Die Hard director John McTiernan: “People still offer me action films”

Die Hard With A Vengeance (3) directed by John McTiernan
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Die Hard and Predator director John McTiernan reveals that he’s turned down lucrative offers to direct action films, including one about “an armed commando”.

Having directed the likes of Die Hard and Predator – among many other great movies – John McTiernan knows a thing or two about staging action. Rather than cash in on his 80s and 90s reputation, though, McTiernan has actively turned down recent – and potentially lucrative – offers to return to the action genre.

In an interview with posh French magazine Cahiers du Cinema, and spotted by World of Reel, McTiernan said he’s “still being offered action movies,” adding that only a week prior he’d been handed a script about “an armed commando.”

“There are still people ready to finance these things by waving a check for 2 million under my nose,” McTiernan said. “I really need it, but I refuse. It’s always the same: three guys arm themselves to the teeth and decimate a bunch of people in Colombia to save the daughter of one of them, etc. My country has never finished with these pathological obsessions.”

Having broke through with his first film, the low-budget horror Nomads in 1986, McTiernan went on to make a string of positively corking genre films: Predator, Die Hard and The Hunt For Red October. Medicine Man (1992) represented a bit of a creative wobble, but 1993’s Last Action Hero, initially a commercial failure, is these days regarded as a cult item. Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995) saw McTiernan truly back on form, and 1999’s The Thomas Crown Affair was a thoroughly enjoyable romantic thriller.

Trouble followed with The 13th Warrior (also 1999), which descended into a quagmire of reshoots and failed to make back its reported $160 million budget at the box office. Rollerball (2002) and Basic (2003) were similarly calamitous, and McTiernan’s career took an even greater tumble when he ended up in prison following a wiretapping scandal.

Aside from an ad for the video game Ghost Recon: Wildlands, McTiernan hasn’t directed for 20 years. There are reports circulating that a sci-fi western called Tau Ceti Foxtrot is in pre-production and will star Uma Thurman and Laurence Fishburne, but given how few in number and vague those reports are, it’s probably fair to say the project isn’t progressing too quickly. We’d love to think there’s at least one more great genre film in him; if there isn’t, we’re happy he’s still around, offering his likeably unfiltered opinions on everything from superhero movies (“The studios cannot afford to make a film about their shareholders”) to the work of Clint Eastwood.

“His films are respectable, decent and humane,” McTiernan said of Eastwood’s movies. “Personally, I don’t really understand the individual…”

Here, McTiernan described Mr Eastwood as what Cahiers du Cinema quotes in French as a ‘connard’. We’ll leave that for you to translate, gentle reader.

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