The tragic deaths and illnesses that have since plagued Die Hard cast

Dominic Smithers

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The tragic deaths and illnesses that have since plagued Die Hard cast

Featured Image Credit: Atlaspix/20TH CENTURY FOX/Album/Alamy

When you think of the perfect Christmas film, there are a few that come to mind.

But one movie stands out above all others as the true festive movie of our time: Die Hard.

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It's over 30 year since John McClane burst onto our screens as the gruff vest wearing cop, who accidentally finds himself in the middle of a terrorist plot at a Christmas party.

For those of you who aren't so familiar with the 1988 classic, here's a brief synopsis.

Bruce Willis stars as a New York cop who travels to LA to see his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and their two daughters on Christmas Eve.

Die Hard is one of the biggest blockbusters of the past 40 years. Credit: 20th Century Fox
Die Hard is one of the biggest blockbusters of the past 40 years. Credit: 20th Century Fox

He drops by her office, where they are celebrating closing a big deal just in time for the holidays. But the party is very quickly gate crashed by a bunch of violent German terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), who take over the high-rise building and hold everyone hostage.

And that's when McClane gets to work, picking the mercenaries off one by one.

It is a true classic, but sadly not everyone who had a hand in making it is still with us today.

Since the film's release, a number of its stars have died or been struck down by illness.

Bruce Willis

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the 67-year-old had been diagnosed with aphasia, which is a condition that affects a person's cognitive abilities.

Bruce Willis as John McClane. Credit: 20th Century Fox
Bruce Willis as John McClane. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Making the announcement back in March, the actor's family said he would be stepping back from acting.

A statement read: "This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support.

"We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him."

Alan Rickman

The British actor had a long and varied career, becoming one of the most celebrated actors of his generation.

But alongside his portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, he is perhaps best known for playing Hans Gruber.

Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. Credit: 20th Century Fox
Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. Credit: 20th Century Fox

In 2005, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but carried on filming the Harry Potter films despite his illness.

In an excerpt from one of his journal entries at the time, Rickman said: "Finally, yes to HP 5 [Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix]. The sensation is neither up nor down. The argument that wins is the one that says: 'See it through. It's your story'."

In 2015, he suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He died on 14 January 2016, aged 69.

Alexander Godunov

The ballet dancer-turned-actor played terrorist Karl Vreski in the movie.

Alexander Godunov played a terrorist in the blockbuster. Credit: 20th Century Fox
Alexander Godunov played a terrorist in the blockbuster. Credit: 20th Century Fox

Having previously performed with the Bolshoi Ballet, he defected from Russia during a tour of the US in 1979.

Godunov was 45 when he was sadly found dead at his home in 1995, having suffered with alcoholism and hepatitis.

Paul Gleason

Gleason played the very unlikeable police chief Dwayne T. Robinson, who comes to verbal blows with McClane during the film.

He starred in some of the biggest comedies of the past 40 years, including The Breakfast Club and Trading Places.

Paul Gleason played police chief Dwayne T. Robinson in the 1988 movie. Credit: 20th Century Fox
Paul Gleason played police chief Dwayne T. Robinson in the 1988 movie. Credit: 20th Century Fox

He was just 67 when he died on 27 May 2006, having been suffered from mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer that is linked to asbestos.

James Shigeta

Shigeta played Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi, the head of Nakatomi Trading, in the film, and is brutally murdered by Rickman's character fairly early on.

Having enjoyed a successful career as a singer, he eventually moved into acting, starring in Murder, She Wrote and Beverly Hills, 90210.

James Shigeta starred as Nakatomi boss Joseph Takagi. Credit: 20th Century Fox
James Shigeta starred as Nakatomi boss Joseph Takagi. Credit: 20th Century Fox

He died peacefully in his sleep in 2014, aged 85.

Clarence Gilyard

The 66-year-old played criminal tech whizz Theo, helping the terrorist group break into the company's database.

Having starred in hit tv series Walker, Texas Ranger, Gilyard stepped away from acting and became a theatre professor at the University of Nevada.

Clarence Gilyard died last month. Credit: 20th Century Fox
Clarence Gilyard died last month. Credit: 20th Century Fox

He died last month.

Announcing the sad news, university Dean Nancy J. Uscher said: "His students were deeply inspired by him, as were all who knew him.

"He had many extraordinary talents and was extremely well-known in the university through his dedication to teaching and his professional accomplishments."

While a cause of death has yet to be confirmed, his rep said he had not been well for some time.

Topics: Film & TV, Film and TV, Bruce Willis, US News, Entertainment, Harry Potter

Dominic Smithers
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