EXCLUSIVE: Michael Mann is ready to rip on Heat 2, a novel he has written with Edgar-winner Meg Gardiner that expands the tapestry of his 1995 crime classic film. The surprise here: the novel coming August 9 from William Morrow through the HarperCollins-based Michael Mann Books imprint will tell an original story about the lives of the characters in that movie both before and after the events depicted in the movie. (Watch the book’s trailer, accompanied by Moby’s ‘God Moving Over the Face of the Water,’ the famed final music that plays at the film’s end).
To those like myself who’ve watched the atmospheric Los Angeles-based heist thriller dozens of times, the prospect of its creator revisiting the terrain and characters is something to look forward to. To remind, the meticulously plotted mano a mano matchup between LAPD Homicide/Robbery lieutenant Vincent Hanna and master thief Neil McCauley became a seminal entry in the crime film canon. The film teamed for the first time Al Pacino and Robert De Niro at the peak of their careers, and personalized the lives of characters on both sides of the law. Mann held back on the interaction between Pacino and De Niro (they appeared in Godfather Part II but in different eras) until the famous coffee shop scene filmed at the now-closed Wilshire Boulevard eatery Kate Mantilini, that created an understanding between them and framed the inevitable showdown after a bank heist goes awry. Heat remains one of Warner Brothers top rentals, some 27 years after the film was released.
“It’s been my intention for a long time to do the further stories of Heat,” Mann told Deadline. “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.”
The book represents the first novel from Michael Mann Books — which signed a multi-million dollar deal with HarperCollins imprint William Morrow — and it marks Mann’s debut as a novelist. The cat and mouse game between Hanna and McCauley was informed by real life ex-cop Chuck Adamson and his obsessive pursuit of the real Neil McCauley, a wily ex-con from Chicago who lived to take down big scores. Many of the events depicted in the film actually happened.
The novel Heat 2 starts one day after the events of the film, with a wounded Chris Shiherlis [played by Val Kilmer in Heat] desperate to escape LA. The story moves to both the six years preceding the heist and the years immediately following it, featuring new characters and new worlds of high-end professional crime, with highly cinematic action sequences. The venues range from the streets of L.A. to the inner sanctums of rival Taiwanese crime syndicates in a South American free trade zone, to a massive drug cartel money-laundering operation just over the border in Mexico, and eventually to Southeast Asia. Heat 2 explores the dangerous workings of international criminal organizations with full-blooded portraits of its male and female inhabitants.
A key is a deep dive into the life of Hanna, six years earlier, in Chicago and signature cases that honed his skills. It includes the failing of his earlier marriage, the effects of his Marine Corp service in Vietnam and conflicts within the Chicago PD where he discovers his life’s calling – the pursuit of armed and dangerous felons into the dark and wild places that would doom his marriage in Heat. In Chicago, that included the hunt for a particularly vicious crime crew.
The book also covers the lives –six years before the bank heist — of master thieves McCauley and Shiherlis, whose character becomes central in the post-1995 world of Heat, as well as Charlene (Ashley Judd), Nate (Jon Voight), Trejo (Danny Trejo) and the wheelchair-bound Kelso (Tom Noonan), who provided the bank alarm schematics to McCauley in the film.
“The bank job was not the first time Kelso worked with McCauley, and not the last time he will work with Chris,” Mann revealed.
“When I was writing the film, it was imperative for me to create complete life stories about all the characters and to know everything about them,” Mann said, “including Neil McCauley’s early institutionalized years when he lost track of his brother, before he parachuted into the streets, young, angry and dangerous. And, the novel shows a McCauley very much attached and the dramatic events that resulted in his dictum that “if you’re making moves on the street, have no attachments, allow nothing to be in your life that you cannot walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner.”
Mann’s novel dramatizes how Hanna becomes a hunter of men, and how he became a cop who tells estranged wife Justine (Diane Venora) in the film, “All I am is who I’m going after.”
The novel also explores how Shiherlis grew up in Paramount, California with his teenage mother before she was institutionalized, and Charlene’s previous life as a high-priced call girl in Vegas.
Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley never met before the events in Heat – but the novel intertwines their parallel trajectories, narrowly missing each other in Chicago years before. It also generates relationships they have in common with characters both in the past and the future of the novel that prove tragic. As in the film, the novel explores the intimate lives as well as the primacy of work among both the police and the criminals.
A number of scenes in Heat were based on actual events. “Many of the characters are based on thieves, detectives, and ex-cons I’ve met over the years,” Mann said, “including Chuck Adamson, who killed the actual Neil McCauley in 1963. His partner was Dennis Farina.”
Both of those men appeared in Mann’s first film Thief and worked with Mann on Miami Vice, Crime Story and Manhunter. When Adamson had a chance encounter with the flesh and blood McCauley in Chicago, “I didn’t know whether to arrest him, shoot him or invite him for coffee,” Adamson said. He chose the latter and the pair headed to the Belden Deli around the corner.
Mann approached the novel with the same precision and level of research he brings to his films. “My way of working with a project involves immersing into the culture of the subject and accumulating a lot of detailed first-hand impressions and information. I want to know and feel that culture and the lives of the people in it. Methods, attitudes, and family values. I like to navigate these environments and operate within them. There’s an authenticity discoverable there that I believe resonates with audiences as real and true.”
Mann’s immersion into the novel is comparable to the meticulous research he devoted to the Heat script, and prep that included three months of training, including firearms on the LA County Sheriff’s shooting ranges, for the actors playing both cops and criminals. Former SAS soldiers (Mick Gould and Andy McNab) helped Mann orchestrate the daylight firefight between Hanna’s LAPD and McCauley’s crew, and it is counted as one of the best action sequence in modern cinema.
Mann has gotten four Oscar noms over his career, and won two Emmys for work that ranges from Heat, Thief, The Insider, Collateral, The Last of the Mohicans, and Ali. He has also written or co-written the screenplays for those films, along with executive producing TV series that include the groundbreaking Miami Vice and Crime Story.
Heat has been an inspiration for many filmmakers, including Christopher Nolan who said it helped inform the dark vision of Gotham City in The Dark Knight trilogy. “One of the biggest epic films I have ever seen is Michael Mann’s Heat,” he said. “I always felt Heat to be a remarkable demonstration of how you can create a vast universe within one city and balance a very large number of characters and their emotional journeys in an effective manner.”
Michael Mann books is represented by Shane Salerno of The Story Factory who presented the idea of an imprint to Mann and brokered the deal with HarperCollins.
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