Bruce Willis Saves Christmas — and Fox Plaza — in ‘Die Hard’

Lindsay Blake
·2-min read

Whether or not “Die Hard” is a holiday movie is a longtime source of debate among film aficionados. Not up for debate: The 1988 flick’s standing as an action classic. Set on Christmas Eve but released in July, the summer blockbuster was mainly lensed at Fox Plaza, the 34-story late-modern structure that stands like a beacon at 2121 Avenue of the Stars in L.A.’s Century City.

Posing as Nakatomi Plaza, headquarters of the fictional Nakatomi Corp., the faceted building is where NYPD officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) heads upon arriving in Los Angeles (“Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs!”) to visit his estranged wife, Holly Gennaro (Bonnie Bedilia), for the holidays, and winds up taking down a group of West German terrorists during a company Christmas party.

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The Class-A office building, designed by the architecture firm Johnson Fain, appears extensively in the movie. The production even made use of several floors still under construction at the time of filming. McClane plays cat-and-mouse with adversary Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his henchmen throughout the looming skyscraper, from the elevator shafts to the pink marble-clad lobby to the roof standing some 490 feet above the street below.

A scale model of the building was used for the sequence at the end of the movie in which the top floors are blown up. In real life, Fox Plaza stands intact, looking much as it did at the start of the film.

The locale boasts several additional claims to fame. Not only did Ronald Reagan set up his post-presidency offices there, but the structure has also been immortalized in such productions as “Fight Club” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” It is “Die Hard,” though, that led to its irrefutable status as one of the most recognizable fixtures of the Century City skyline.

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