Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Michael Mann were all on hand last night in L.A. for a chat facilitated by Christopher Nolan.
Consult any list of top "guy" movies and Heat is certain to enjoy lofty placement. Its slow-burning blend of hard-boiled crime and psychological intrigue divides audiences' sympathies and attention, as two singularly focused men bond over the very thing that puts them at odds.
Michael Mann, Robert De Niro, and what at first appeared to be a wax statue of Al Pacino that turned out to be Al Pacino reunited on Wednesday night in Beverly Hills to screen a 4K restoration of arguably the last best film for all three. They even stayed up past their bedtimes to field questions about the 1995 production from Oscar-nominated director Christopher Nolan, with some surprising disclosures.
Pacino's character was on coke the whole time.
The 76-year-old actor kicked off the panel discussion with the revelation that his character, Det. Vincent Hanna, "chips cocaine" throughout the film, though it's never portrayed on screen.
"There is a scene where it goes by really quick, which never got into the film, and I've always wanted to say it, just so you know where some of the behavior's coming from," he said to a laughing and all too understanding crowd.
De Niro, Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore staked out a real bank to rob.
Recounting the maniacal detail that went into crafting the film, Mann revealed that he sent his movie robbers to plan a real bank robbery.
"They actually had another guy in the role, but Michael and Al got together, paid that guy off, and hired me."
"We trained for months … the shootout, but also going into a bank, like we did in Century City. And without anybody except the security officers in the bank knowing that Val and Sizemore and Bob were going into the bank to scope out where the cameras were. And they were supposed to come out of the bank and give us a detailed plan about how to rob this bank," the director said, joking, "We ran short of the budget and had other ways to finance the picture."
Mykelti Williamson landed his role because of an Oscar snub for Forrest Gump.
It wasn't a little bit ironic that the screening and Q&A for Heat were held at the Motion Picture Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater, since the film wasn't nominated for a single Oscar. Count Williamson's 1994 role as Bubba in Forrest Gump, and that's two snubs in as many years.
But according to him, he wouldn't have gotten the part in Heat otherwise. "The story I got from Al is, 'You got robbed. You didn't get a nomination for Forrest Gump,' and they actually had another guy in the role, and Michael and Al got together, paid that guy off, and hired me."
De Niro and Pacino's diner scene was mostly one take.
The first appearance of the two legendary actors together in the movie—and in any movie—comes well into the film, when Pacino's Hanna pulls over De Niro's Neil McCauley on the freeway and invites him to coffee. The ensuing bit of movie magic, which wasn't rehearsed, made work easy for the editors.
"Most of the scene is all take [number] 11," Mann said.
Pacino really doesn't know his cars.
While recalling his character's psychology, the actor said Mann "put me in this car … [to Mann] what kind of car was it, a Porsche?" he asked.
"No," Mann replied, "a Ford Fairlane."
Again, the man had just finished watching a 4K cut of the movie.
Mann almost didn't direct the movie.
When Nolan asked him about the genesis of the film, Mann explained that he and producer Art Linson said, "We were working actually on something else, which wasn't working out, and Michael had this script [for Heat]," which Linson read and told the director they should pursue instead.
"I was considering not directing. And I think [Linson] said to me, 'You're out of your mind,'" to which Linson replied, "Particularly compared to the other thing we were working on."