Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Steve McQueen (actor)

Go To
The King of Cool.

"Like Steve McQueen
All I need's a fast machine
And I'm gonna make it all right."
Sheryl Crow, "Steve McQueen"

Terence Steven "Steve" McQueen (March 24, 1930 – November 7, 1980) was an American actor.

McQueen went into acting following a troubled childhood and a stint in the U.S. Marines. His early film work included a supporting role in the Paul Newman film Somebody Up There Likes Me, about boxer "Rocky" Graziano. He also starred in the horror movie The Blob (1958), and shortly after that began a three-year run as star of the Western TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive.

McQueen's "anti-hero" persona, which he developed on the cusp of the 1960s counterculture, made him one of the top box-office draws of the New Hollywood era. In 1974, he became the highest-paid movie star in the world. Although McQueen was often combative with directors and producers, his popularity put him in high demand and enabled him to command large salaries. He also earned respect for his performances, garnering an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Sand Pebbles.

Began a Romance on the Set with Ali MacGraw, his co-star in The Getaway, causing her to divorce her husband, legendary Paramount studio head Robert Evans.

He died of a heart attack while undergoing surgery for cancer in 1980 shortly after the release of his final film The Hunter. His son Chad played Dutch, one of the "Cobra Kais" in The Karate Kid (1984) and is currently known as a professional race-car driver and his grandson, Steven R. McQueen, is a regular on the series The Vampire Diaries.

A friend and student of Bruce Lee, he was one of the pallbearers after Lee's untimely death. During his time with the Marines he saved the lives of five men when the tank they were driving broke through the ice during an Arctic exercise.

His IMDB article (only three digits!) can be found here.

Not to be confused with the British film director Steve McQueen, who was named after him.

Steve McQueen on TV Tropes:

  • Acting for Two: The famous bike scene in The Great Escape had to be done with a stunt double in his place. So Steve instead doubles as the German motorcyclist who hits the wire.
  • Badass Driver: McQueen was an avid racer under the alias Harvey Mushman, from touring car racing to off-road motorcycle racing, and often did his own driving stunts in films because he was already as good or better than any stunt double. He owned at least 100 motorcycles and cars each. Part of what made the car chase in Bullitt so revolutionary is that he was able to be seen actually driving for about half of the chase.
  • The Danza: In The Blob as Steve Andrews.
  • Dawson Casting: In his first film, The Blob, he played a teenager, at the age of twenty-seven.
  • Friendly Rivalry: With fellow '60s-'70s leading man Paul Newman. The two even got to be Dueling Stars in The Towering Inferno.
  • Friend to All Children: McQueen could sometimes be difficult to work with. But he was unwaveringly kind to children who visited his set or when he encountered fans.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Despite The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, and The Thomas Crown Affair being his best-known roles, and The Sand Pebbles getting him his Oscar nomination, his personal favorite was in Bullitt.
  • Method Acting: He learned to play polo for The Thomas Crown Affair.
  • No Stunt Double: He insisted on doing most of the stunts in Bullitt himself.
  • The Other Marty: Sammy Davis Jr. was dropped from Never So Few after arguments with Frank Sinatra, and replaced with Steve.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • In The Reivers, a more family-friendly project, where he was a bit more comedic.
    • As a suave billionaire in The Thomas Crown Affair, in contrast to his tougher Anti-Hero image.
    • In Junior Bonner he plays a rodeo rider participating in a rodeo competition, which sounds like a fit to his image... except that the film is mostly centered on his efforts to reunite with his brother and estranged parents.
  • Production Posse: He, James Coburn and Charles Bronson all starred in both The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. Both films were directed by John Sturges and scored by Elmer Bernstein.
    • He also appeared in three films with his friend Don Gordon: Bullitt, Papillon, and The Towering Inferno.
  • The Red Stapler:
    • His desert boots and tweed jacket in Bullitt became quite popular after the movie.
    • Ditto for his Persol sunglasses in The Thomas Crown Affair.
  • Star-Making Role: The TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive is what brought him to the attention of Hollywood, and The Magnificent Seven solidified his status.
  • Throw It In!:
    • During The Great Escape' Fourth of July scene, Goff says "no taxation without representation". Hilts looks at him and says "What?" — which was Steve reacting to an ad-lib by Jud Taylor.
    • During Bullitt he actually missed the turn in the chase scene, resulting in the reverse burnout.
  • Wag the Director: He was infamous for this.
    • On The Magnificent Seven, he sought to steal the spotlight from most of the other cast members. Yul Brynner gave himself a Scully Box in the form of a mound of earth to make himself appear taller than Steve, who took to kicking it between takes. This one-upmanship spread to the rest of the actors.
    • His (anachronistic!) motorcycle stunt in The Great Escape was put in at his own insistence. Although insurance reasons meant that he couldn't do the stunt himself.
    • The gratuitous fight scene in The Cincinnati Kid was added at his insistence.
    • In The Towering Inferno he and Paul Newman were contractually required to have the exact same amount of lines each. But McQueen made sure that his character did not appear until an hour in, meaning that Newman would have used up most of his by the time McQueen came into the film.
    • Attempted this when he was initially cast as Willard in Apocalypse Now, repeatedly pressuring Francis Ford Coppola to rewrite the tortured Willard into the cool badass McQueen was accustomed to playing. Instead he got recast.
  • What Could Have Been: