to do the action the proper way and all that so that was fun for me. I guess the most challenging would be because it is part of a trilogy and one that I’m very close to and the biggest challenge I would say is that I kind of have two responsibilities, I thought. One is to direct the film, the other is to watch it as the fan that I am. So I’d always look at it that way as that’s my biggest challenge when I’m in meetings, when I’m talking about the script, in every aspect of it, is this going to be the movie that I want to see because I’m only doing it because I’m a fan. Honestly, that was the biggest challenge. The other stuff was just – you know there can be headaches and they can be challenging but for the most part it’s fun to blow shit up and have the…

Bruce Willis: It’s the most fun.

Len Wiseman: It’s the most fun. It really is fun. That’s fun. So that was the biggest challenge for me.

Bruce Willis: It was a tough shooting schedule too. It was a really bizarre shooting schedule.

Len Wiseman: It’s still happening.

Bruce Willis: That’s okay.

Continued on the next page ———–>


Q: If you could make any kind of movie that you wanted to – and you do, you do a lot of different things – you do Quentin’s movies and the Hip Hop Project. Why revisit something that was 12 years old before you even start?

Bruce Willis: That’s a really good question. I could’ve very easily chosen to retire undefeated. I mean the first three Die Hards have earned somewhere around $1.3 billion in international revenues and DVD sales and all that. But in retrospect, I was never really that … I was never as happy with the second and third one as I was with the first one and I always wanted to do one more and see if we could come close to the quality and the feel and just the level of drama and at the same time, I don’t know, just the elements of the first film. And the potential to fail was really high, was really great, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be sitting here talking about a film that I’ve already seen and know is really strong and really powerful and really satisfies me in a way that was something I set out to do, that I wanted to do. And I’m a gambler by nature, you know. I’d rather take a risk than not. You guys have seen some of the risks that I’ve taken that didn’t succeed.

Q: Do you have a list of those?

Bruce Willis: [Laughs] I think you know those films better than I do. The one with the shorts on the boat. Excuse me [makes gagging sound]. I remember saying before that film, ‘How bad can it be?’

Q: Len, this is a film with some pretty intense sequences. Can you tell me on average how long it took to film each one of those scenes and the physical challenges you faced? And for Justin, did you ever get teased by anyone on the crew about playing a computer geek in this movie and being on Mac commercials?

Justin Long: Mostly behind my back. [to Bruce Willis and Len Wiseman] You guys want to go ahead and answer? My answer will be pretty long and involved.

Len Wiseman: [Laughs] What was the question? Well you’d have to give me one of the sequences that you’re talking about and I could give you an idea.

Q: The sequence in the tunnel.

Len Wiseman: How long did that take?

Q: Yes.

Bruce Willis: How long were we in there?

Len Wiseman: Well we were probably in there around…

Bruce Willis: First unit…

Len Wiseman: Yeah, first unit was in there for maybe…

Bruce Willis: Ten days?

Len Wiseman: It was pretty short. Just about a week.

Bruce Willis: It was just before Thanksgiving. I would say almost ten days. Probably 8 or 9 days.

Len Wiseman: It feels like 10 days.

Bruce Willis: It felt like 10 days but the second unit was in there doing the actual – like that car that you see flipping in the ad – I don’t know if you saw it in the 20-minute section that you saw, but that car is a real car flipping that they cabled up and got up on cables and I think they did it — I don’t know – 6 or 7 times before they were happy with it. [to Len] So how long were they in it?

Len Wiseman: They were in there for a long time.

Bruce Willis: Awhile, right?

Len Wiseman: I don’t remember how long.

Bruce Willis: They were crashing cars.

Len Wiseman: We were doing the helicopter with the police car going in and the helicopter business. That was all at that location.

Bruce Willis: Oh, right.

Len Wiseman: Actually we did that stunt twice and hit it on the second one.

Bruce Willis: The helicopter?

Len Wiseman: No.

Bruce Willis: Oh, the car hook.

Len Wiseman: Yeah, the car hook.

Bruce Willis: I’ll have to go back and correct all my interviews. I added a little bit to it. Anyway probably about a month’s time in that tunnel.

Justin Long: I had never done a movie like this. It was just crazy for me to see how long and involved all these stunts and sequences were. You see the movie, you sort of forget what you’re doing. You forget what the means to the end is or what the end is going to be, and then you see it, and all those weeks and weeks of waiting and setups and da da da, just fades in seconds of film. These scenes that I freaked out about where I was doing push ups and trying to get in character to deliver all these lines, they’re just like Bah and then cut to another guy and back to me, going Bah! It really is, I have a friend who works on the show CSI: Miami, I was freaking out about the character and he said, “You’re not going to have time to look good or bad. It’s just going to be like a quick shot of you going Bah and then that’s it.” So it’s amazing, just considering all the time, and you guys are probably used to it but I had never done a movie like this and it was overwhelming to be a part of it. And then you see it and it’s like, “That was really fast. It was over.” In terms of people making fun of me, they did for many reasons. I think lower on the list- –

Bruce Willis: Not just the geek.

Justin Long: Not just the geek thing. There was a whole effeminate thing, the whole I have three testicles.

Len Wiseman: But just don’t show your testicles.

Justin Long: I can’t help it. I win a lot of money that way. No, I don’t think anybody ever really- – everyone was bugging me about getting an iPhone. I remember one day when it was announced, everyone went, “I want an iPhone.” People that had never talked to me were like, “Hey, Justin.” But I don’t think anybody ever – was that a concern?

Len Wiseman: It wasn’t on set. I don’t know what you had heard.

Bruce Willis: She was talking more about real life as opposed to the film.

Justin Long: But people do often come up to me. The funny thing about people recognizing me with the Mac thing is they’re always very casual about it. They never seem at all impressed. They’re just very like, “Oh, there’s a tree, there’s a bowl, there’s the Mac guy, there’s…” It’s very nonchalant about it. I don’t know why they wouldn’t be. People also ask me a lot of questions about computers. I play a hacker in this movie and I have to deliver a lot of exposition about like “Well, the algorithm is contracted into…”

Len Wiseman: That was the one thing I was surprised most about when we met is how much you don’t know about computers.

Justin Long: Yeah, I’m very, very computer illiterate. So I just think it’s sort of funny that for somebody who is as retarded as I am is playing the smart hacker guy. I get the worst of both worlds. I look like a geeky hacker but I don’t know anything about computers.

Bruce Willis: It’s a lose-lose situation.

Over the years the Die Hard 4 rumors included you and Ben Affleck in the jungle. Why this story?

Len Wiseman: That movie did come out with you and Ben in the jungle.

Bruce Willis: It was Cole Hauser. That was Cole Hauser. Ben wasn’t in that.

Len Wiseman: I’m sorry.

Bruce Willis: It just seemed like the right time. It was a good script and a bunch of different elements conspired to kind of bring it together. At a certain point, it’s just a leap of faith. I just had to say, “Let’s take a shot.” I liked what Len had to say about the film and I was pretty confident in the fact that if we got a good story that we could improve upon that which is what we ultimately did. But at the end of the day, when it’s the 11th and a half hour, you just got to say, “Here we go.” Look, it could’ve sucked. We could be sitting here trying to get you excited about it. The really rewarding thing is to know that we have a great film. When I first saw the first cut of this film, I was so impressed and relieved at the same time. It really is kind of counter programming to what’s out there this summer. But the Ben Affleck thing, I don’t know where that came from. I heard that story too.

Len Wiseman: I heard that too. I heard a lot of stories about different plotlines.

Bruce Willis: Lotta rumors out there. Are you an internet guy? Yeah, there you go. A lot of rumors out there.

Len Wiseman: You were telling me a story about somebody that pitched you an idea of, “It’s Die Hard… in a building!” It had come complete full circle, “But it’s a really big building”

Bruce Willis: I went [makes face]

Len, with the movie only a month away can you tell us what’s left to finish and what will the running time be?

Len Wiseman: I can tell you right now because they’re all texting me about getting back to finish those parts. We’re in the final mix right now so I’m doing all the sound work and score and all that stuff, so that’s where it’s at right now. A lot of the visual effects, you’re always doing the fine tweeking and things. And the final running time is right at about two hours.

Justin, with the footage that we saw it seems like you may have improvised some of your lines. Was that all scripted or did you improv?

Justin Long: Yeah, there was. They always wanted us to do a bunch scripted, but the script was sort of in a constant state of flux so there was definitely- – Bruce, you did it too. There was a lot of that going on. In those moments of sort of like extreme, I’m always scared for my life, it’s kind of hard to stick to- – you kind of have to bring something a bit more natural. Some of the dialogue was not exactly solidified.

Len Wiseman: Yeah, there was a lot of that.

JL: I’m just surprised he left a lot of it in. I was really, really surprised.

Len Wiseman: A lot of them actually, what both of these guys did, a lot of the comedy is really just you get there on the day and the script is a road map, but then just the energy of what comes out of that day, different ideas and things. A lot of it made the movie.

Bruce Willis: But also, we didn’t shoot the film in sequence. Very few films are shot in sequence and had we shot the film in sequence, we might have stuck a little bit closer to the dialogue but we had to shoot alternate takes of almost every scene in case the scene that we didn’t shoot that was going to be schedule a month from now turned out to either be in the film or not be in the film. There was one scene, the scene that had to do with Kevin Smith, that we called the Warlock scene because that’s the name of his character. We only had Kevin Smith for three days and it was a really locked in three days. Anything that we didn’t know if it was going to be in the film or not, we said, “Just put it in the Warlock scene.” So by the time we got to Kevin Smith’s scene, it was a nine page scene. Fortunately, we had shot enough of the film that we knew what we needed from that scene and what we didn’t need from it. Kevin Smith actually helped us write a lot of that scene.

Len Wiseman: That was a challenging part to go back to that other question. I mean, to shoot a film so out of sequence…

Bruce Willis: Was not the best way.

Continued on the next page ———–>


You used to say you couldn’t be an action guy at 50. What do you think about that now?

Bruce Willis: Well, I know a lot of cops that are actually my age. If you get in shape, I’m living testament to the fact that you can do a film like this and still survive. I had to work out a lot to get my muscles to the size that they protected my bones so my bones wouldn’t shatter when I dove onto the concrete floor. But I lived through it. I get beat up and you see that happen on screen. But I’m glad I didn’t wait a couple more years. Don’t try this at home. There was a lot of healing. I wish I had kept a running log of just the wear and tear and how much actual hide got scraped off.

So is this really the last Die Hard?

Bruce Willis: No, I don’t think so. I think that Fox is already talking about doing another one. I told them I would only do it if Len is involved.

Justin Long: And?

Bruce Willis: And Maggie Q. And Justin of course, yeah, because we can’t do it without Justin.

Len Wiseman: I’ve got to say, I’ve been asked that question a few times and the thing is, it’s been 12 years? Nine years?

Bruce Willis: ’95 so 12 years since Die Hard 3 and 21 years is the span of all four of them so you can see me when I’m 31 and you can see me when I’m 52. You guys will decide. There are moments in the film where you see me getting up a little slower. And I do things that I probably shouldn’t be doing.

Len Wiseman: But you’re in much better shape than you were in the third one.

Bruce Willis: For sure, I was in a much better shape on this one than I was, because I was supposed to be a kind of beat up, alcoholic cop in that one. I spent years researching that role, not the cop part.

Do you go back and watch the old ones?

Bruce Willis: I looked at them just before we started shooting this and I know I like the first one. I looked at the second and third one and said, “Can’t do that, can’t do that, can’t do that.” One of the rules we had was that we banned ourselves from being self-referential. The second film, if you go back and look at the second film, there’s so many fuckin’ references to referring to the first film. And it was such bullshit, I just hated it. It was just really a stupid, stupid thing. I don’t know, I liked jumping out of the helicopter onto the wing of that plane. I like that from the second one. But I’d have to look at it to tell you if there was anything else I really liked.

Len Wiseman: I like the icicle through the eye.

Bruce Willis: Icicle through the eye, that was good.

Len Wiseman: One of my favorite parts of Die Hard, when people ask me like —

Bruce Willis: J.J.’s dad was in that.

Len Wiseman: “What’s your favorite action sequence?” and it comes down to a shot in Die Hard 1 that I had never seen before in any kind of action film. When you’re down on the ground and shooting at the guy running at you and it pops the guy in the knees. He gets popped in the kneecap and then he falls forward, he doesn’t go through the glass, just his head goes through the glass.

Bruce Willis: That was a great stunt.

Len Wiseman: I’d never seen anything like that.

Justin Long: I’ve seen that in real life.

Thank you all.

Bruce Willis: And now back to our third job.

Justin, will you do Comic-Con?

Justin Long: I don’t know. I think I might.

Bruce, why RC Cola? (He was drinking it)

Bruce Willis: Better than Pepsi or Coke. Thank you all very much.

Justin, at the last junket you were freaking out in the corner about an upcoming job but couldn’t tell us what it was. Was this it?

Justin Long: That’s right. It was like mum’s the word. It hadn’t been official. And now I’m like, I’ve been through it.

How was the whole process?

Justin Long: It was rough. It was long, five months. I’d never seen anything like it.

In the movie, are they PCs or Macs and is it a conflict?

Justin Long: I think they’re PCs. I’m sure they were aware of it.

Did you read about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates about the commercials?

Justin Long: Oh, they did. I heard he’s sort of pissed about it. Now, it’s nice doing it. It’s a great job for me but people are very passionate about airing on one side or the other. It’s serious. I can’t really even relate to the people. I suppose I have to. I have to choose a side. But I think they probably made a conscious- – I don’t think they’d want Macs everywhere in the movie. Listen to iPods while we’re running away from things.

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