RAMSTEIN, Germany – Bruce Willis is coming.
That was the rumor buzzing among the hundreds of movie fans who flocked to Ramstein’s theater Tuesday night for a sneak peak at the seemingly indestructable superstar’s latest dizzying action flick, “A Good Day to Die Hard.”
A mysterious line on posters plugging the event advertised, “With surprise guests.” People filled in the blanks from there.
“When ‘Mission Impossible’ screened here, the star was Tom Cruise,” said Airman 1st Class Stephen Jackson, a network operations technician who was waiting in a line more than a hundred yards long with four of his friends. “So we’re all hoping it’s Bruce Willis.”
And why wouldn’t it be?
Willis, who was born less than half an hour from Ramstein to a G.I. father and German mother, has toured throughout Europe and the Middle East with the USO and was in Berlin Monday for the film’s Germany premier. That he’d pop in for a surprise visit seemed, to many, almost inevitable.
Fans of Willis and John McClane – his character in the 25-year-old action-thriller franchise – filed toward their seats as a freak storm blanketed the greater Kaiserslautern area in heavy snow.
The weather was eerily similar to that in “Die Hard 2,” in which terrorists took over Dulles Airport and stranded a jet with McClane’s wife on board in a holding pattern as a blizzard forced a near total shutdown of the greater Washington, D.C., area. In the end of that episode, McClane overcame both weather and an evil drug cartel to notch another victory for the American everyman.
But when viewers of the latest film emerged from Ramstein’s theater more than an hour and a half later, Army and Air Force Exchange Service marketing specialist Brad Nisbett was standing in the corner with a microphone and some bad news.
“Bruce Willis was not able to fly in,” he said. “He’s still grounded.”
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jamie Izar almost refused to believe it.
“No, you’re lying,” she said, stunned. “That’s my dad’s favorite actor. I was going to get a picture.”
Director John Moore and Willis’ co-star Jai Courtney did make it in, though, after a long, slow drive on a snow-covered autobahn.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for the whole duration of the production,” Moore said after posing for photographs with Courtney and scores of fans. “We promised ourselves when we got done we’d bring this [movie] to you guys.”
Working in the film business pales in comparison “to what it is that the men and women of the armed forces are doing,” Courtney said. “It is just entertainment, and we’re reminded of that.”
After getting over her initial disappointment, Izar stuck around for a photo with Courtney and wound up, despite not knowing his name just minutes earlier, star struck.
“Oh my God; I’m shaking,” she said, examining her hands. “I guess he has that aura - it’s like a celebrity aura or something.”