A master craftsman notable for his almost Hitchcockian ability to create suspense and keep action moving at an exhilarating pace, director John McTiernan began his involved with theatrical arts early in life. His father was an opera singer, and McTiernan made his theatrical debut at age seven playing bit roles in his father's shows. After high school he became involved with summer stock, where he directed, acted, and designed until attended Julliard and New York University, where he studied film. He then became designer and technical director at the Manhattan School of Music.
McTiernan went on to make over 200 television commercials before making his feature film debut by directing the fantasy horror movie Nomads (1985). He followed that up with Predator (1987), a sci-fi action film featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger that spawned a franchise.
In 1988, McTiernan helmed his best-known film, the blockbuster Die Hard. Starring Bruce Willis, the film was a hit with both audiences and critics and would become one of the most influential action films ever made, inspiring countless "Die Hard in a [Blank]" followers.
In the wake of Die Hard, McTiernan scored another hit with 1990's The Hunt for Red October, the first in a series of films based on Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series. However, his luck would change with 1992's Medicine Man and get even worse with 1993's Last Action Hero, a post-modern action fantasy regarded as one of the decade's biggest flops.
To get Last Action Hero's taste out of his mouth, McTiernan returned to familiar territory in 1995, helming Die Hard with a Vengeance, the third in the series. It proved to be another hit, but McTiernan's career hit the skids over the next decade, with films like The 13th Warrior and Rollerball filling his resume.
The Die Hard series proved yet again to be McTiernan's lucky-charm in 2007, when the series' fourth outing scored at the box-office.