20 facts you might not know about 'Heat'
Warner Bros.

20 facts you might not know about 'Heat'

Al Pacino. Robert De Niro. They are two of the biggest actors of all time. They’ve both won Oscars. We’ve seen them in a few movies together now – including “The Irishman” – but for many years they had never shared the screen together. Not even in “The Godfather Part II.” Then, “Heat” happened. We’ve got 20 more facts for you based on this epic crime film.

 
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“Heat” was almost a TV show

“Heat” was almost a TV show
Warner Bros.

Michael Mann originally wrote “Heat” way back in 1979, before he even made his debut film “Thief.” Eventually, Mann was offered a chance to create a new show in the wake of “Miami Vice.” He turned “Heat” into a pilot for a show called “L.A. Takedown.” However, the show did not go to series with only the pilot airing as a television movie.

 
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Mann returned to the project in 1994

Mann returned to the project in 1994
Warner Bros.

After “L.A. Takedown” didn’t work out, Mann went back to films. In 1994, he was working on a potential biopic of James Dean. However, he decided to abandon that project to instead bring “Heat” out of the mothballs and try it as a movie.

 
3 of 20

The movie was based on a true story

The movie was based on a true story
Warner Bros.

“Heat” is influenced by real life. The character of Vincent Hanna is based on Chuck Adamson, a Chicago-based police officer. Adamson spent a significant chunk of his career trying to track down criminal Neil McCauley. In the script for “Heat,” Mann didn’t hide that, as De Niro’s character is just straight-up named Neil McCauley.

 
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De Niro was on board first

De Niro was on board first
Warner Bros.

De Niro saw the script before anybody else, and he was quick to sign on. This obviously helped the movie get traction. It’s also De Niro who brought the script to Pacino, who then signed on himself.

 
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Two musicians are in the cast

Two musicians are in the cast
TriStar

“Heat” has a truly killer ensemble. In addition to De Niro and Pacino, the movie includes Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Jon Voight, Natalie Portman, and more. It also features a couple of smaller roles for two musicians who have both gotten into acting: Henry Rollins and Tone Loc.

 
6 of 20

One “L.A. Takedown” cast member is in the film

One “L.A. Takedown” cast member is in the film
Warner Bros.

In the “L.A. Takedown” television movie, the Hanna role is played by Scott Plank and Alex McArthur is in the McCauley role. Additionally, Xander Berkeley played the dangerous, murderous Waingro. Plant and McArthur don’t show up in “Heat,” but Berkeley has a small role as “Ralph.”

 
7 of 20

Voight’s character is based on a real criminal turned actor

Voight’s character is based on a real criminal turned actor
Warner Bros.

Eddie Bunker was a criminal throughout his teens and early adult life, but he eventually left that world behind. He became a screenwriter and an actor. He plays Mr. Blue in “Reservoir Dogs,” for example. Bunker served as a consultant on “Heat,” and Voight’s character of Nate is based on Bunker.

 
8 of 20

Bunker isn’t the only former criminal involved in the movie

Bunker isn’t the only former criminal involved in the movie
Columbia, Sony

Danny Trejo has been in a ton of movies and TV shows. The man loves to work, and no project seems too silly or mediocre for him. Perhaps he appreciates the work because he too came from a bleak life of crime. Trejo was also a criminal in his youth and spent time in prison before getting out, getting sober, and getting into acting.

 
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Some of the cast did their research

Some of the cast did their research
Warner Bros.

Mann is one of the foremost makers of crime films of all time, and he puts a lot of effort into it. Before shooting “Heat,” Mann took De Niro, Kilmer, and Tom Sizemore to Folsom State Prison to talk to actual career criminals to influence their performances.

 
10 of 20

The cast also did a lot of weapons training

The cast also did a lot of weapons training
Warner Bros.

The centerpiece of “Heat” is the bank robbery and the shootout that ensues. That shootout had a lot of effort put into it. A former member of British special forces was brought on to advise. He actually spent three months training them on weapon usage, and they even used live rounds during training. For the actual movie, they used blanks, of course.

 
11 of 20

No sets were built for the movie

No sets were built for the movie
Warner Bros.

None of “Heat” was shot on a soundstage. The entire 107 days of shooting were done on location. This caused problems at times. In particular shooting at LAX proved difficult, as while they intended to shoot there the airport was dealing with a bomb threat from the Unabomber.

 
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Pacino made a particular choice for his performance

Pacino made a particular choice for his performance
Warner Bros.

By 1995, Pacino had kind of delved into self-parody already. His performances were not subtle, and “Heat’ is no different. In this case, though, it made sense. In 2016, Pacino said that he imagined that his character was on cocaine the entire time. This isn’t in the script per se, but it’s what Pacino decided to do with his character.

 
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Christopher Nolan is a big fan

Christopher Nolan is a big fan
Legendary

Nolan is a fan of “Heat.” He even modeled aspects of “The Dark Knight” on Mann’s film. On top of that, Nolan once moderated a Q&A about the movie with Mann and some of the cast as well.

 
14 of 20

There might be a “Heat” book

There might be a “Heat” book
Warner Bros.

Mann has said that he’s been working on a prequel for “Heat” in book form. In 2019 he said the book was finished, but so far the novel has not been released. Perhaps eventually it will come out. Mann has also said he’s considered directing a sequel film to “Heat” too.

 
15 of 20

There are rumors about the Pacino and De Niro scene

There are rumors about the Pacino and De Niro scene
Warner Bros.

The diner scene in “Heat” was the first time Pacino and De Niro ever shared the screen together. This was a huge selling point for the film, as these were two of the biggest actors in the world. This has led to some rumors about the scene. Many will say that they contractually mandated that they got the same number of lines or words in their scene together. However, there is no proof anything along those lines was agreed to.

 
16 of 20

Ted Levine turned down a role

Ted Levine turned down a role
MGM

Ted Levine is in “Heat” as Bosko, but it wasn’t the first role he was offered. Mann had him in mind for Waingro, but Levine declined out of fear of being typecast. Given that Levine’s best-known role is Buffalo Bill in “Silence of the Lambs,” that was likely a wise decision.

 
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Kilmer had a big 1995

Kilmer had a big 1995
Warner Bros.

Kilmer has a key role in “Heat,” but it wasn’t his biggest role in 1995. That year, he also starred as the Caped Crusader in “Batman Forever.” In fact, Kilmer was filming both movies simultaneously for a bit.

 
18 of 20

Portman was early in her career

Portman was early in her career
Warner Bros.

You can’t call “Heat” Portman’s breakout film, given that in 1994 she was in “Leon: The Professional.” That being said, “Heat” was only Portman’s second movie. That’s quite the impressive first two films. Also, quite the violent first two films.

 
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Mann went all out in capturing the gunfight

Mann went all out in capturing the gunfight
Warner Bros.

Most of the time, gun sounds would be added to a film in post-production. This makes particular sense, given that you might not want an actual film set to be that loud and chaotic. Mann did not take this route with “Heat,” though. Instead, during the big gunfight showdown, Mann played microphones all over the shooting location to capture the noise from the guns live.

 
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The Marines are fans of “Heat”

The Marines are fans of “Heat”
Warner Bros.

Mann’s verisimilitude paid off critically and commercially with “Heat,” but it also impressed some experts. In fact, the Marines have shown recruits the shootout scenes as part of their training. It apparently is an accurate representation of both the right way to retreat under fire and the proper way to quickly change a gun’s magazine.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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