Very few American action films have surpassed the iconic stature of the 1988 phenomenon Die Hard, which spawned an entire franchise. Starring Bruce Willis as NYPD hero John McClane, the films have become an indispensable part of popular culture, but one particular instalment became the subject of an FBI investigation.
The film in question is none other than the 1995 sequel Die Hard with a Vengeance, whose screenplay was penned by Jonathan Hensleigh. According to Hensleigh, the FBI became very suspicious about the writer’s intimate knowledge of the Federal Reserve and how the antagonist planned to rob it.
In an interview, Hensleigh revealed that the screenplay had been verified and checked by multiple authorities before it entered the next production phase. The writer said: “When the script was being vetted by all the authorities in New York, obviously the New York Police Department had to read the script for a number of reasons.”
The screenplay raised a lot of eyebrows because Hensleigh’s research on the layout of the Federal Reserve was uncannily accurate. While writers are often celebrated for conducting spectacular research on their subject matter, that is never the case when the subject deals with national security matters.
“One day, I got a call from the FBI,” Hensleigh recalled while talking about his interaction with the FBI. “They were extremely concerned about how I knew so much about the Federal Reserve, and how the Federal Reserve’s vaults were really close to a subway spur, and logistically about the aqueduct tunnel, etc.”
Hensleigh had to explain his research methodology to the FBI, claiming that he only knew about the schematics of the Federal Reserve because he was allowed to go down there. In addition, he knew about the subway spur near the vault for one simple reason. He had access to all the plans and the layouts for his research on the film.
The FBI was also interested in the antagonist’s method of robbing the Federal Vault and escaping in dump trucks through aqueducts. However, Hensleigh had previously read about it in New York Times Sunday Magazine. The writer told the FBI: “So I’m really not employed by Afghani terrorists. I really don’t have any kind of secret proprietary knowledge that I shouldn’t have.”