Michael Mann greeted guests via video at a retrospective screening of Heat, saying he’d tested positive for Covid so had to stay away. Producer Art Linson and stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro took the stage at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights without the writer/director of the iconic crime drama.
But not without a few words: “I’m incredibly disappointed not to be with all of you this evening,” Mann said in a recorded message. “At the Broadway Deli in 1994, I told Art, let’s produce my screenplay and find a director, because maybe I wouldn’t direct it. He told me I was crazy — so this is all his fault,” he joked. “I tested positive for Covid two days ago. I am feeling great and will be out of isolation in a few days. I was so anticipating sitting with good friends, family and fans of the film to experience watching the 4k ultra high-def restoration of Heat.”
Mann is quarantining in Italy where he’s working on his next film, the biopic Ferrari with Adam Driver.
Making an appearance in NYC, however, were early copies of ‘Heat 2,’ the novel Mann wrote with Edgar-winning scribe Meg Gardiner that’s coming out in August. The book is billed as both a sequel and prequel to the events in Heat, where Pacino plays obsessive police Lieutenant Vincent Hanna tracking down De Niro’s master criminal Neil McCauley and his gang. It’s the debut of Mann as a novelist and of Michael Mann Books in a deal with HarperCollins imprint William Morrow.
“It’s been my intention for a long time to do the further stories of Heat,” Mann told Deadline in a story early this year. “There was always a rich history or back-story about the events in these people’s lives before 1995 in Heat and projection of where their lives would take them after.” Reps for the publisher had a table piled high and were handing guests advance copies at the screening Friday night, part of the Tribeca Festival’s retrospective series. De Niro is Tribeca’s co-founder with Jane Rosenthal.
Heat 2 starts just after the events of the film concludes. The first movie was so successful that it’s not hard to imagine a second. Asked whom among younger thesps he’d cast in his role of Vincent Hanna, he quickly said, “Timothée Chalamet… He’s a wonderful actor.”
During the Q&A, Linson noted that Mann didn’t lack the confidence to direct “but it was hard to get movies made… and he thought maybe another director could get it done. But he got these two geniuses,” he said, gesturing to Pacino and De Niro, and the rest is history. The screenplay, “If you read it, it kind of sounds like Bob and sounds like Al. It was almost designed for actors of this extraordinary level to do and they lifted the whole thing up.”
The Warner Bros. film was the first time De Niro and Pacino appeared on screen together.
Linson said Mann fought riskily to stick to his vision of gritty realism. “Michael endured a lot of anger [from studio executives] because of how dedicated he was to getting it right… You’re not welcome after that unless a movie works, and that one did.”
“There was a scene where we were shooting in the Hollywood Hills with William Fichtner where Bob threw a chair through a glass window, and that night the studio came down to visit the set to basically say, ‘Go faster.’ Michael said, ‘Hey, if you keep me here any longer, it is going to go even slower.’”
The film also featured Val Kilmer, Natalie Portman, Danny Treho, Ashley Judd, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora and Amy Brenneman.