People frequently start saying, “I’ve seen you someplace before!” about this time of year. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does, and I’m always startled since I played Argyle in Die Hard 33 years ago.
Lee Daniels, who is now a major director and producer in Hollywood, was my manager when I was in my early twenties. He was speaking with Jackie Burch, the casting director, since they were acquaintances, and she informed him that she was searching for a child actor for a new Bruce Willis film. They wanted a limo driver who was lively and witty, and Lee nominated me for the job. So they made up a meeting for me with Joel Silver, the producer, and Bruce Willis, the actor. Bruce had been on the programme Moonlighting at the time, and he was well-known for his work on television, but he wasn’t “Bruce Willis” yet; he wasn’t a megastar. I simply felt he was a big celebrity working with Joel Silver on a blockbuster project.
I walked in and told myself that all I could do was do my best. They requested me to read with them again, so I did it a bit differently this time, a little more lively. When I got home, there were messages on my answering machine—yes, I’m a dinosaur!—and one of them was Lee, who said they wanted me to play Argyle.
Die Hard was filmed in Los Angeles’ Fox Plaza and adjacent areas, and on my first day on site, I read with director John McTiernan, who I knew was a big name. We began to read, and I delivered my line regarding John McLane’s lack of packing. John McTiernan glanced at me and asked whether I had looked at the scene’s chemistry and aims. I was merely accustomed to operating on a high level of energy, but I assured him that I had learned the lines. He drew me to the side and stared at me with piercing eyes. I’ll never forget it, and I adored him for it; he told me Bruce’s character was a policeman, and he and his wife were divorcing, so he was going to visit her with just one bag in the hopes that they would reconcile and live happily ever after. He inquired as to whether I had received it. I answered sure, and that was the end of it. That was my favourite line when I first understood what acting was all about.
We got along pretty well after that breakthrough with John, and he understood me. Bruce’s manner indicated that he took it seriously. I liked how calm and concentrated he was. He’s a nice person who had studied and understood what he was doing, so when we performed the scene together, we were having so much fun that John told us to go ahead and do our thing, and we just improvised. We had to come to a halt a number of times because we were laughing so hard.
Because it was my character’s first day on the job, the scene at the airport when I had the sign and my sunglasses on was amusing for me, but we had previously done the scene in the vehicle, so I was in the swing of things.
I was driving the limo, but there was a camera on the window, men in the rear and front seats, and the staff made sure we were secure and protected. Everyone on Electric Boulevard, where we were travelling, was aware that we were carrying a film team. I’m also driving when I pull into the garage later in the sequence, but I wasn’t in the driver’s seat when the limo collides with the terrorists’ vehicle; that was a stunt.
Of course, movies aren’t made the same way they were back then. Die Hard was one of the last action films to be made without the use of computer graphics (computer-generated imagery). A lot of explosions happened. They must have spent a lot because I’d be in my dressing room and hear “BOOM! BOOM!” from the top of Fox Plaza, which in the movie was Nakatomi Plaza.
Alexander Godunov, who portrayed Karl, lived just down the street from where I was living in Benedict Canyon at the time, but I didn’t see him very much. I approached him on set one day as he was getting ready to shoot and said, “Alex, right?” “Alexander!” he screamed as he pulled his hair around and stomped away. I was taken aback since I get along with everyone and thought it was impolite. For a time, I was moved by it, but I eventually discovered that he was acting. He was a gifted individual, and it’s a shame that he died.
The only thing I knew about Alan Rickman was that he was an Englishman. He simply seemed to be this guy. Some actors are laser-focused on their roles, while he was merely a technician who was laser-focused.
I liked everyone in the cast, but Reginald VelJohnson, who portrayed Sgt. Al Powell, was my favourite. We didn’t work together, but we did encounter one other sometimes, and I kept an eye on his behaviour. He was a gentleman with a pleasant demeanour. Having Black role models was crucial then, as it is today. So, although Bruce was cool, Reginald stood out.
After its publication, Die Hard rapidly became a huge hit, and I don’t believe anybody could have predicted this. In the summer of 1988, there was a showing of the film in Westwood, Los Angeles, and my pals wanted to attend. At 5 p.m., it was completely full. Despite the fact that I had not requested it, my buddies urged the manager to allow us in since I had co-starred in the film. “Absolutely, that’s Argyle!” the manager is supposed to have remarked. People began turning around and pointing as soon as I sat down in the centre of the cinema, even before the movie started. I’m guessing they’d previously seen it.
People continue to inquire whether I will be their limo driver or if I have recently driven a limo. That’s something I have to convince them is just in movies. Following the film, I found myself as a passenger in limousines in the 1990s. My drivers were aware that I was portraying a limo driver, so it was interesting to see things from a different viewpoint. I didn’t get to take the large bear home with me; he was returned to the prop crew. I really liked the teddy bear, but I never thought to ask for it.
Die Hard is not just one of the first action movies, but it’s also a Christmas cult favourite. That’s exactly what it is, according to Argyle! But I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t appear in the sequels; it was just a matter of scheduling. I believe there was a plan for me to return as a rookie officer, but the timing didn’t work out since I was busy filming Trespass with Ice T and Ice Cube. And, if I contacted Bruce for anything after Die Hard, he would have someone call me and check on me, even if he was busy.
I was travelling with my girlfriend in LA one day when I saw this Corvette pass me on the right and drive up to the lights ahead. “Hey, that’s Bruce Willis!” my girlfriend said. As a result, I pursued him and drew up beside him. He was in a relationship with Demi Moore at the time. I recall him asking what I was doing, then recognising me and exclaiming, “Argyle!” We both busted out laughing.
I had TV series bidding over me after the popularity of Die Hard, and I ended up booking Head of the Class. It was enjoyable, but life began to resemble a grey region with a black area for me. I had it all: a Hollywood home, a Range Rover, and a Mercedes. Madonna resided over the hill, so I could go to whatever club I wanted.
But I was simply a child who became engrossed in the Hollywood craze. My mother died when I was ten years old during Christmas, and I believe my life became all about the parties, and I gravitated toward fame and money rather than coping with the grief. I was at a club with a group of men, including Wesley Snipes, one night. They told me I was going to be huge and how fortunate I was. But it didn’t make me happy, so I began to drink heavily to bury my emotions.
I believe I needed to discover who I really was. So I confronted all of my worries, as well as everything that had transpired since my mother’s death. It took a long time, but I’m now happy than I’ve ever been. I currently work as a clinician at a rehabilitation institution; I received my certification in 2013 and have continued my education since then. I discovered that I wanted to serve others.
Last year, the DieHard vehicle battery ad aired. It was incredible. We shot during COVID in 2020, so I had to shoot my sequences separately from Bruce’s, and I hadn’t seen him in a long time. I was on set one day when he approached me, patted me on the shoulder, and said, “Argyle!” I spun around and gave him this look, then shouted, “What the hell have you been up to? By now, I may have been dead!” We embraced after he glanced at me and then busted out laughing.
My favourite phrase from Die Hard is “Yippie Ki-yay Motherf*****!” and the ad reminded me of that. In the commercial, I begin to speak it, but Bruce stops me and says, “That’s my line.” Things seem to have gone full circle now, and I’m working on several acting projects.
Even today, people remember me from Die Hard. I reside in the Newport Beach region, so it’s not as bad as it sounds, but it still occurs. I was recently pulled over by officers for driving too fast, and one of them said, “I recognise you from someplace!” I chuckled to myself and inquired whether they’d watched Die Hard, to which the officer said, “It was you, with the teddy bear!” I reply sure, but I make it clear that I’m not attempting to exploit it to get out of the situation and that I accept full responsibility for my actions.
On Die Hard, my favourite scene was when John McTiernan exclaimed, “That’s a wrap!” I was delighted that we had accomplished this project, especially because everyone had put so much effort into it. But it never occurred to me that I had the movie’s last line. I knew it was a crucial moment, but all I remember is doing my line, going around, and getting into the limo. I was just grateful for the opportunity and hoped for the best.
De’voreaux White is a Los Angeles-based actor who may be found on Facebook under the name De’Voreaux Sefas White.