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The Action Movie That Almost Ruined Bruce Willis' Career

More than 30 years after its original theatrical release, "Die Hard" continues to hold down its spot among the greatest action films ever produced. Whether you consider it a holiday movie or not — there's no denying that it takes place on Christmas Eve and begins with a season-specific office party — the battle of wits, guns, and C4 explosions between John McClane (Bruce Willis) and Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) is a good time for all.

While Willis was already well-known at the time of the film's production from his work alongside Cybill Shepherd on the ABC dramedy "Moonlighting," there's no doubting that "Die Hard" catapulted the Carneys Point, New Jersey, product into a new stratosphere as a Hollywood star. Per Box Office Mojo, the 1988 movie grossed more than $141 million at the international box office against a production budget of just $28 million. And within a handful of years of its release, Willis was making waves with projects like "Look Who's Talking" and "Die Hard 2." 

As important as "Die Hard" was to Willis' career, though — and regardless of how highly esteemed it is — the movie also came perilously close to ruining said career before he ever got the chance to become a bona fide A-lister.

Willis' Die Hard injury continues to affect his life

During a 2007 Q&A session with The Guardian, Willis revealed that he continues to feel the effects of an accident that occurred on-set during the filming of "Die Hard." When asked by the interviewer what his most unappealing habit was, Willis answered as follows. "Due to an accident on the first 'Die Hard,' I suffer two-thirds partial hearing loss in my left ear and have a tendency to say, 'Whaaa?'" he revealed.

More recently, Willis' eldest daughter with actress Demi Moore — Rumer Willis — gave additional details on what exactly transpired while imploring the media not to pick on her father for some of the awkward interviews in his past.  "I think part of the problem is sometimes he can't hear ... because he shot a gun off next to his ear when he was doing 'Die Hard' a long time ago, so he has partial hearing loss in his ears," she said, via the Toronto Sun.

"If me and my sisters get together and he's at a dinner table and we start talking about fashion and things, the poor guy," the younger Willis joked.

Ultimately, Willis overcame his hearing problems to become one of show business's most recognizable figures and an icon of the action genre. Moreover, it's hard to envision "Die Hard" falling off its perch any time soon. Clearly, though, those things didn't come without some sacrifice on Willis' part.