Heat 2 co-writer Meg Gardiner on writing the epic crime saga [Interview]


The sequel simply reads like Michael Mann unfiltered, but without limits.

Tremendous. I mean, like he said, I’ve heard him say that when you’re writing a novel, you don’t have to worry about the movie budget. You can throw it all in when it comes to action and excitement without worrying about explosives or the cost of everything, because it’s all in your imagination. So that’s great. We wanted to put some slam, bang, Michael Mann action, and take it to a whole new level in the book.

Was history ever going to get as global as it does?

It was evident. Michael had been thinking about it for years and had the idea for a novel – it would be both a prequel and a sequel and would just blast the story world backwards and forwards in time and geographically. Obviously, we’re going to have LA. He really wanted to do Chicago, because he’s a Chicago guy. And you must have Vegas. [Val Kilmer’s character] Chris Shiherlis, I mean, that’s the central element of his personality when he was young. He’s a player.

And that seems to inform everything he does in the story.

Yeah, indeed. And Paraguay, Michael had gone to Ciudad del Este when he shot “Miami Vice”, the movie. So he had experienced the city, seen what was going on there, understood the whole vibe and really wanted to put some of the novel there.

During your first conversation with Michael Mann, you talked for hours, didn’t you? What did you discuss?

It started to stretch, but it was a few hours. It wasn’t 12 o’clock or something like that. I mean, we had to talk on the phone and work together virtually for a long time because we started the book during Covid, so we couldn’t get together. He wanted to do this project. He wanted to make a novel out of it. He had read my thriller “UNSUB” and we had the same literary agent, so he asked to be put in touch with me. We talked about his ambitions for the book, what I could bring to help achieve those ambitions. He already had a solid concept for the story. So we had to see if our strengths fit together and if our ideas would click together to bring it to life on the page.

How did you two connect as storytellers?

Yes, it took a while to get out of it. I mean, first of all, Michael was already an extraordinarily accomplished writer. Because all of his work had been in film and television, not novels, he knew he was entering an entirely different arena in terms of the type of writing he would do. He therefore also collaborated successfully on very large films and was open to collaboration. I was delighted to see that he has a very strong story instinct and so much craftsmanship. He knows so much about grammatical structure. He knows all of these characters and the movie inside and out and knew he would have to expand on them in the novel. He wanted to work with someone who had experience writing a 120,000-word-to-page story, which is much longer than screenplays.

Legendarily he is very demanding and driven and wants to do everything right, which is something I knew I would have to bring my A-game to every day. But as we started to come up with ideas, see how we were going to flesh things out, where the characters were coming from and where they were going to go, I was absolutely thrilled with his confidence in me, as we went along. as we got to know each other, he would let me run with something, write a section and send it to him and see if it went in the direction we both were hoping for. As a collaborator, he was very generous, open-minded and supportive, which I found exciting.

You’ve said it before, your thrillers are fiction, but they grow from a core of fact. What facts was “Heat 2” inspired by?

There are a number of robberies in the novel, as it’s definitely about Neil McCauley’s team in Chicago, taking a tunnel job for a savings and loan. Michael wanted to make sure it was authentic tunnel work. So we phoned a bank robber for a few hours and asked him how he would do it.

Since we see Neil and Vincent at different times and places, how did you both want to stay true to them and show how different they were in the past?

Like you said, we needed them to be the same people, but at a different stage in their lives. I mean, they’re younger, which affects them both. Neil wasn’t that long out of jail. Hanna is much closer to her tour of duty in Vietnam, and they’re both unstable, which is fun.

Did you have a lot of Pacino and De Niro inflections in mind when writing this dialogue?

I had the voices of Pacino and De Niro in my head and their performances of “Heat” in my mind as I wrote, which I thought was absolutely fabulous because they brought those characters to life so vividly and completely. that it was great to have as models in my mind to write the new sections of the story. Once you hear Al Pacino walking through a crime scene, it’s hard to forget him. It runs through your veins as you write other scenes.

Thus, Pacino has already said that Vincent Hanna was under influence of cocaine in “Heat”.

OK. I say. Yes. I know Pacino alluded to this as at least informing his performance in the movie.

And he does some coke in the prequel. Even in the book, does cocaine influence his behavior?

A little.


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