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Recasting Die Hard If It Were Made In The 2020s

If John McTiernan’s Die Hard were made in the 2020s, here are some choices as to who could be cast in it. It seems impossible to imagine the story without the now well-known actors who appeared in the 1988 film, and maybe even disrespectful to its most fervent supporters. The exciting action film has gone down in history as one of the most iconic adventures of all time.

Die Hard kick-started the Hollywood movie careers of both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. Prior to starring in the Christmas movie action flick, Rickman had never been in a film and Willis was better known for his role on the popular television dramedy, Moonlighting. But after taking down the German antagonists of the first movie in the series of five, Willis was cemented as an action hero. The film also starred actors who would later gain recognition from TV roles such as Bonnie Bedelia and Reginald VelJohnson, Camille Braverman from Parenthood and Carl Winslow from Family Matters respectively.

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Related: The Die Hard Series Doesn’t Need Another Sequel

It’s interesting to consider who might have filled the character’s shoes had Die Hard been filmed in the 2020s. It’s probable that the movie wouldn’t be exactly the same as the classic audiences know and love, and there may be other combinations that would make an entertaining film. Here is a possible recasting for Die Hard in the 2020s:

Anthony Ramos as John McClane

Ramos is a rising star in Hollywood who got his start on Broadway in the dual role of John Laurens/Philip Hamilton in Hamilton. He has since had a supporting role in A Star Is Born as Ramon and starred as Usnavi in In The Heights. Although he has primarily performed in musicals, his training for those roles will have prepared him for the physicality needed to play Die Hard’s crime-fighting McClane. The role would give him the opportunity to flex his acting muscles in a different genre.


Some might wonder why actors like Dwayne Johnson or Ryan Reynolds wouldn’t be the first choice to play the action hero. But part of the appeal of McClane in the original Die Hard is that he’s an everyman (despite the controversy surrounding Willis’ casting as McClane); he’s obviously in good shape but on a more attainable level than the Rock. And Ramos has the comedic talent to pull off McClane’s quips but also to balance that humor with the more intense moments of the movie, whereas Reynolds’ humor often comes off as almost overly self-satisfied. The first Die Hard excelled because it gave surprising actors chances; a remake could do the same with Ramos.


Mads Mikkelssen as Hans Gruber

Mads Mikkelsen, perhaps best known for his role as cannibalistic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal, is the perfect choice for a 2020s version of Die Hard. Charming in his own way just as Rickman was, Mikkelsen can play a very oily and slippery villain. He can evoke a quietly threatening aura that would bring a lot of tension to the scene in which Gruber encounters McClane under the guise of one of the captives of Nakatomi Plaza.

Related: Die Hard: Every Actor Who Almost Played John McClane

Elizabeth Olsen as Holly Gennero-McClane

Olsen has become a household name in recent years thanks to the MCU. Her awards-nominated turn as Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch, in WandaVision rectified Olsen being wasted, as the talented actress had been underutilized to that point in the MCU. Although small in stature, Olsen brings power to every woman she plays and this ability is needed for the character of Holly Gennaro-McClane. Separated from her husband because he had qualms about her career opportunity in L.A., Holly is a powerful woman in her workplace. Olsen has the demeanor to portray that strength in the face of the imminent danger that Gruber and crew bring to the Plaza.


Brian Tyree Henry as Al Powell

The first police officer on the scene of the crime in Die Hard, Powell becomes critical to the film as McClane’s support and confidant. While there is no current performer who could bring the quite same energy to the role as VelJohnson, Brian Tyree Henry could put his own unique spin to the part. Henry has walked the line between humor and crisis in Atlanta (which has long-awaited a season 3) as aspiring rapper Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles, as well as his recent turn in Eternals, which is needed for the role of Powell.

Alexander Ludwig as Karl

Karl is Gruber’s right hand man against whom McClane finds himself in hand-to-hand combat in one of Die Hard’s most gripping fight scenes. Karl is the main muscle of Gruber’s team, making Alexander Ludwig perfect for the role. Ludwig has previously played characters known for incredible strength, including Cato in The Hunger Games and Bjorn Ironside in the History Channel’s Vikings. The combination of his striking physique and intensity provides Ludwig with the necessary tools to play Karl.


James Van Der Beek as Dwayne T. Robinson

The role of LAPD Deputy Chief Robinson is a little trickier because it requires an actor who can make himself seem very unlikeable. Paul Gleason, also known for his role as Assistant Principal Richard Vernon in The Breakfast Club, played the role with no aim at earning sympathy. James Van Der Beek has done his share of playing unlikeable characters, including a complicated serial killer with multiple personalities on Criminal Minds. Van Der Beek would be able to play Robinson with the right amount of arrogance to be a foil for Ramos’ McClane in a 2020s Die Hard.

Related: It’s Too Late For Bruce Willis To Make Another Die Hard

Justice Smith as Argyle

Originally played by De’voreaux White, Argyle is the young chaffeur who picks up McClane at the airport and drives him to Nakatomi Plaza. Known for his role as Tim Goodman in Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, Justice Smith would be a good fit for this part. Smith has an easy charisma that has shone through other roles in which he has played more uptight characters. Casting him as Argyle would give him the opportunity to show his more relaxed side.

Adam Scott as Richard Thornburg

Another arrogant character, Thornburg is the television reporter who cares more about the story than about people getting hurt. William Atherton was particularly good at playing obnoxious characters in the ’80s, most notably EPA inspector Walter Peck in Ghostbusters. Although Adam Scott is best known for playing Ben Wyatt, accountant and Game of Thrones enthusiast on Parks and Recreation, he has also shown off his annoying side as Trevor in The Good Place. Taking this role would allow Scott to play a character who is not only arrogant but also ruthless in his efforts to get what he wants.

Joel McHale as Harry Ellis

Finally, in the role of sleazy Nakatomi Plaza executive Harry Ellis would be Joel McHale. Played by Hart Bochner in the original movie (who would voice the similarly sleazy Arthur Reeves in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm), McHale is the modern epitome of sleazy onscreen, best known for his role as ex-lawyer Jeff Winger on Community. McHale is very good at playing characters that audiences delight in wanting to punch in the face, which makes him the best choice for a modern casting of Die Hard‘s Harry Ellis.

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