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Colonel William Stuart

Colonel William Stuart in his U.S. Army uniform while still in active-duty within the Army.

"Who I am is unimportant. What I want...well, if you don't want those planes to start splashing into the Potomac 'cause they run out of fuel, what I want is very important."
―Colonel Stuart [src]

Colonel William Stuart was the cold-hearted ex-US Special Forces commander turned traitor and terrorist who leads the takeover of Dulles International Airport to free South American drug lord General Ramon Esperanza. He is the main antagonist of Die Hard 2.

Colonel Stuart is almost unanimously regarded as the craziest of all the Die Hard terrorists. He would practice martial arts moves naked every morning furiously and would eventually crash an entire plane full of civilians just to prove a point. Stuart is the coldest and most unpredictable of all the main antagonists in the whole series. Stuart was a delusional man whose take on reality was even more detached than that of Hans Gruber.


William Stuart has blond hair and blue eyes.

Early Life[]

Colonel Stuart and General Esperanza

Colonel Stuart signing a document with General Esperanza

Colonel Stuart was a martial arts expert and a brilliant military strategist. He worked as a Special Forces officer, and at one time was a student of Major Grant. Stuart was a strong supporter of General Ramon Esperanza, due to his strong anti-communist beliefs, funding him even when Congress put a stop to it. When Congress learned that Stuart covertly continued financing and supplying Esperanza and training government troops, the U.S. Army responded by terminating Stuart's command. The Army also prepared charges against Stuart for violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, however Stuart fled the United States before the court martial was scheduled to convene.

Die Hard 2[]

Leading the takeover of Dulles control tower[]

Stuart was practicing his martial arts skills while completely naked in the hotel near Dulles International Airport where General Esperanza will be taken from Val Verde to the US to stand trial. He and the former members of his unit start their operation to free Esperanza from justice by taking over the Dulles International Airport. Col. Stuart accidentally bumps into hero cop John McClane in the airport, as they thought they recognized each other, but were unable to figure it out.

At the airport terminal, Stuart's first lieutenant, Garber met up with him and informs him that they have a problem with personnel due to a last-minute replacement. After being asked about the security around the airport, Stuart tells Garber that it is a joke, as they expected. Then reporter Samantha Coleman came in and asked for questions. Stuart gives her a "Fuck and You" comment as Garber blocks the camera and walked away.

Later, Stuart met up with many members of his former unit as they are setting up the makeshift airport equipment at the Highland Lake Community Church out by the airport. Once Miller returns alone, he informs Stuart that a cop killed Cochrane, but has completed their mission, planting a scrambling device on the luggage area. Stuart says that their damage is minimal, but the penalty is severe and points his pistol at Miller's head and fires, but the chamber of the gun was empty, sparing Miller. The colonel says to his man that if he fails again, the chamber won't be empty next time.


Stuart practices his skills in his first appearance.

After Burke calls Stuart on the encoded radio that the generator that powers their makeshift airport equipment is operational, he tells his men to fire up their equipment. They shut down Dulles towers landing systems and instruments, rending the planes above them unable to land due the deadly snowstorm. Stuart calls Dulles tower and reveals that he's the one who took control of their systems while being careful not to reveal his name. He tells Trudeau, chief of IAD air operations, that the plane transporting Esperanza, Foreign Military One, will be landing at the airport in 58 minutes. Stuart announced the plane will land in the runway of his destination and it will remain isolated and not to be approached. He also demands the Boeing 747-cargo conversion plane fully fueled and placed in his disposal. Stuart warns the tower that any attempt to restore their systems will be met with severe consequences and hangs up.

Crashing Windsor 114[]

"We got you."
―Colonel Stuart saying that after the frantic calls from the pilots of Windsor 114 which he caused to crash [src]

At the church, when Garber was unable to get a reply from O'Reilly and his men at the annex skywalk near the antenna array that was just bombed by them, Kahn comes down from the choir loft and informs Stuart that their people killed the SWAT team near the skywalk from the intercepted call from IAD chief of communications Leslie Barnes. Outraged that his men are also killed, Stuart calls Dulles Tower that they are going to pay the penalty. McClane contacts him through Barnes tie-in phone to try to convince him that the death of five airport officers is penalty enough. The airport police captain, Carmine Lorenzo, rudely berates McClane, which allows Stuart to know his enemy. Stuart reveals his intentions of rescuing Esperanza to McClane and tells him to witness what he's going to do. McClane, in a fit of anger and sarcasm, remarks that if killing officers is not enough will a neutron bomb be deployed. Stuart calmly remarks that he can find "a happy medium".

1359745251 2

Colonel Stuart prepares to crash Windsor 114.

He asks the systems technical expert, Thompson, for a flight that's low on fuel. Thompson finds Windsor 114, which was flying transatlantic from London. He has Thompson to recalibrate the sea level minus 200 feet so that the plane can't see the runway due to the blizzard. Impersonating the Dulles approach controller, Stuart tells the pilots to land in runway 29. Afterwards, he came back to his normal voice as Dulles tower and tells Windsor 114 he's clear to land. As the plane flies into the concrete, he hears the pilots' screams as he mercilessly looks on and taunts them that he's got them. After the crash, Stuart calls Dulles Tower and again requests the 747 to ready on time and General Esperanza's plane arrived unapproached to avoid any further penalties.

After Garber reveals that everything is done as they anticipated, Stuart watches reporter Sam Coleman's report of his own plane crash. He crumbles the slip of information on the Windsor flight he crashed.

Tricks up his sleeves[]


Colonel Stuart listening to Esperanza on the radio.

As Stuart was making the announcement to his men, Thompson finds that General Esperanza's plane has arrived in Dulles airspace. Stuart tells Dulles tower not to attempt to land any planes since they are going to light up the runway for Esperanza. Stuart again poses as Dulles Tower and contacts Foreign Military One. He tells the pilots on board to land on runway 15. Then he heard the sound of gunfire on the plane and checks on the airport radio but doesn't get a response. Then Esperanza calls them on the encoded radio on the mayday call. Stuart discards the airport radio and takes Garber's radio as he speaks to Esperanza. The dictator says he lost cabin pressure and is near zero visibility. He requests to land the accessible since he can't land in runway 15. Stuart gets him to land on runway 25R and has Thompson change runway lights. Relieved that Esperanza will be landing safely, Stuart heads for the runway with Garber, Thompson and Kahn. As he and his men see McClane taking Esperanza at gunpoint, they opened fired on him. Although McClane killed Thompson, Stuart and his men have McClane pinned in the cockpit. Stuart mocks McClane that his death will be considered a military funeral and he and his men fired at the cockpit. Then they tossed grenades in the cockpit and cleared away as the plane explodes. Stuart and the others see McClane ejected safely. But they saw the fire trucks about to arrive and went back to the church.


Stuart and Gen. Esperanza at the Church preparing to leave.

As Burke was patching up Esperanza's grazed shoulder wound, Stuart tells him that their escape vehicle will be ready within 30 minutes. Then the trip wire alarm sounded, Garber tells him that Army Special Forces are coming in from all sides of the church. Knowing well it was Major Grant and his men, they set their magazines to blanks and staged a fake firefight to keep up appearances as his men are planting C4 explosives on the airport equipment. He escapes at the back of the church with Esperanza, Garber, Miller, Kahn and Burke on snowmobiles. After McClane kills Burke and Garber, Stuart sees him driving Garber's snowmobile and has Miller take him on as he and Kahn parked their snowmobiles. Knowing McClane is carrying blanks in Garber's machine gun, he switches his magazines to real bullets. Then he and his men fired at the snowmobile, and it explodes. Thinking that they finally killed their adversary, they head out.

Stuart calls Dulles tower and learns that the 747 is at Hanger 11, the most remote hanger that the airport have. After Stuart tells to confirm the condition of the plane, Grant calls in, pretending to be an enemy and silently tells him to he and his men will meet in the plane. After arriving in Hanger 11, Grant calls Stuart on the encoded radio and they are on the way. Once Grant and his team arrived in Hanger 11, he and Esperanza met up with Grant. Stuart congratulates all of his men for their victory before going onboard the 747.



Stuart before his demise.

Before they can take off, McClane, who survived the snowmobile chase, jumps onto their getaway plane's left wing and forcibly blocks the ailerons, making the plane unable to take off. Stuart and Grant go out to the wing to kill McClane. McClane kills Grant by pushing him into an engine, then Stuart attacks McClane. Though McClane bites a chunk of Stuart's hand off, he is no match for the Colonel's fighting skills. Stuart manages to kick McClane off the plane and bid him "happy landings" but not before McClane grabs onto the fuel tank and rips it open, creating a long jet fuel trail that melts through the snow on the runway. Stuart removed the fire jacket off the ailerons and went back inside the plane not knowing the plane is leaking fuel. When he, General Esperanza, and the last of his remaining men are preparing to take off and escape to the tropics, McClane pulls out his Zippo Lighter and ignites the fuel trail. The flames shoot up the leak on the aircraft just as it lifts off of the runway, and Stuart and all of his men were Killed in the resulting explosion. avenging the passengers and flight crew of Windsor 114.


Colonel Stuart is the most ruthless villain in the series. He was a military man who will go to any lengths, no matter how cruel, to accomplish his mission. The prime example of this happens when he punishes the airport by crashing Windsor Flight 114. Stuart is even shown to be quite cold when it comes to leading his team of mercenaries. When Miller mentions that Cochrane was killed while they were wiring the luggage bay, Stuart threatens to kill him if he fails again. Despite this factor, later on in the film (after Esperanza has been rescued) Stuart becomes more flippant in his actions; being more pleasant to his accomplices and smiling sadistically when firing upon McClane. Stuart is also the only main antagonist to be a match for McClane on a physical level as well as intelligence.


Expert Martial Artist: Colonel Stuart was a formidable combatant and also had an impressive reaction time. Rather than striking his opponent first, he mainly does counter attacks. This is proven when he engaged into a hand-to-hand combat with McClane on the plane wing and almost either dodged, blocked, or countered every single blow McClane threw on him.

Master Strategist: Stuart was also a master strategist. Along with Ramon Esperanza, he made a perfect plan to avoid the General's extradition.


For Colonel Stuart quotes, click here.


  • His first name is William in the script, but this is never stated on screen.
  • According to the original script, Colonel Stuart's death was different compared to the final film: in the script, he remained outside on the airplane's wing a bit longer after knocking off McClane, then took notice of the fuel trail as McClane lights it; horrified, he ordered Esperanza to take off, but it was too late as the fuel caused the plane to explode, and Stuart was promptly burned to ashes.
  • Colonel Stuart is most likely based off of Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who was behind the Iran-Contra affair during the Ronald Reagan administration and is also a firm anti-communist. Much like Colonel Stuart Oliver North was a supporter of Dictators such as Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega and Honduran Military Leaders connected to the drug trade while in the Pentagon. However the difference between Stuart and North, is that Stuart is a U.S. Army officer, based on the uniform shown in the early scene, while North was a Marine officer.
  • Based on the insignia on his U.S. Army uniform shown on a TV at the early scene, it is implied that Stuart is a Full-Bird Colonel, one rank higher than his real-life inspiration character Oliver North who was still a Lieutenant Colonel when he was discharged from the Marines.
  • Although Stuart's military background was in the U.S. Army Special Forces, it is heavily implied that Stuart might have experience in aviation and experience in flying an aircraft, since he was seen seating in the co-pilot seat and conducting several instrument checks on the Boeing 747 plane used by Stuart, Esperanza and their entourage to escape which was shown in the last scene.
  • If it weren't for McClane destroying the plane in mid-air, Stuart's plan would have succeeded.
  • Colonel Stuart's infamous and bizarre introduction was the idea of director Renny Harlin to show how psychotic the character is.
  • Colonel Stuart is the only villain whose motive is not money, albeit not directly. General Esperanza's motive was money and promised to reward Stuart's men for freeing him with large sums of money.
  • Colonel Stuart has the highest kill count of all the Die Hard villains, having personally ordered the deaths of nearly 230 people on Windsor 114 as well as numerous others over the course of the airport siege.
  • Of all the villains that appear in Die Hard 2, Stuart (along with General Ramon Esperanza and Oswald Cochrane) is the only villain to have a full name as opposed to a single name. Unlike them, it's never revealed in the film.


Die Hard Wiki has a collection of images related to William Stuart.

Behind the Scenes[]

Colonel Stuart is portrayed by William Sadler.


Die Hard Die Hard 2 Die Hard with a Vengeance Live Free or Die Hard A Good Day to Die Hard

Die Hard Characters
John McClane - Holly Gennero - Lucy McClane - John McClane, Jr. - Al Powell - Richard Thornburg
Die Hard Hans Gruber - Karl Vreski - Dwayne T. Robinson - Harry Ellis - Joe Takagi - Argyle - Ginny - Theo - Eddie - Heinrich - Alexander - Tony Vreski - Franco - Fritz - Marco - Uli - James - Kristoff - Harvey Johnson - Gail Wallens - Mitchell - Rivers - Special Agent Johnson - Agent Johnson
Die Hard 2 William Stuart - Ramon Esperanza - Major Grant - Carmine Lorenzo - Leslie Barnes - Ed Trudeau - Marvin - Samantha Coleman - Garber - Kahn - Oswald Cochrane - O'Reilly - Baker - Thompson - Burke - Miller - Sheldon - Shockley - Mulkey - Sherman - Albertson - Telford - Vito Lorenzo
Die Hard with a Vengeance Simon Gruber - Zeus Carver - Joe Lambert - Connie Kowalski - Walter Cobb - Ricky Walsh - Mathias Targo - Katya - Charles Weiss - Jane - Fred Schiller - Dexter - Raymond - Jerry Parks - Karl - Otto - Mischa - Nils - Klaus - Rolf
Live Free or Die Hard Matt Farrell - Thomas Gabriel - Mai Linh - Warlock - Miguel Bowman - Emerson - Trey - Russo - Rand - Del - Molina - Taylor - Raj
A Good Day to Die Hard Yuri Komarov - Irina Komarov - Viktor Chagarin - Alik - Mike Collins - Murphy