(1951- ) American film director; directed/produced primarily action movies including major hits Die Hard and Predator.
Born in 1951, McTiernan grew up around the theater, thanks to his father's career as an opera singer. He appeared in several bit parts in his father's shows. The drama bug bit, and John studied film at Julliard and later New York University.
After building a reperoire of techniques and skills through directing television commercials, McTiernan debuted as a feature director with a weakly-received and mostly standard-fare (at the time) horror movie, Nomads.
McTiernan's sophomore effort, Predator soon followed. It was the second outing for Arnold Schwarzenegger as an actor and not just a pile of muscles (the first being 1985's Commando). This sci-fi adventure creatively used available technology to thrill and chill audiences in ways much more effectively than saran-wrapped Michael Rennie or plywood Daleks -- and way closer to home than the far-away future planet of LV-426. The well-depicted interstellar safari hunter who can see his prey while remaining invisible to it terrified an entire generation of children.
A year later, however, McTiernan broke the mold again and established the benchmark for all future action films. With Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis (who before Die Hard was widely recognized as just a cute face from Moonlighting), McTiernan wove an intense plot, creative and cunning villains, emotional struggle, and even a bit of political commentary into a film which breathed new life into a genre that many considered beaten and destined for B-movie obscureness.
In the 1990s, McTiernan continued to churn out hits including the first of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan stories to be translated to the big screen, The Hunt for Red October. He again directed Sean Connery in The Medicine Man and later re-teamed with Schwartzenegger for the childhood-fantasy Last Action Hero. After Renny Harlin directed the second movie in the Die Hard franchise, McTiernan was behind the reins of the much more ambitious and smarter Die Hard: With a Vengeance.
After a relative flop, The 13th Warrior, which relied heavily on Americans' ignorance of other races (casting Spanish Antonio Banderas as Arab Ahmed Ibn Fadlan), McTiernan returned to fame (and infamy, in regards to Rollerball) with remakes of two Norman Jewison movies, The Thomas Crown Affair (starring Pierce Brosnan, who McTiernan had previously directed in Nomads) and Rollerball.
Mr. McTiernan is currently working on a project due for a 2003 release, Basic: a John Travolta and Sam Jackson vehicle about a DEA agent investing a suspected Army conspiracy.