Bruce Willis gifted us with one of the best action movies and most relatable action heroes of all time with his role as John McClane in Die Hard. Unfortunately, he also lost most of the hearing in his left ear to do it. While filming the movie, the firing of one of the prop guns caused irreparable damage to his hearing, and it has been that way ever since.
Though Bruce Willis, fortunately, didn’t suffer a fatal injury on the set, the blanks in his prop gun still caused him to have lifelong hearing loss. Apparently, the blanks used in Die Hard were made to be louder than most. For most scenes, this might not matter, but when the gun is close to your ear in a confined space, it’s easy to see how it became a problem.
The scene that reportedly caused his hearing damage featured an iconic one-liner from John McClane as he took out one of the German terrorists attacking the Nakatomi Plaza tower. McClane is under a table, trying to dodge gunshots from the terrorist. Once the terrorist catches up with him, he tells McClane “next time you have the chance to kill someone, don’t hesitate.” After McClane shoots him dead from under the table, he quips “good advice.” To shoot this scene, Bruce Willis had the gun fairly close to his face, which might explain the hearing damage from the noise.
There are many movies that use prop guns and, as many on-set incidents have taught us, it’s imperative to take as many safety precautions as possible. When safety protocol is neglected, tragic incidents can happen. The most recent example was the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust. The untimely death of Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow also demonstrates the need to be extra cautious when dealing with blanks.
While Bruce Willis probably wishes he could have avoided the hearing loss, he’s likely glad he was able to land the roles of John McClane. Die Hard was essentially his big break in Hollywood, as the only thing he was really known for before that was the TV series Moonlighting. Die Hard would rocket him to movie superstardom and the rest is history. He would go on to make several Die Hard sequels and star in classic movies like Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense, Armageddon, The Fifth Element, and many more. Today, he’s mostly known as an action star, something that got started with his iconic role as John McClane.
Though Bruce Willis may have issues with his hearing, it hasn’t slowed down his work ethic. In 2022 alone, he has six projects that are set to come out. The first of which is a film called Vendetta. The other projects he stars in include movies called Fortress: Sniper’s Eye, The Wrong Place, Die Like Lovers, Fortress 3, and Corrective Measures. That’s not even including the projects he has coming out that don’t have a release date. So, if you’re a big fan of Bruce Willis, you have plenty of new movies to look forward to in the near future.