5 moments that made us love Alan Rickman’s brilliantly sadistic Hans Gruber

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We lost another artistic legend this week with the death of Alan Rickman, aged 69.

Rickman was best known for his role in Harry Potter as Severus Snape, as well as iconic performances in Truly Madly Deeply, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (one of my favourite villains – the Sheriff of Nottingham), and of course, Die Hard.

Widely considered to be the greatest action movie of all time (there’s no debate as far as we’re concerned), Die Hard featured a sharp (and often very funny) script, a perfect hero (Bruce Willis’s John McClane), stunning action set pieces, and one of cinema history’s greatest villains: Hans Gruber.

While we could share hundreds of wonderful moments from Rickman’s career, here are our favourites moments from one of his most iconic performances, as Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

5. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Everything’s going to plan for Hans and his buddies, but then that pesky John McClane decides to get involved, killing one of the bad guys and sending him down the elevator. ‘Now I have a machine gun,” McClane has scrawled on the baddie’s jumper. “Ho-Ho-Ho”. Rickman acts this line with a hint of pleasure, almost revelling in the fact that he has a foe to fight against.

4. Sarcasm overload as Gruber meets Ellis

As previously mentioned, Die Hard is full of great comedy moments, and many of them come from Rickman, who has impeccable comic timing. In the scene below, office weasel Ellis tries to negotiate with Gruber. It doesn’t go well. Rickman’s Gruber is terrifically dry in response to Ellis’s ill-advised attempts to save the day.

3. John McClane meets ‘Bill Clay’

Gruber clearly didn’t think much of McClane. Would John really be THAT naive to hand a gun to a complete stranger? Obviously not, but after this moment, he knew not to underestimate his nemesis (except at the end when he decided to laugh for a good 10 seconds instead of shooting him when he had the chance).

2. I’m going to count to three

The iconic Gruber line, and the moment we – and the hostages – realise that he’s not messing around. Poor old Takagi won’t give Gruber the code, so: “I’m going to count to three. There will not be a four.” Superb.


1. Death

Has there been a greater death in cinema history? The image of Hans Gruber falling from the 30th floor of the Nakatomi building is truly iconic. Rickman’s expression is haunting. It’s been suggested that during filming, they dropped him on the count of 2 instead of 3 (in order to surprise him and get an expression of genuine fear). Rickman recently said he didn’t recall that happening, but revealed that it was indeed a large drop – about 40 feet. “They were very careful to make it my very last shot on the film,” he quipped.

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