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Published:July 8th, 2007 09:52 EST
Bruce Willis won't Die Hard, but lives forever in history

Bruce Willis won't Die Hard, but lives forever in history

By Garrett Godwin

In 1988, Bruce Willis and Die Hard redefine the action genre.  Now, almost twenty years later, the 52-year-old superstar, the film, and McClane are now part of American history.

A week ago, Willis visited the Smithsonian Institute to donate the dirty, blood-smeared undershirt he wore as McClane in the first Die Hard, as well as a poster of the film, a prop police badge and script from the fourth installment, Live Free or Die Hard (now in theatres).  The items will go on display as part of the "Treasures of American History" exhibition on Thursday, July 12.

In Live Free or Die Hard, McClane must protect both America and a computer hacker (Justin Long) from terrorists planning on bringing the country to its knees through its computer systems.

What makes John McClane such an icon now, according to Willis, is that the character became a new type of action hero in Hollywood: one that has both humor and heart. 

"What I've been saying about the character for a long time", states the actor, "is that he loves his country, loves his family.  He has a very American sense of humor.  This character, in all four films, has always had zero tolerance for anyone trying to hurt or do harm to innocent people."

Willis also said that the films he has done-- such as the Die Hard series and Armageddon-- are the same films that actors like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood have done for decades.

"You can draw a straight line from Westerns and cowboy movies, to military movies and gangster movies, to what they now call 'action movies' - they're really just about good triumphing over evil," he continues.  "They're morality stories that sometimes work and sometimes don't."

Live Free or Die Hard is now available in theatres.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine (