Director Alan Parker (left) shows Mickey Rourke the proper way to rough up a fellow actor on the set of 1987’s Angel Heart.
Thanks to the fine folks at Cinephilia & Beyond, I’ve spent the last few hours digging through the treasure trove that is AlanParker.com. The official site of the British director behind Angel Heart, Midnight Express, Mississippi Burning, and Pink Floyd The Wall, the site features behind the scenes pics and essays by Parker about the making of his films. That includes a production diary from Angel Heart with this passage about the casting of Robert De Niro:
“Getting Robert De Niro to say ‘yes’ to doing my movie wasn’t easy. Lanza’s, the Italian restaurant in New York’s Lower East Side where he had suggested we meet was the kind of cliché neighbourhood restaurant full of gentlemen in mohair suits making sure that they didn’t have their backs to the proceedings. But Mr. De Niro didn’t want to be stared at.
I had been courting him to play the Devil in Angel Heart for some months and we had met a few times—and he had continued to bombard me with questions examining every dot and comma of my script. I had walked him through the locations we had found, read through the screenplay sitting on the floor of a dank, disused church in Harlem and finally he said ‘yes’. To be honest, he said, “Alan, I am of a mind to do the movie.” Not overly gushing, it’s true, but De Niro doesn’t gush.” – Alan Parker
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