Rather than dubbing in the gunshots during the bank robbery shoot-out, Michael Mann had microphones carefully placed around the set so that the audio could be captured live. This added to the impact of the scene, because it sounded like no other gunfight shown on-screen.
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.
The first film to feature 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 the split chronology prevented this. When this movie was finally released, even its advertising material promoted the film as a De Niro and Pacino "showdown".
Waingro (Kevin Gage) 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.
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.
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.
The meeting between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino over coffee was shot at Kate Mantilini on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The Los Angeles mainstay was a noted top spot for a stylish late supper. The restaurant had "heat" spelled in neon above the door and a large poster of the actors in the now famous scene. Diners could request the very table featured in the scene, table #71, which wait staff were familiar with as "The Table", and were happy to seat De Niro and Pacino fans at their famous meeting place. The restaurant closed in late 2014.
Michael Mann visited inmates in Folsom prison to gain some insight into prison life, to aid his depiction of Neil (Robert De Niro). Mann later commented that Neil's collars were always perfectly starched, as they would have been in prison.
Val Kilmer was thrilled to learn that the moment in the gunbattle scene where he runs out of bullets, and rapidly changes his magazine, is regularly shown to Marine recruits as an example of how to perform the action properly.
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.
The two main characters used to be in the Marine Corps. Detective Hanna (Al Pacino) is talked about during the briefing for McCauley's (Robert De Niro's) final robbery. McCauley is clearly seen with an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tat on his arm, when getting up from bed with Eady (Amy Brenneman).
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.
Waingro tells the bartender he spent time at Folsom State Prison and then at the "SHU" (Special Handling Unit) at Pelican Bay. Pelican Bay State Prison is where California houses the most dangerous of its most dangerous prisoners, and the S.H.U. is solitary confinement.
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).
Many viewers claim that Robert De Niro and Al Pacino never (or hardly ever) actually share screentime during the film, despite the hype surrounding the film's release, as showcasing their first screen appearance. In most pan-and-scan versions of the film, and television 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 Michael Mann intended, clearly shows the two actors sitting at the table, though only in wide shots.
Mykelti Williamson, in the Special Edition DVD of the movie, said in an interview that 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 and actresses would have a better idea of how real detectives and criminals socialized and interacted with each other.
Bosko, at the party, tells a story of a grade school friend of his named 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.
In a Japanese television interview in 1995, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino got asked "which role-play, police or robber, did you do when a boyhood?" De Niro replied, "Police", Pacino did "Police doing robbery".
The explicit nature of several of the film's scenes was cited as the model of a spate of robberies since its release. This included armored car robberies in South Africa, Colombia, Denmark, Norway, and most famously, the 1997 North Hollywood shoot-out, in which Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu robbed the North Hollywood branch of the Bank of America and, similarly to the film, were confronted by the LAPD as they left the bank. This shoot-out is considered one of the longest and bloodiest events of its type in American police history. Both robbers were killed, and eleven police officers and seven bystanders were injured during the shoot-out. This movie was widely referenced during the coverage of the shoot-out.
Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) only smiles five times in the entire movie. Once, when he sees Donald Breedan (Dennis Haysbert) in the diner's 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; once when he snaps pictures of Hanna; once (briefly) as he is driving in the car with Eady on their way to the airport. And one last time when he walks from the hotel towards the car with Eady waiting in it.
Before Danny Trejo was hired to play the role of "Trejo" in this movie, he and Edward Bunker, a writer, were hired to be armed robbery consultants, since they both did time for these crimes, and knew the ins-and-outs of performing such crimes. When Michael Mann spotted Danny, Mann introduced him to Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, and Jon Voight, where they discussed the cops-and-robbers shtick. After the meeting, Trejo would earn this role.
The drive-in sequence was shot at the Centinela Drive-in in Inglewood, California, which had been closed since 1993. The theater was demolished in 1998, and the site is now occupied by an apartment complex.
During a February 2016 discussion at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, Michael Mann revealed the locations of the real-life inspiration for the famous "coffee scene" between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Chicago detective Chuck Adamson ran into the real-life Neil McCauley while picking up dry cleaning on Lincoln Avenue and Belden Avenue in Chicago. The two went to the now-closed Belden Deli at 2301 N. Clark Street in Chicago, a few blocks away. The diner was knocked down, and reconstructed in the 1990s, and is now the location of the Eleven City Diner.
Vincent's sidearm is a Colt Officer's Model .45 caliber with ivory grips, a likely reference to his service in the Marine Corps. Neil carries an HK USP 9mm early on in the movie, and then switches to a SIG Sauer P220 .45 caliber later on.
Al Pacino revealed in Argentina when he performed An Evening With Al Pacino at the Teatro Colón, that when they had to rehearse the last scene, Robert De Niro told him: "No words". He still thinks that that was the right call.
The manager of the Kate Mantilini restaurant in Beverly Hills said in the Heat Special Edition DVD 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.
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.
Lieutenant Hanna is shown "checking the 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).
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 scene together. In this movie, they only have two scenes together, for a total of less than ten minutes.
The date of birth given for Vincent Hanna's applications, reviewed by Neil and Nate, is 7/15/1953. Al Pacino was born in 1940. In the same application, the profession is listed as Salesperson. Neil identifies his profession to Eady as Salesman.
During the famous bank robbery gunfight, Mann directed the actors portraying the police to aim deliberately and only fire their rifles in the semi-automatic mode. This showed that the police were taking care not to hit bystanders. By contrast the robbers - concerned only with their own safety - fire their weapons on full automatic, striking several bystanders in the process.
The armored car robbery in earlier scripts is a bit different. Its street location is much different, and the escape is a lot tighter, as the crew actually rams several police cars while they're escaping after shooting the three guards.
According to Danny Trejo, Val Kilmer (who was still filming Batman Forever (1995) at the time) told him on set that he had just refused an offer of $40 million to reprise his Batman role in another film, because he did not want to waste his talent wearing a mask. Trejo was very amused by this, because Kilmer's role in Heat also required him to wear a mask during the robbery scenes.
This movie featured two actors who each played serial killers in movies based on Thomas Harris novels. Manhunter (1986), based on Harris' novel Red Dragon, featured Tom Noonan as the serial killer Francis "The Tooth Fairy" Dolarhyde. The Silence of the Lambs (1991), based on the Harris novel of the same name, featured Ted Levine as the serial killer Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb. Coincidentially, Michael Mann is also the director of Manhunter, and Dennis Farina, who consulted this movie, played Jack Crawford in Manhunter.
In 2007, the scene involving the shoot-out after the bank robbery was shown to British Army Officer Cadets at RMA Sandhurst as an example of effective fire and manoeuvre, and the proper way to retreat while under fire.
When Sergeant Drucker (Mykelti Williamson) says to Charlene (Ashley Judd) her son could end up at "gladiator academies", like Chino and Tracy, his referring to Deuel Vocational Institution state prison in Tracy, California. The California Institution for Men is commonly known as "Chino", and is a state prison located in the city of Chino, San Bernardino County, California. "Gladiator academies", is slang for prisons or correction facilities.
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.
In the original script, the gunman at the drive-in was still alive after being shot at and run over. Neil executes the shooter a few moments after approaching and talking to him. In the final film, the shooter appears to be dead, since this scene is absent.
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.
The camera used by both Neil and Casals in the "We just got made" scene is a Nikon F4, at the time Nikon's flagship 35mm SLR. Casal's has the Nikon logo blacked out. Neil's does not. They use different lenses.
In the original script, the burglary-cop Harry Dieter was questioned and threatened by Vincent Hanna because he was given a tip by C.I. Hugh Benny. After Hanna and Bosko leave, Dieter is left with a booking officer. This would have taking place just before Hanna and Bosko (now Hanna and Casals) breaching Hugh Benny's flat. But this scene is absent in the final movie.
Jon Voight's first film to get a wide theatrical release since Runaway Train (1985). Desert Bloom (1986) had been given a limited release, and his other projects in the interim were made for television or went direct to video. The film began a resurgence of high-profile roles for the Oscar winner, culminating in his fourth Oscar nomination for Ali (2001), also directed by Michael Mann.
Released a month after Casino (1995), also starring Robert De Niro. Surprisingly, both movies are almost three hours long, and take place in different states, making it interesting that Robert De Niro would have time to make both movies released so closely.
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.
In this movie and True Lies (1994), Max Daniels plays a thug wielding a Steyr TMP who is shot, and wildly fires his gun into the air as he goes down. Here, it happens before Shiherlis shoots him in the back, as he is unable to get steady footing.
For the sequence where Neil (Robert De Niro) and Eady (Amy Brenneman) discuss a possible future together on a terrace at night, Michael Mann and his DP Dante Spinotti wanted to capture the background 'nightscape' with some degree of prominence in the shot. The actors were first filmed in front of a small green screen, and the background was then filmed separately with the camera running at 3fps in order to boost the exposure level to better complement the foreground activity.
A poster of Miles Davis is featured in the background during a scene with Al Pacino. A live performance of a song from a Miles Davis record called "Bitches Brew" was featured in another film by director Michael Mann, called Collateral, in which a recollection of an encounter with Miles Davis is written into the dialogue.
Michael Mann: He disowned the television version aired by NBC. Mann offered to restore seventeen of the cut minutes, NBC decided to instead cut forty minutes of the film out, in order to fit a three-hour television 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 was 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 thirty 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 Lieutenant Hanna, to when he turns and runs. It takes McCauley twelve seconds to assess the situation (sees Lieutenant Hanna, to when he starts to back away from Eady) and then thirty seconds to actually leave Eady behind.
Much of the film is based on a real-life confrontation between Chicago cop Chuck Adamson and the real Neil McCauley. Adamson was a retired police officer, whom 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, with whom he had frequently crossed paths. Events, such as the scene between Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley in the coffee shop, where they basically tell each other that the next 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 shoot-out) by Adamson's team, who were tipped off to the robbery.
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.
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 thirty thousand dollars, instead of the usual fifteen thousand dollars, saying Neil and Chris were wanted criminals, and high-risk factors. Neil then explains to the doctor, that if Chris died from his injuries, he would hunt down the doctor and kill him.
An ending discussed featured Neil and Vincent shooting and killing each other, instead of Vincent shooting Neil. Michael Mann didn't like the idea, and therefore was not filmed. This ending was later used in Insomnia (2002), also starring Al Pacino, whose character and Robin Williams's character shoot each other in the final fight.
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, 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 shooting at the drive-in movie theater differs in one way between the movie and script drafts: in the drafts, Neil's reflexes cause him to spot the assassin creeping up to the shotgun side window and react accordingly in the nick of time. In this version, Shiherlis is not stationed on the roof of the projection building, but is instead stationed with Cheritto by the exit gate to shoot the driver. The assassin would also beg Neil to kill him afterwards.
Hanna's team of detectives and McCauley's crew are mirror images of each other right to the end: The only detective to die, is Hanna's number two man, Bosko (Ted Levine). The only member of the crew who survives, is McCauley's number two man, Chris (Val Kilmer).
Bosko (Ted Levine) is the detective that is killed during the bank robbery shoot-out. Originally, this would have gone to Schwartz (Jerry Trimble), who is shot in the shoulder by Cheritto (Tom Sizemore).
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 caliber) thus, far more powerful than his comrades' guns.
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 diner's 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 killing Waingro (Kevin Gage). He also smiles briefly toward the end of his conversation with Vincent in the diner.
In his book "Modern Romance", Aziz Ansari recounted a dating story when he was living in a rented house in Los Angeles. The house is the same one, in which Trejo (Danny Trejo) lives, in this movie, shown in detail when Neil McCauley goes to the house thinking Trejo may have informed on him, but finds that Trejo's girlfriend was raped and murdered, and Trejo was shot and left paralyzed. Knowing Trejo was loyal to him and seeing his compatriot beg him to not leave him like this, Neil mercy kills Trejo.