LOS ANGELES-Twenty-one years ago Michael Mann’s iconic crime opus “Heat” paired Hollywood legends Al Pacino and Robert De Niro for the first time, delighting moviegoers and inspiring a generation of filmmakers. The sprawling 1995 epic, which pits the actors against one another as kindred spirits on opposite sides of the law, has become a benchmark in neo-noir cinema, lauded for its melancholic but visually stunning depictions of Los Angeles.

The stars and their director reunited this week for the first time to share memories of an intense 107-day shoot, debunk myths and reveal an aspect of Pacino’s acclaimed performance kept secret for two decades.

“I knew it would be special when I read the script so I’m happy that it got the attention it did,” De Niro, 73, told a panel at the Academy in Beverly Hills, moderated by Oscar-nominated British filmmaker Christopher Nolan. “Heat” follows Pacino’s LAPD detective Vincent Hanna over almost three hours as he and his team chase a gang of robbers led by De Niro across Los Angeles.  It is lauded for its striking cinematography, taut action and a meeting in a diner between the two leads that marked their first scene together after appearing separately in “The Godfather: Part II” 21 years earlier.