Heat Facts: 16 Things You Didn't Know
It's Decades season once again at hmv with loads of offers on classic titles availble in our stores around the UK - as well as in our online store - and we're celebrating the finest films from 90 years of cinema with some fact-filled features on the most exciting films from each decade. This week we're heading back to the 1990s and digging up some of the lesser-known facts about Michael Mann's 1995 heist thriller, Heat...
Arguably Micael Mann's finest film, Heat was released in 1995 saw Al Pacino and Robert De Niro leading a star-studded cast that also includes Val Kilmer, Jon Voigt, Natalie Portman, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Danny Trejo and former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins. Pacino stars as a cop trying to catch one of Chicago's most notorious bank robbers, with Robert De Niro in the role of his criminal nemesis in Mann's cat-and-mouse heist thriller.
Despite the fact that both Pacino and De Niro both appeared in The Godfather Part II, the split timeline meant that the two actors never shared a scene and Heat holds the distinction of being the first film to feature both men onscreen at the same time. But you knew that already, didn't you? Well, here are another 15 Heat movie facts that you may not know...
1. The scene in which Al Pacino and Robert De Niro's characters meet wasn't rehearsed
Despite both actors having starred in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather: Part II, the film's split chronology meant that the pair never actually appeared on-screen together, making Heat the first time Pacino and De Niro actually shared a scene. According to director Michael Mann, De Niro suggested that the scene shouldn't be rehearsed so that the sense of unfamiliarity between their respective characters was as real as possible. Despite reports of tensions between the two actors on set, Pacino agreed that it was the right call.
2. Keanu Reeves almost played the role of Chris Shiherlis
Although Val Kilmer was reportedly Michael Mann's first choice for the role, Kilmer was already contracted to appear in Batman Forever and it looked as though clashing schedules would prevent him from doing both, so Keanu Reeves was signed up to play the role instead. However, Kilmer was able to negotiate some changes to the filming schedule, which allowed him to do both. Unfortunately for Keanu, that meant getting dropped from the film.
3. Jon Voigt's character was based on real-life criminal-turned-actor Edward Bunker
Voigt's character Nate was reportedly based on Edward Bunker, a former career criminal who went straight and ended up as an actor. He's probably best-known for his role as Mr. Blue in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, but he's also appeared in numerous others including The Longest Yard, Tango & Cash and The Running Man.
4. It was Natalie Portman's second ever feature film
A young Natalie Portman had made her debut on the big screen a year earlier in Luc Besson's cult hit Leon: The Professional and was still only 14 years old when she appeared in Michael Mann's film.
5. Al Pacino really did punch Henry Rollins in the face
The former Black Flag frontman appears in the film as Hugh Benny, one of Roger van Zant's henchman, and is involved in a pretty brutal fight scene with Al Pacino. A stuntman was used for the scene in which Benny is thrown through a plate glass window, but the rest of the scene is all Rollins, and it got a little rough.
In an interview with Yahoo Movies, Rollins explained that Pacino was reluctant to hit him properly as he didn't want to hurt him: “I said, 'Look at this face. What could you possibly do to it that wasn’t done by some guy in San Diego who had five rings on his hand.' He goes, 'OK.'... So the next take he grabs me by my hair so hard I almost started crying and he hauls off and whacks me across the face to where I could feel it in my toes.”
6. Danny Trejo was actually a real-life inmate at Folsom Prison
As part of the preparation for their roles, Mann had De Niro and other cast members visit some real-life criminals in Folsom Prison, California, where Johnny Cash famously recorded a live album. But that wasn't necessary for Danny Trejo, who had actually spent time as an inmate there some years earlier – his youth was spent in and out of various prisons until he completed a rehabilitation programme in the late 1960s, the last time he was behind bars. Trejo was initially brought in as an advisor, but Mann was reportedly so impressed he offered the actor a role in the film.
7. The film was based on a made-for-TV movie called L.A. Takedown...
Mann based the story on an unsuccessful pilot for a TV series which aired in 1989. In the TV version, Melrose Place's Scott Plank played the role of Hanna, while Neil McCauley (called Patrick McLaren in the TV version) was played by Alex McArthur, best-known for his role in Knots Landing.
8. ...and Xander Berkeley starred in both of them
Xander Berkeley is the only actor to star in both the film and the TV pilot; in the TV version he plays Waingro (played by Kevin Gage in the film), but in Heat he portrays Ralph, one of the film's more peripheral characters.
9. Neil McCauley and Waingro were both based on real-life criminals
One of the technical advisers on the film was an ex-cop named Chuck Adamson, who later became a screenwriter and film producer. Mann based the story, and several characters, on Adamson's career as a police officer in Chicago, including the relationship between the film's two main characters. McCauley had been a notorious bank robber in the city and Adamson was one of those trying to catch him in the act.
10. The scene in the restaurant – as well as the climactic shootout - were both based on real events
Years earlier, Adamson had a chance encounter with the real McCauley, bumping into him while picking up some dry cleaning. “I didn't know whether to arrest him, shoot him or invite him for coffee”, Adamson later recalled in the documentary The Making of Heat. He chose the latter option and the pair headed to a deli around the corner where, according to Adamson, they had the following conversation:
Adamson: “Why don’t you go somewhere else and cause trouble?”
McCauley: “I like Chicago.”
Adamson: “You realise that one day you're going to be taking down a score, and I'm going to be there.”
McCauley: “Well, look at the other side of the coin. I might have to eliminate you.”
Adamson: “I’m sure we’ll meet again.”
A year later, Adamson's prediction came true when he wound up shooting McCauley after he and his crew held up a supermarket and a firefight ensued in the car park outside.
11. Al Pacino ad-libbed one of the film's most memorable lines
During the scene in which Pacino's character is interrogating Alan Marciano, played by Hank Azaria, Pacino drops in the line: “She's got a great ass! And your head is all the way up it...”
The line wasn't in the script, and the look of stunned bemusement on Azaria's face is all too real.
12. In the original script, Lt. Vincent Hanna had a major cocaine habit
According to Pacino, the first draft of the script detailed his character's heavy cocaine use, something to which the actor ascribes Vincent's sudden, manic outbursts. However, in the end Mann felt that this didn't need to be directly referenced, although Pacino kept the idea in mind when working on his portrayal of the character.
13. The tow truck that appears in the opening heist scene is a tribute to Mann's children
During the opening scene a tow truck can be seen emblazoned with the word 'RAJA' – this isn't the name of a tow truck rental company, either real or imagined, but a shout-out to the director's daughters, 'using the initials of their first names. One of his daughters, Ami, also worked on the film as second unit director.
14. Some scenes from the film have been used to train Marines
In 2002, the scene featuring a firefight between the police and McCauley's gang was shown to Marines as an example of how to correctly retreat when under fire. Additionally, Val Kilmer was reportedly pleased to learn that the scene in which his ammunition runs out during a firefight was used as an example of how to quickly and correctly load a new magazine into a machine gun.
15. The film contains a tribute to one of Mann's favourite paintings
One of the scenes in the film is framed to mimic a painting by Alex Colville called Pacific, which features a man wistfully staring out of a window at the ocean while a gun rests on a table behind him – you can see the comparison in the image below...
16. The cast were prepared as if they were going to actually rob a bank
The preparations for the film were extremely thorough; all the actors playing both cops and criminals were given firearms training for three months on a police shooting range, but those playing criminals were told to go one step further, with Tom Sizemore and others tasked with planning an actual bank robbery, which included casing the joint without being noticed by security. One of the advisors helping train the actors was none other than British author and former SAS operative Andy McNabb.
Get your copy of Heat on DVD and Blu-ray here in our online store
You can also find the rest of the films on offer in our Decades season here