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UNLV prof joins Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard’ reunion

An actor from the original “Die Hard” action film didn’t die laughing at the franchise’s commercial reboot. But he chuckled enough to join the reunion project.

“I had them send me the script, and when I read it, I laughed,” says Clarence Gilyard, the UNLV Department of Film professor who played computer terror wiz Theo in the 1988 action film. “That is a good indicator.”

It seems Gilyard wasn’t alone in having his battery recharged, as it were, for a “Die Hard” return. Bruce Willis heads up return to the title in a new commercial for the Die Hard battery, brought to us by Advanced Auto Parts.

To discuss how this all came about, and the making of the clip, Gilyard has facilitated a Zoom event set for 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday. He’s joined by the creative and marketing team that put it all together. E-mail unlvfilm@unlv.edu to request the Zoom link. There is no cost to join.

An extended, two-minute commercial is set to run during the Super Bowl. The commercial is super-sized, with a chase scene, broken glass, some bloodshed and the requisite pyrotechnics. Gilyard is shown at the top, pointing at Willis while greeting his John McClane character. He’s at the end, too, giving chase in a backhoe before (spoiler alert) it all ends badly in a ball of fire.

Somewhere in this mayhem, we are encouraged to buy a car battery.

“The marketing manager had an epiphany, which he’ll share in our town hall,” says Gilyard, who was also cast as the pilot Sundown in “Top Gun” and as Ranger Jimmy Trivette in the “Walker, Texas Ranger” TV series. “But they were planning this massive campaign and sought us out to give it some juice, as it were.”

The commercial is presented as a spoof of the “Die Hard” film franchise. It could well lead to a relaunch of “Die Hard” as a full-length movie.

“That is the idea, depending on the response,” Gilyard says. “When I got back involved, I thought, ‘This, I should do.’ The scale, the toys, the focus, the collaboration all feels like a return to the mainstream of Hollywood.”

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John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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