John McTiernan Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (8)  | Trivia (19)  | Personal Quotes (8)  | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Albany, New York, USA
Birth NameJohn Campbell McTiernan Jr.
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

John McTiernan was born on January 8, 1951 in Albany, New York, USA as John Campbell McTiernan Jr. He is a director and producer, known for Die Hard (1988), Rollerball (2002) and Last Action Hero (1993). He has been married to Gail Sistrunk since 2012. He was previously married to Kate Harrington, Donna Dubrow and Carol Land.

Family (3)

Spouse Gail Sistrunk (2012 - present)
Kate Harrington (19 July 2003 - 2012)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Donna Dubrow (1988 - 1997)  (divorced)
Carol Land (12 October 1974 - ?)  (divorced)
Children McTiernan, John "Jack" Clarence
McTiernan, Truman Elizabeth
McTiernan, Isabella Ruby Montecelli
Parents John McTiernan Sr.

Trade Mark (8)

Often shows characters speaking in a foreign, unsubtitled language. According to McTiernan, this habit comes from the countless foreign films he saw as a student.
Films often feature lens flare (Die Hard (1988) even had a sound effect synced up to a flare).
Often works with Australian cinematographers Donald McAlpine, Dean Semler, Peter Menzies Jr. and Steve Mason.
Frequently casts Sven-Ole Thorsen in minor roles. (Predator (1987), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Last Action Hero (1993), and The 13th Warrior (1999)).
Enjoys working with the composers of the James Bond franchise (Bill Conti, Michael Kamen, Éric Serra).
Known for directing violent, high-energy action-adventures (Predator (1987), Die Hard (1988), The Hunt for Red October (1990)).
Very active movement of camera
Connecting separate shots with a camera pan

Trivia (19)

Has remade two of Norman Jewison's films: The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and Rollerball (1975).
Attended Julliard School in New York and The American Film Institute in L.A.
In a criminal-wiretapping case filed by the U.S. District Attorney for Los Angeles, John McTiernan plead guilty to lying to F.B.I. agents about requesting to have Anthony Pellicano investigate producer Charles Roven during production of Rollerball (2002). Sentenced to four months in federal prison on 09/24/07, plea was withdrawn and restated as innocent since statement had been given to FBI when McTiernan was admittedly suffering jet-lag and drunk after arriving in US from UK trip. Case was tried and US conviction was handed down on 10/4/2010 by US District Judge Dale Fischer with one-year sentence and $100,000 USD fine against McTiernan. McTiernan's attorneys announced intent to appeal and he is currently free on appeal.
Has directed four actors to Golden Razzie nominations: Lorraine Bracco, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O'Brien, and Rebecca Romijn.
Was a candidate to direct Batman Forever (1995), but he was busy with Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995).
Was originally considered to direct Mission: Impossible (1996).
Was offered the chance to direct Commando (1985), but turned it down. He worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger later on Predator (1987) and Last Action Hero (1993).
Was offered to direct Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993).
On July 3, 2006, his former wife, film producer Donna Dubrow, filed suit against him for invasion of privacy and other claims arising from her belief that he hired Pellicano to wiretap her telephone during their divorce negotiations. The lawsuit continued over time, and was still pending as of October 2015.
Turned down the chance to direct Die Hard 2 (1990) and Predator 2 (1990) in order to direct The Hunt for Red October (1990). He later directed Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), the next entry in the "Die Hard" film series.
Spent two years developing "The Adventures of Robin Hood" for 20th Century Fox. The project was cancelled after Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) went into production.
Was attached to direct "Sun-Tzu: the Art of War" for French producer Samuel Hadida in 2003-2004.
He was asked to direct Speed (1994), but declined. The film was famously described as "Die Hard (1988) on a bus".
He was considered to direct Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).
He was initially attached to direct Patriot Games (1992), but departed when Alec Baldwin dropped out. He moved on to Medicine Man (1992), which reunited him with Sean Connery, the star of the preceeding film, The Hunt for Red October (1990).
He was considered to direct X-Men (2000).
He has directed one film that has been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Die Hard (1988).
McTiernan is one of only two directors with films on both the IMBb Top 250 and Bottom 100. Die Hard (1988) is on the Top 250, while Rollerball (2002) is the on the Bottom 100. The only other director to accomplish this feat is Guy Ritchie.

Personal Quotes (8)

You take it one step at a time and the basic rule is to work on movies you would like to go see because it takes too long and it's too hard to work on a project for somebody else just because it's a job. When it's four in the morning and you've been working 18 hours a day for 10 months straight you had better care about the film, otherwise you couldn't put out the way you have to. To do it well, you don't have any other life, so it better be something you enjoy.
[on his approach to filmmaking] I worked for Ján Kadár, the great Czech filmmaker. If you read Hemingway, half of the information you get is in this style of how he tells you, his prose style. It's not literally the events he recounts, it's how he recounts them, which appears to be obsessively simple in nature. There's a hint to what people are thinking, but he doesn't go off into these vast internal monologues. That's what Jan's style was like. He used to make me sit down and learn movies shot-for-shot. And we'd watch films by some great masters, like Kubrick and Fellini and Jan would say "See! Look what he did wrong there! That's wrong! Do you understand why it's wrong?" And I'd say 'What's wrong with it? It's a nice shot.' "No, no," Jan would say, "visually, it's out of key." He had a whole sense that you had to approach filmmaking like you were composing a piece of music. It wasn't about making a translation from a literary source. To decide what the next note is in a piece of music, you don't think about the plot, or what it means, you think about: what does it sound like? Is it in the right rhythm, the right key? So the montage in a film needs to be in the same key, and if you're going to change key, you'd better transpose it into the other key, as if you were composing a concerto. In color and lighting also, there are visual melodies. It's weird because I'm sort of known as an "action guy," who gets 10,000 machine guns and blows things up. But I cut my teeth on very esoteric European films. Maybe what Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop (1987), Starship Troopers (1997)) and I did was to take the technology that the Europeans developed in the 60's and started applying it to mass market American movies. Paul has an expressive narrator in that his camera is an active, expressive person. I think it's a very angry, very fiery person. If you think about American films before the European influence in the 1960's, there was no active narrator. With a few exceptions, the camera just photographed the action and didn't really have a distinctive voice of its own.
[on learning what a film was] I went about it like it was reverse engineering. I knew that I had to go and learn what a movie was, not just my experience of going and watching a movie. So I went and sat in Truffaut's Day for Night (1973), watched it for three days straight, eight hours at a time and memorized it shot-for-shot. I got past the story, all the original and secondary experience, so I could study what it was that I was really watching. Film is really sort of a chain that's really linear. Yet when it's all strung together, it just sort of feels like an experience. It takes quite a while to be able to deconstruct that experience to figure out what you really saw.
[advice for novice filmmakers] It's the same thing of how you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. (laughs) Also, I'd say get a hold of a video camera and just shoot as much as you can, of anything. If you have a script, get a couple actors together and shoot two pages from the script, then edit the footage on a really basic video editing program. It takes as long to develop a prose style on film as it does a prose style in writing, so it's crucial to practice whenever and however you can.
[on what Ján Kadár taught him while at AFI] What he used to make me memorize was the shots. He'd say, "Ok, learn that movie!" - by learn that movie he meant; you sit down with a bunch of pile of paper and pencils and write - shot for shot - the movie from memory. I learned a bunch of movies that way. I learned (1963) that way which is a very complex film. I learned A Clockwork Orange (1971)...his notion was that if you really wanna become a filmmaker, you have to get that conversant. You have to be able to carry that much in your mind. If you want to be a world class musician, instrumentalist player of something; piano, or violin or something. You'd have dozens maybe hundreds of scores, you'd have hours of music in your mind! You'd never need to look at the piece of paper, all those hours would be in your mind! And you couldn't possibly be good enough unless you had done enough work to put all that music in your mind. So that you would just be able to sit down and call up note for note some piece of Mozart or one of the classics of your profession. And his notion with me - because the way he put it he just said "You have eyes, so you better learn to use them". Instead of thinking of movies as print - which is the way they're always approached; a pile of paper. It's always the events and the words that will be spoken. Instead of thinking of movies that way, he made me learn to think of movies as a chain of images where you would fashion the entire chain of images. Just like a music student could hold a concerto in his mind, you should hold the movie in your mind; the images - never mind the words, the images - "Where is the camera for that shot. What kind of lens was it? What was the camera doing?" - on every shot.
[on character 'Osborne' in Basic (2003)] She's the audience's representative. She's the detective. She's the one trying to get to the truth. [audio commentary]
[on Basic (2003)] The camera isn't just moving for the sake of keeping it moving. The camera is an active narrator in a thriller. The camera has to tell you how to evaluate every piece information you get and put it into context. [audio commentary]
Last Action Hero (1993) was the worst time I've ever had in this business. (...) The whole thing would have profited from a little more digestion. The movie, from the moment the studio said they wanted to do it until it was in the theatres, was nine-and-a-half months. Which was a month too short. In hindsight, we were arrogant, too. (...) It was something like three weeks from the end of shooting to when it was in the theatres...Do you know the old joke? The editing department says to Cecil B. DeMille, 'The editors are dropping like flies.' And DeMille says, 'Hire more flies!' We were living that. There are enormous sequences in the film that are literally how it came out of my camera. We cut the heads and tails off, and that's the sequence; it wasn't edited at all. (...) I didn't have time to get intimately involved in all the press disasters, but the advertising campaign was terrible. It did seem that if they hadn't overhyped the movie, it would have been a lot easier to sell it. Because it's actually sweet and kind of small in its heart. It isn't Cleopatra (1963). It's the anti-Cleopatra. And if they had come on a little more quietly, it probably would have worked out better for them. (...) I saw Jurassic Park (1993) that summer: it's a fabulous movie. But the studio tried to set us against each other, which was an idiotic thing to do. Because we weren't the greatest action movie of all time. We were never supposed to be. (...) That was a crazy time and you get to take a bite at the world as you find it. I'm happy I made it, but we pushed ourselves too far. [Empire 2012]

Salary (1)

Last Action Hero (1993) $5,000,000

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