A Heat 2 Movie Adaptation Has An Impossible Recasting Challenge

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Sequel novel Heat 2 returns to the world of the classic 1995 crime film but here’s why a movie adaptation faces an impossible recasting challenge.

Robert De Niro Al Pacino Heat

Michael Mann has plans to adapt his sequel novel Heat 2 into a movie, but in recasting Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer, he faces a near impossible challenge. The original Heat had a long journey to reach the big screen, with Mann penning the screenplay during the late ’70s. He didn’t plan on directing it, however, and offered it to Walter Hill (48 Hrs), who passed. Mann later revived Heat as a planned television series in the wake of his success producing Miami Vice. Renamed L.A. Takedown, Mann himself shot a condensed version of the screenplay as a pilot in only 19 days.

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The pilot later aired as a standalone TV film in 1989, though NBC scrapped the series after being unhappy with Mann’s choice for the lead role of Hanna, Scott Plank. Following his success with sweeping historical epic The Last Of The Mohicans – which isn’t on Netflix, Hulu or Prime – Mann finally mounted Heat as he always envisioned. Heat is now considered one of the greatest crime movies ever made, and is famed for pairing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together onscreen for the first time. The movie’s incredible ensemble, intense shootouts and especially its fabled diner scene are only some of the reasons it’s regarded as a classic.

Related: Heat: Director’s Definitive Edition – All Changes Explained

The story ends on a note that doesn’t lend itself to a sequel, but Mann and co-author Meg Gardiner have revisited the world of the film with their novel Heat 2. The book has a dual timeline, taking place six years before Heat and detailing how De Niro and Kilmer’s characters came to work together and also how Pacino’s – who passed on De Niro’s Goodfellas’ role – Hanna chased a killer in Chicago. The plot also jumps ahead in time to follow Kilmer’s Chris Shiherlis in the aftermath of escaping L.A. Mann has stated many times he intends to turn Heat 2 into a movie, but recasting the likes of Pacino, De Niro and Kilmer is no easy feat.

Who Could Replace Pacino, De Niro Or Kilmer?

Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer with guns in the street in Heat (1995)

It’s been nearly 30 years since the release of Heat, and given the prequel elements of Heat 2, that would mean if Pacino and De Niro returned, they would have to play characters in their 40s. While The Irishman’s de-aging technology allowed both actors to play younger versions of themselves, this process was far from seamless. There were moments where the de-aging didn’t quite hold up to scrutiny, while the body language of both men often made it clear they were much older than the ages they were portraying. Mann – who produced forgotten gem Band Of The Hand – has seemingly ruled out the option of Pacino and De Niro returning too, stating to Empire that “I love those guys, but they’d have to be six years younger than they were in Heat.”

Kilmer’s Shiherlis plays a major role in Heat 2, though a battle with throat cancer has largely left the actor unable to speak, also making it unlikely he will reprise the part. Mann will thus have to find new actors for Heat 2, many of whom will have to follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest American actors who ever lived. It’s hard to think of who could possibly fill those roles when it comes to modern-day A-list performers. Mann worked with Chris Hemsworth on Blackhat, so could be a logical choice for the Shiherlis role. Colin Farrell has also worked with the director previously on 2006’s Miami Vice – where Farrell was horribly pranked – and might make for a great younger version of De Niro’s Neil McCauley, though Pacino is arguably the hardest recasting of all.

Heat features some of Pacino’s most memorable line readings and scenes, plus his voice is unmistakable. Mann’s best choice might be to just cast a heavy hitter like Oscar Issac or Josh Brolin and let them put their own unique stamp on the part. Either way, recasting a movie with one of the most acclaimed ensembles of all time is no easy task, and the casting director of Mann’s Heat 2’s – assuming it happens – has a near impossible challenge ahead.



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