In an interview with Al Pacino on the DVD Special Edition, Pacino revealed that for the scene in the restaurant between Hanna and McCauley, Robert De Niro felt that the scene should not be rehearsed so that the unfamiliarity between the two characters would seem more genuine. Michael Mann agreed, and shot the scene with no practice rehearsals.
Much of the film is based off a real-life confrontation between Chicago cop Chuck Adamson and the real Neil McCauley. Adamson was a retired police officer whom director Michael Mann had been working with off and on since the film Thief (1981) starring James Caan (and based upon the career of famed Chicago burglar Frank Hohimer whom Adamson had arrested). They had later worked together on two shows produced by Mann: Miami Vice (1984) and Crime Story (1986). According to Chuck Adamson (and confirmed by Michael Mann) in the Heat-Special Edition DVD Documentary "Crime Stories", McCauley was a professional robber whom he had frequently crossed paths with. Events such as the scene between Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley in the coffee shop where they basically tell each other that the last time they meet will be their last, and the warehouse sting where McCauley got tipped off that the cops were around due to an officer making a noise really happened. In real life, Neil McCauley was killed during a robbery of a grocery store (similar to the bank heist shootout) by Adamson's team who were tipped off to the robbery.
The first film to ever feature both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino acting together, which created much hype prior to release. They both starred in The Godfather: Part II (1974) but never shared the screen together as split chronology prevented this. When this movie was finally released, even its advertising material promoted the film as a De Niro/Pacino "showdown."
The meeting between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino over coffee was shot at Kate Mantilini on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills. The L.A. mainstay is a noted top spot for a stylish late supper. The restaurant now has "heat" spelled in neon above the door and a large poster of the actors in the now famous scene. Diners may request the very table featured in the scene, table #71, which wait staff are familiar with as "The Table", and are happy to seat De Niro Pacino fans at their famous meeting place.
Bosco, at the party, tells a story of a grade school friend of his name Raoul. Michael Mann said that the story was completely ad-libbed by Ted Levine and that he had no idea how Levine came up with it.
Waingro tells the bartender he spent time at Folsom State Prison and then at the "Shu" (secure housing unit) at Pelican Bay. Pelican Bay State Prison is where California houses the most dangerous of its most dangerous prisoners, and the Shu is where the worst of all of them go.
Mykelti Williamson, in the Special DVD Edition of the movie, said in an interview that director Michael Mann arranged for cast members to meet with real life LAPD Detectives and professional criminals at an exclusive restaurant (the name of which Williamson refused to disclose) where LAPD detectives and criminals socialized. Cast members playing the detectives had dinner with the LAPD detectives and their wives one night, while the cast members playing the thieves had dinner with the real life criminals and their wives on a separate night. Williamson said that Mann arranged these events so the actors would have a better idea of how real detectives and criminals socialized and interacted with each other.
Amy Brenneman disliked the script and didn't want to be in the movie, saying it was too filled with blood with no morality. Michael Mann told her that with that mind-set she would be perfect for the role of Eady.
The manager of the Kate Mantilini restaurant in Beverly Hills said in the Heat special edition that even though the restaurant doesn't technically take reservations, people often call to try to reserve the table that Robert De Niro and Al Pacino sat at in the movie.
The scene where Vincent catches his wife cheating, removes the television set and later throws it from his car was lifted from a similar scene with Dennis Farina in Crime Story (1986), also produced by Michael Mann.
The two main characters used to be in the Marine Corps. Det Hanna is talked about during the briefing for McCauley's final robbery. McCauley is clearly seen with an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tat on his arm, when getting up from bed with Eady.
Jon Voight initially turned down the part of Nate, telling Michael Mann that there were several actors who could perform the part better. Mann told Voight that he wanted him for the role since he'd always wanted to work with him.
Michael Mann visited inmates in Folsom prison to gain some insight into prison life to aid his depiction of Neil. Mann later commented that Neil's collars were always perfectly starched, as they would have been in prison.
Kevin Gage's Waingro character is based on a real Chicago criminal named Waingro who ratted out some influential Chicago criminals. According to Michael Mann, Waingro went missing; his body was found in northern Mexico, where it had been nailed to the wall of a shed.
Dennis Farina, a former Chicago police officer, was a consultant on the film since the story was based on a Chicago police officer and criminal. Farina had previously played a Chicago cop in Michael Mann's television series Crime Story (1986).
For the restaurant sequence where McCauley and Hanna finally meet, Michael Mann ran two cameras simultaneously in order to generate a greater level of fluidity between both rivals. Since there were no rehearsals for the scene, this approach afforded both men a more generous margin for improvisational experimentation.
Although this is the second film on which Al Pacino and Robert De Niro have shared top billing, in The Godfather: Part II (1974), they didn't have a single scene together. In this movie, they only have two scenes together, for a total of less than 10 minutes.
When Michael Mann filmed the restaurant scene at Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills, he used the restaurant's actual employees as extras. Upon the last day of filming, he awarded them all with a SAG card. Today you can still sit in the table where Robert De Niro and Al Pacino sat, and the two are both regulars at the popular restaurant.
Many viewers claim that Robert De Niro and Al Pacino never (or hardly ever) actually share screen time during the film, despite the hype surrounding the films release as showcasing their first screen appearance. In most Pan and Scan versions of the film, and TV broadcasts, it does appear that during the "diner scene" the two never actually share the screen, but viewing the film in correct letterbox format, as the director Michael Mann intended, clearly shows the two actors sitting at the table, though only in wide shots.
Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) only smiles four times in the entire movie: once, when he sees Donald Breedan (Dennis Haysbert) in the diners' kitchen while working as a short order cook, once when he first meets Eady in the restaurant, at dinner with his "crew" and their respective ladies, and finally (briefly) as he is driving in the car with Eady on their way to the airport.
Composer Elliot Goldenthal wrote a piece of score to play over the final scene. Michael Mann replaced it with Moby's "God Moving Over the Face of the Water", so Goldenthal re-used the piece as the end titles for Michael Collins (1996) the following year, replacing the electric guitar with a fiddle to give it a more Irish sound. The original cue, called "Hand In Hand," can be heard at Goldenthal's website.
Vincent's sidearm is a Colt Officer's Model in .45 caliber with ivory grips - a likely reference to his service in the Marine Corps. Neil carries an HK USP chambered in .45 ACP early on in the movie, and then switches to a SIG Sauer P220 in the same caliber later on.
Lt. Hanna is shown "checking chamber" on his handgun in at least one scene. This is a trademark of the character Nick Stone in a series of novels by Andy McNab, who was technical weapons training adviser on Heat (1995). Although not an uncommon thing to do with a handgun, it is rarely given such visual prominence in films. Also, the crew's tactics in the bank robbery shootout are notably similar to the "response to enemy fire" tactics featured in the book and film of McNab's Bravo Two Zero (1999).
When Nate tells Neil about his new "out", he describes it as an airplane bearing the registration number N1011S. According to the FAA registry database, the registration was taken in 2000, five years after the movie was released, and is now a 1964 Cessna 310, a two-engine light propeller-driven airplane.
In the fire fight scene after the bank robbery, Chris crouches at the rear of a car in order to change a magazine. The registration plate of this car reads '2LUP382' 'LUP' in British Army terminology is 'Lying Up Position'. 2LUP would reflect that this was the second Lying Up Position for Chris - his first being behind a green car.
One of the only scenes in the movie in which Neil Mccauley (Robert De Niro) smiles is when he sees Donald Breedan (Dennis Haysbert) in the diners' kitchen while working as a short order cook. He also smiles when Nate (Jon Voight) tells him in the car that Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) thinks he's "sharp." He might also be smiling as he watches Hanna's antics as he photographs them in the container yard, and again as he walks towards the car to Eady after wasting Waingro (Kevin Gage). He also smiles briefly toward the end of his conversation with Vincent in the diner.
In the UK, the film was given a '15' rating for both its cinema and video release and passed uncut in both instances. It was re-released in 2000 with a new 'Underground Epics' video cover, bearing an '18' certificate. However, this was not a different version of the film - the content was the same as the '15' version. The '18' certificate was a mistake, and the video cover was withdrawn.
[time is luck]
The catchphrase 'Time is Luck' is used by McCauley when talking to Eady about their relationship and having time for them. (It is also used in Manhunter (1986) when Molly talks to her husband, Will Graham, and Miami Vice (2006), when Isabella is talking to Sonny about their relationship.)
disowned the TV version aired by NBC. Mann offered to restore seventeen of the cut minutes, NBC decided to instead cut 40 minutes of the film out in order to fit a 3-hour TV time-slot - Mann said, "You can call it a Michael Smithee or an Alan Mann movie."
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The current residents of the apartment where Danny Trejo's death scene were filmed got curious after seeing the film and pulled up the carpet in the room Trejo was shot. To their surprise, they saw that residue of the theatrical blood still remained.
McCauley's 30 second rule in action: When McCauley comes out of the hotel to drive off with Eady, it takes 42 seconds from the time he first sees Lt. Hanna to when he turns and runs. It takes McCauley 12 seconds to assess the situation (sees Lt. Hanna to when he starts to back away from Eady) and then 30 seconds to actually leave Eady behind.
In the trailer, McCauley tells the shade tree doctor "I'm double the worst trouble you've ever seen." A deleted scene explains this: the doctor had approached Neil and wanted $30,000 instead of the usual $15,000, saying Neil and Chris were wanted criminals and a high risk factor. Neil then explains to the doctor that if Chris died from his injuries, he would hunt down the doctor and kill him.
Moby's two contributions to the soundtrack were originally meant to be reversed, his cover of Joy Division's "New Dawn Fades" was supposed to play over the closing credits and "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" while Hanna pursues McCauley on the freeway. However, director Michael Mann felt "God Moving" was such a cathartic piece of music, it was more suited to strike up during McCauley's death scene, ending the movie.
The only thief to not get away from the bank heist is carrying a different model rifle than the others, an Israeli Galil. In the armored car robbery he is carrying a Belgian FN FAL, both weapons chambered in 7.62 NATO (.308) thus far more powerful than his comrades' guns.