Cinema history in the making: Michael Mann directs Al Pacino and Robert De Niro
disciplined. almost like a Mondrian painting -— to me. that's Bobby De .\'iro.'
The film comes at a key point in both actors‘ careers. Pacino‘s ascendancy crashed in the mid-80s with Rr’l'U/tllfmt before slowly building
again with the commercial strccess of Sea Of
Love and the Best .-\ctor Oscar for See/rt ()Txl li'omun. De \iro. so some newspapers would
‘McCauley is somebody who’s removed from society . . . very intense, very disciplined, almost like a Mondrian
painting — to me, that’s Bobby De Niro.’
tell us. has had a lazy past ten years. While it‘s true that We're No Ange/s- would be anyone's nadir. this was a period that saw menacing turns in (Tom/Fel/(rs' and ('u/ie hear. a nice change of pace in comedy .llit/night Run and love story Stanley Am! Iris. and an underrated directorial debut with .-l Bro/1.x Tit/e. Keeping New York‘s 'l‘riliefa production centre up and running proved a financial burden for its founder De .\'iro — hence the high turnover of roles and some eyebrow-raising choices made with a quick buck in mind -A but with Heat and the forthcoming Scorsese collaboration Casi/m. he has forrnd his stride again.
Beyond question is that. even on a bad day. these are two of the finest craftsmen in the film game. Both are former students of New York‘s famous Actors' Studio and both are exponents of the har‘d—to-define ‘method‘ style of acting. but neither allows his technique to become bogged down with mere surface tricks. instead getting to grips with the character below.
‘;\l's style of acting is really the Al Pacino School of Acting — it's got one student and one teacher. and that‘s Al.‘ reckons .\lann. director of The Last ()f The .Iluhreans antl Mun/turner. "The same is true of Bob. These are two great artists in their prime. They've been doing it for 30 years. and the evolution of an actor is towards more and more specificity. more detail and accuracy. more chance-taking. Both men get very. very deep in character way before they start filmingzthey inject the self into the milieu of the characters. putting themselves in the places they would be. acquiring the skills they would have.‘
As what could be writer".
described as a ‘method Mann also spends time getting into
Tobert De Niro
BORN: 17 August 1943.
PLACE: Little Italy, New York City. TRAINING: Stella Adler Studio and Actors‘ Studio with Lee Strasberg.
lOVE INTEREST: Helena Springs. Toukie Smith. Naomi Campbell. Married to Diahnne Abbott (1976-4979, son Raphael).
ON WORKING WITH PAGINO: ‘We did the scenes. They were good. It felt good. That’s all.‘
TOP TEN MOVIES: Mean Streets (I973). The Godfather Part II ( I974), Tori Driver (I976). The Deer Hunter (1978). Raging Bull (1980). The King Of Comedy (1982), Once Upon A Time In America (I983). GoodFeIIas (1990). Cape Fear (I991). A 81'er Title (1993. also as director). FORTHCOMING MOVIES: Casino (director Martin Scorsese. co-starn'ng Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci), Sleepers (director Barry Levinson. eo-starring Kevin Bacon. Dustin Hoffman and Brad Pitt). Mum‘n Ir Room (director Jerry Zaks, producer Robert De Niro, co-starn'ng Meryl Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio), The Fun (director Tony Scott. co-starring Wesley Snipes). Affirmative Action and Kundnn (director Martin Scorsese).
character — for The Last Of The t’WU/IH‘UIIS‘. he and Daniel l)ay-l.ewis camped out in the forest with only a frontiersman's utensils — so he knows better than anyone the different tactics both actors use when preparing their roles. ‘Al proceeds from the subconscious.‘ he says. ‘For specific scenes. he will learn his dialogue word- perfect three weeks before we shoot. and he‘ll never need to work with the screenplay again.’J'-f What is happening in that scene is the function of him being in character. " something purely unpredictable. What Al is after. then and there. is spontaneity. the suspension of disbelief. really believing this moment is happening. being in the moment.
‘Bob prepares in a completely different way. lle'll find a physical detail. the building block of the character. It’ll be “How starched is the collar?” and “Why is it the
white shirt he's got
on'.’". It's notjust that it feels a certain way WEE- against the skin. it‘s
everything is expressive of / character to yotr as an actor. Al doesn't really care which shirt. but the significance of details that Bob. in a very additive way. accumulates. almost like sedimentary rock.‘ Since their characters live on either side of the law. De Niro and Pacino only have a couple of scenes together in Heat. although they‘ve each got ample screen time. Audience appetites have been whetted. but who knows when we‘Ll be allowed to sample another dish as rich as this one.
Heat opens in Scotland on Friday" 2 l'ehruurv. and is reviewed on page 24.
The List 26 Jan-8 Feb 1996 7