See Bruce Willis Return To His Most Iconic Movie Location

Bruce Willis returned to the single most significant setting of his entire film career and we're a little emotional.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

bruce willis

The retirement of film icon Bruce Willis due to the worsening condition of his aphasia was one of the great recent tragedies of cinema. But however sad it is to think that we will not be getting any more films from an unparalleled talent like Bruce Willis, he leaves an enormous and game-changing body of work behind as he hopefully finds time to be with family and friends. A short video posted on Instagram by his wife, model Emma Heming Willis, brings Bruce Willis back to the most iconic movie location of his entire career: Nakatomi Plaza.

To be fair, Nakatomi Plaza (or Tower, if you prefer) is actually the fictional setting of the 1988 action movie classic Die Hard. The black and white video shows Bruce Willis standing on top of the building that (in real life) is Los Angeles’ Fox Plaza. He looks in fine health, wearing a short-sleeved button-up shirt and a baseball cap, briefly looking toward the camera before leaning on a guard rail. An in-video caption states that Bruce Willis is “on top of Nakatomi Plaza 34 years later,” followed by a collection of scenes from Die Hard. The entire thing is scored by Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” (as the caption helpfully says, “Excerpts from Symphony No.9: IV. Presto- Allegro ma non troppo”), which was a significant theme of the original film. Reportedly, Die Hard film composer Michael Kamen did not want to “tarnish” the musical piece by using it in an action film, and had to be persuaded by a viewing of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, which uses the same piece. 

Die Hard was the movie that catapulted Bruce Willis from television actor to feature film leading man. There is something undeniably emotionally affecting in seeing the aged and stoic Bruce Willis back at the very place where he once watched Alan Rickman fall to his death (in the movie, that is). His performance as world-weary everyman police officer John McClane turned him into an action star overnight and gave him an iconic role that he went back to many times over the course of his long career. While it cannot be denied that the Die Hard sequels are an excellent example of diminishing returns in action, seeing Bruce Willis back at Nakatomi Plaza has to stir a fan’s heart just a little bit.

The announcement that Bruce Willis was suffering from aphasia (a condition that results in the inability to communicate) came as a shock, as the star had seemed busier in recent years than ever. The Golden Raspberry Awards had made a point of singling out Bruce Willis for his seemingly mercenary willingness to star in a large number of direct-to-DVD movies, but it is now generally assumed that he was taking the last roles of his career. Even if Bruce Willis truly never makes another movie, he has a filmography to be proud of, one that ultimately and always leads right back to Nakatomi Plaza.