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Heat Up: Michael Mann to Write Heat 2 Sequel and Prequel

Decades after the release of Michael Mann Heatthe classic crime thriller has endured in the minds of fans, critics, peers and the director himself.

He had so much left to say.

“There’s always a feeling of being wronged,” Mann said in a Zoom interview from his apartment in Modena, Italy, where he currently works on Ferrari, with Adam Driver as the racing mogul. race. “I love researching and building these characters very, very completely, and grounding the actor in a whole life. … The movie is a shard, it’s just a very narrow slice of a full life.

Michael Mann has finally completed the story of his 1995 film. It brought back the murderous and calculating criminal Neil McCauley, played by Robert De Niro; swaggering detective Vincent Hanna, played by Al Pacino; and supporting characters such as Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore), and Nate (Jon Voight).

He hopes to make another Heat movie, but he’s chosen to present his new narrative in words only, the novel Heat 2.

Written with award-winning crime novelist Meg Gardiner and slated for release August 9, the 480-page Heat 2 is a sequel and prequel, returning to the late 1980s and the 21st century, expanding the world of McCauley and Hanna and Shiherlis among others, adding new characters and moving the action everywhere from Los Angeles to Paraguay and Asia.

Michael Mann had never attempted a novel before and finally tried partly for a similar reason he takes on any given film: to see if he can. In some ways he approached the book as if he were planning a film production. He started with a basic story – he likes to know in advance how the plot unfolds – and built the narrative outward, in time and space. For his novel, he talks about creating “an almost cinematic momentum,” a symphony leading to a final showdown.

Heat 2 allowed him to explore and digress in ways he wouldn’t have attempted on screen. He wants to know the inner and outer life of each person. McCauley, for example, whom he regards as a longtime outsider, institutionalized in his early teens. He sees him as “very smart”, with “a very strong ego and very low self-esteem”. An ideal criminal.

(Photo: HarperCollins via AP)

“He goes violent, immediately, from zero to 60,” Mann says.

Heat, among the most famous films to never receive an Oscar nomination, has an obsessive fan base. After a special screening in June at the Tribeca Film Festival, audiences shouted out lines from the film during a panel discussion with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Mann says fans often come up to him and cite the famous cafe conversation between McCauley and Hanna, the first time Pacino and De Niro shared screen time (they had previously appeared in separate periods in The Godfather, Part II).

Heat 2 is a departure for Michael Mann, and novels of recent years by other filmmakers, including Werner Herzog, Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg. While Herzog and De Palma’s The Twilight World are necessary snakes? are original stories, Mann operates a kind of inversion, taking characters created for the screen and adapting them to the page. Instead of finding distraction thinking of Pacino when portraying Hanna, he welcomes the fusion of actor and character.

“They are merged. It’s a merger. They are one,” he says. “Vincent Hanna is Al Pacino and Al Pacino is Vincent Hanna. Neil McCauley in 1988 is Bobby (De Niro) seven years his junior. … Ever since I made the movie and researched Al Pacino and De Niro and Val Kilmer, you bet that’s who these people are.

Gardiner joined Mann at the suggestion of their joint literary agent, Shane Salerno. Known for her Evan Delaney novels, she is a fan of Heat and a supporter of Mann’s film in the many discussions she has had with other writers about whether Goodfellas, The Godfather or Heat is their favorite crime film. . For Heat 2, she helped Mann with the structure of the book and otherwise proved a sounding board and close collaborator, with the two eventually writing alternate chapters. Their time together — she lives in Austin, Texas, he’s based in Los Angeles — in some ways mirrored the belated confrontation between Pacino and De Niro, who, despite being co-stars, only meet at the middle of the 170 minute photo.

“We started working together in the depths of Covid,” she says. “We haven’t had the opportunity to meet for a year. It was just long phone calls and long emails.

Michael Mann, 79, has worked in film and television since the 1970s, whether he’s writing episodes for Starsky and Hutch, executive producing Miami Vice or directing The Insider, Manhunter and Public Enemies. He’s a Chicago native who says his worldview — “a certain kind of cynical worldview, I guess” — was shaped by his experiences as the son of inner-city grocers. Citing The French Connection and its director, William Friedkin, as favorites, he jokes that filmmakers like him and Friedkin who grew up in Chicago itself end up making crime stories, while those from the suburbs (like the late John Hughes ) prefer comedies.

Heat 2 is the first of three planned novels (one of which may tie into Heat), and an ambitious literary debut for a man who had never attempted a work of fiction before. He majored in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, intending to become a teacher, but decided it would be “really extremely boring”. Asked to cite literary influences, he mentions John le Carré, but says otherwise that he does not read mystery novels. Instead, he turns to “primary sources,” the various killers, con artists, law enforcement and government agents he met and befriended and whose stories he adapted for Heat, Thief and other movies.

Critics and fellow directors have praised him for his complex storytelling and his gifts for pacing and atmosphere: Christopher Nolan has cited Heat as the inspiration for his acclaimed Batman film The Dark Knight. But some of Mann’s favorite comments come from these “primary sources.” He smiles when asked what some of his characters’ real-life models have said when they see his films.

“I was offered alternative careers,” he says.