Steve McQueen


  1. Vic Morrow, Blackboard Jungle, 1954.    Director Richard Brooks wanted new, raw actors  as Glenn Ford’s high school students – even if so many were in  their twenties rather than teens. Morrow was 26 when beating a very newcomer called McQueen, 24. And at 28, Sidney Poitier beat off Louis Gosset Jr who was around the right  age at 18.  
  2. Robert Evans, The Fiend Who Walked The West,1958.     Fourteen years later, McQueen was the fiend who walked away with the third Mrs Evans, Ali MacGraw.
  3. Henry Silva, Ocean’s Eleven, 1960.     Punishing him for some alleged offence, Frank Sinatra replaced Sammy Davis with Steve in Never So Few. Sammy had kissed the ring and was back for this Las Vegas caper and Steve wasoffered the cowboy Louis Jackson. Hedda Hopper warned him off. “Do you want to be a movie star or a Sinatra flunky?”
  4. Dean Martin, Ocean’s Eleven, 1959. 
    “Forget the movie. Let’s pull the job!” said Frank Sinatra He  was not the first to hear about the classic heist. Story. Peter Lawford  was told it  by TV director Gilbert Kay, who heard it  from a gas station attendant who Kay shopped it around. No takers. Four years later, Lawford and his wife, Pat (JFK’s sister), bought an option for $10,000 in 58, with William Holden in mind as Danny Ocean, getting his army buddies together to rob the top four Las Vegas casinos in one night! As it was about pals, Lawford next thought of Sinatra’s Rat Pack  Which meant Sammy Daviss Jr and,  indeed, Lawford, having to get  back to the good graces of Ole Blue Eyes. Gary Cooper got Peter and Frank together again for Never So Few – the film Sinatra dropped Sammy from. Steve McQueen took his place, and almost played the Dean Martin’s Vegas role. The Clan played Vegas by night, and filmed by day. Most of the lesser known Clansters turned up in Lawford’s 1962 debut  production, opposite Henty Silva’s murder machine called Johnny Cool. Poor Gilbert Kay didn’t direct that one, either.

  5. Russ Tamblyn, Cimarron,1960.    MGM boys McQueen, George Hamilton, Dean Stockwell were also in the frame for The Kid in second version of Edna Ferber’s typicably epic novel. Mighty Metro managed to spring Tamblyn out of  US Army early to be in the film. The first 1931 version won the Best Film Oscar. This one did not. Ferber hated it. “This old gray head turned almost black during those two (or was it three?) hours.”
  6. George Peppard, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, 1961.  Tony Curtis asked his mate, director Blake Edwards, to let him play writer Paul Varjak opposite Audrey Hepburn’s American geisha, Holly Golightly.   However, Blake was looking over the new guys: Peppard and Steve McQueen (still hog-tied to Wanted: Dead or Alive series). Besides, Mel Ferrer, didn’t want his wife, Audrey Hepburn, working with Curtis, so there, by George.
  7. Karl  Böhm, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1960.   Some crazy casting ideas for MGM’s unnecessary re-hash of Rudolph Valentino’s silent (and  creaky) 1920 melodrama.  Ages were all wrong. So were personalities. For one bizarre example. director Vincente Minnelli wanted Steve McQueen as Nazi fan Heinrich von Hartrott.   McQueen refused (of course) and a real Austrian  took over, with his credit pruned from Karlheinz to Karl.
  8. Glenn Ford, Pocketful of Miracles, 1961.    Directing legend Frank Capra never knew this re-make of his 1933 Lady for a Day  would be his final film. Or he would have tried harder…  and found a better investor than Glenn Ford. All he needed was a star that UA considered bankable.   Dean Martin? Frank Sinatra? “I had my sights on a ballsy young actor who  threw out seismic hints of erupting into a luminary… but McQueen didn’t wiggle UA’s needle – yet.” Nor did Ford, after churning his co-production into a pocketful of merde.  Capra had also considered  Kirk Douglas and Jackie Gleason for Dave The Dude. 
  9. George Peppard, The Victors, 1963.    Preferred The Great Escape forhis Magnificent Seven mentorJohn Sturges. (Alas, they never made Vivacious Lady as planned).
  10. Paul Newman,  What A Way To Go! 1963.   Karl  Böhm, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1960.   Some crazy casting ideas for MGM’s unnecessary re-hash of Rudolph Valentino’s silent (and  creaky) 1920 melodrama.  Ages were all wrong. So were personalities. For one bizarre example. director Vincente Minnelli wanted Steve McQueen as Nazi fan Heinrich von Hartrott.   McQueen refused (of course) and a real Austrian  took over, with his credit pruned from Karlheinz to Karl.

  11. Richard Harris, Major Dundee, 1964.     Anthony Quinn dallied and title starCharlton Heston considered Steve: “a lesser name, but fresher, in some ways better than Tony.” Then, Heston and director Sam Peckinpah saw The SportingLife and jumped at Harris – raising his price to $300,000. He walked out of Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s neverending Red Desert to make his Hollywood deadline and promptly collapsed on arrival from battle fatigue. “Stricken is the only wordthat leaps to mind,” said Heston.
  12. George Segal, King Rat, 1965.    Steve never liked being second choice.  In this case after Paul Newman did not like being first choice… .Blacklisted Hollywood writer Carl Foreman (High Noon) decided to film James Cavell’s tough book about his three years as a WWII prisoner of the Japanese. With the finest UK actors:  new guys Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, veterans Trevor Howard, John Mills.  He then felt he had no more to say about war after The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Guns of Navarone and The Victors. UK writer-director Bryan Forbes made it his Hollywood debut, bravely side-stepping Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Frank Sinatra for the Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf find, George Segal – as the titular wheeler-dealer-fixer-conniver who all but ends up running the jungle camp.
  13. Stephen Boyd, The Oscar, 1965.     Harlan Ellison adapted Richard Sale’s book for McQueen as a movie star jerk called Frank Fane. Nominated for a comeback role, he jumps up too fast on  hearing: “And the winner is… Frank…   Sinatra.” All based on the 1932 Oscarnight when Will Rogers announced Best Director  by saying “Come up and get it, Frank!”  Up jumped Capra  – and the winner was Frank Lloyd. (Capra won the following year for It Happend One Night, first of his three Oscars).  Banned from seeing rushes, Ellison  practically wept” at the premiere of   the rewritten mess made of his work. Said New York Times critic Bosley Crowther as “another distressing example of Hollywood fouling its nest -professionally, socially, commercially and especially artistically.”
  14. Robert Redford, The Chase, 1965.    For his first  Hollywood production  for 14 years  since  When I Grow Up – and he had by now – Sam Spiegel strangely chose a dreary thriller (shelved for decades) to follow the seven-Oscared  Lawrence of Arabia.  He  knew only star power could resolve its limitations.  He wanted  Brando and Marilyn as lovers and McQueen for Bubba, the escaped con on the runm.  Never happened. And director Arthur Penn said: “I enjoy a kind of amnesia about that one.”   Let me remind you, Arthur…  It was totally overblown. Like Marlon.
  15. Robert Fuller, Return of the Seven, 1966.     Knowing how much the movie needed him, Yul Brynner asked – some say, begged – Steve to reprise Vin.He said the plot was absurd but he’d be in Brynner’s next movie…
  16. Don Murray, The Plainsman, TV, 1966.    Wow! Loren and McQueen – that could have been interesting!  Universal wanted Sophia and Steve as Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.  Oppositee  Guy Stockwell‘s Buffalo Bill and Leslie  Nielsen’s General Custer in a mild re-hash of CB DeMille’s 1936 classic.  The  cold tea tele-duo of Dalton and Don Murray were far from Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur. Thankfully it was short (98 minutes) and had a John Williams score.
  17. Christopher Plummer, Triple Cross, 1966.     But he was not… He cabled Brynner in Europe: I’M TRULY SORRY THAT I CAN’T BE WITH YOU. BUT MY HORSE REFUSES TO SWIM THE ATLANTIC.

  18. James Garner, Grand Prix, 1966.
    “I had him for ten brief seconds,” wunderkind director John Frankenheimer decided to tell me in Cannes. “If it had happened, the name of this hotel wouldn’t be the Majestic, it would be the the fucking Frankenheimer!  There was a terrible misunderstanding between Steve and my then partner, Edward Lewis, which caused the whole thing to break up. Through something that was not my fault.It was one of those terrible meetings where I shouldhave beenthere but I was doing some ridiculous thing which seemed very important then but seems trivial today.   Because I missed that meeting, I lost Steve McQueen… And the rest is history. We got James Garner, who really couldn’t do the job.  As  a result, we gave the  movie to Yves Montand. A terrible mistake because we threw him off the cliff at Monza – we killed our hero!  Even so, the  movie  was  a great success.  But with Steve McQueen it would have been  a humungous hit.  I’m pretty sure it  would have been the  first $100-million grosser.” McQueen got on with his own motor-racing epic, Le Mans. It flopped – killing his Solar company and his long friendship with director  John Sturges.  Likewise, McQueen and Frankenheimer  remained distant for some years until a chance meeting in a restaurant. “Steve put his arms around me and said: ‘I’ll say this once: I shoulda done it!’ And he shoulda.” In the 80s, Frankenheimer found another film for McQueen: Tiger Ten about the WWII Flying Tigers. “He would have been brilliant in it.  At the last minute he couldn’t do it.   I didn’t know why at the time – but he had cancer.”

  19. Albert Finney, Two For The Road, 1967.    Steve’s wife, the exquisite Neile Adams, begged him to do it. “He didn’t follow the sophisticated chronology,” said Neile. And he passed… despite Audrey Hepburn being in his Top Ten ofactresses he wanted to nail.
  20. Scott Wilson,In Cold Blood, 1967.     For the killers made famous by writer Truman Capote – Perry Smith and Dick Hickock – Columbia wanted safe names. Such as the first suggested teaming of McQueen and Paul Newman!   Richard Brooks said: “No, no, no and no!” And signed more or less unknowns, Robert Blake and Wilson. And McQueen preferred The Thomas Crown Affairand Bullitt, 1968

  21. Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate, 1967.
    Hoffman kept refusing to test because he felt insulted – he was Jewish, not a WASP.  So was director Mike Nichols, who convinced him with his celebrated zinger. “Well, maybe Benjamin ls Jewish inside.”  Robert Redford insisted he wasn’t right and Nichols agreed. “The public would never believe Redford as a loser with girls.”   Idem for Warren Beatty, George Hamilton and Robert Wagner…  Next? Keir Dullea, Charles Grodin (called up for  Nichols in 1969’s Catch 22, 1969), Albert Finney, Harrison Ford, Steve McQueen (!),  David Lynch regular Jack Nance, Jack Nicholson, Anthony Perkins (better as Chaplain Tappman in Catch 22),  Burt Ward (Batman’s Robin but Fox TV wouldn’t let him go), Gene Wilder and the inevitable unknown, Lee Stanley, who went on to be a  docu director. Oh, and Hoffman’s room-mate, Robert Duvall. (Gene Hackman also shared their digs and he was fired from Mr Robinson!). Producer Lawrence Turman said they saw a million kids… Nichols used as many as he could. Mike Farrell (TV’s M*A*S*H) and Kevin Tighe won screen debuts. Richard Dreyfuss, for example, got an actual line – “Shall I get the cops? I’ll get the cops” –   much better than walk-ons for  Brian Avery (in TV until 2018) and Donald F Glut (TV’s Frankenstein  monster in the 50s).  Hoffman got $17,000 and was then jobless and back on welfare for months. Until catching the Midnight Cowboy bus. McQueen would never have  asked “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me – aren’t you?”   He’d have  known!

  22. Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes, 1968.
  23. Rock Hudson, Ice Station Zebra, 1968.    Too busy at his Solar company to worry about what later became Howard Hughes’ favourite movie. He watched it over and over again…  Well, somebody had to.
  24. Gregory Peck, Mackenna’s Gold, 1968.  Both of the most movie-successful telly-cowpokes – McQueen and Clint Eastwood – rejected the weak Western. Worse, sad Peck, “it was a terrible western. Just wretched.” Clint made the far better Hang ‘Em High, instead ; the first of his many Malpaso productions.
  25. Ernest Borgnine, The Wild Bunch, 1968. 
  26. Robert Culp, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, 1969.   Bob.   (Warren Beatty and  Robert Redford also refused).
  27. Robert RedfordButch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, 1969.  Kid.
  28. Gene Hackman, Marooned, 1969.    The space rescue thriller made one year before… “Huston, we have a problem.”
  29. Patrick O’Neal, The Kremlin Letter, 1970.    Directing veteran John Huston was keen on McQueen for some years. But the star had no desire to travel to Europe to talk – or act – just to ride in motor-cycle competitions.
  30. Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry, 1971.

  31. Robert Duvall, The Godfather, 1971. 
    Gene Hackman, The French Connection, 1971.     He refused all cops after Bullitt. “I was something like the seventh actor in line,”recalled Hackman. “By the time they came to my name, the producer said: God, have we got down to Hackman?” Yes and he got the Oscar!
  32. Clint Eastwood, Play Misty For Me, 1971.     “The problem,” felt Steve, “is that the woman has a stronger role than the man.” This never bothered Clint, who had a canny understanding of a script’s potential and invariably made gold of other people’s leavings. And, in this case, “probably the best debut of any American director,” said McQueen’s production partner Robert Relyea about Clint’s firstouting in the director’s chair.
  33. Zalman King, The Ski Bum, 1971.     After their Nevada Smith, 1966, producer Joe Levine offered Steve the script – the moon and the stars, too. McQueen was more committed to The Sand Pebbles. Levine tried Peter O’Toole and then made it with the with the third XI.
  34. Hal Holbrook, Suddenly Single, TV, 1971.     This  bittersweet look at a newly divorced man in the singles’ world was set to follow Bullit, in 1968. Then, Steve preferred The Reivers and the singles went to ABC TV.
  35. Burt Reynolds, Deliverance, 1971.     McQueen was the #1 target for  Warner Bros. He didn’t bite and passed Lewis to… well, almost everyone. Brando, Fonda, even ole Jimmy Stewart. “We’re too old,” Lee Marvin  told his pal, John Boorman. The UK direcor took the hint. Enter: Reynolds, launching his career, and Jon Voight, saving his. “If I had to put only one of my movies in a time capsule, it would be Deliverance,” Reynolds wrote in his 2015 memoir, But Enough About Me. “I don’t know if it’s the best acting I’ve done, but it’s the best movie I’ve ever been in. It proved I could act, not only to the public but me.”
  36. Elliott Gould, The Long Goodbye, 1973.     More money? Possible. Script approval? Impossible. Other Ms were considered for Raymond Chandler’s private dick Philip Marlowe: Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum. Veteran director Howard Hawks (who had made Humphrey Bogart the definitive Marlowe in The Big Sleep classic in 1946) quit because “Marlowe, as Chandler saw him, was unthinkable in the 70s.”Peter Bogdanovich took over, then Brian Hutton who chose Gould- and Robert Altman kept him. And McQueen (Altman’s Trancas neighbour) visited the set.

  37. Elliott Gould, California Split, 1973.  
    How many Spielberg films did Robert Altman direct? Just this one.  Slide, when Steven Spielberg and his pal, Joseph Walsh (compulsive gambler, ex-child actor, washed up at 18), spent nine months naturalising their script. They had McQueen and a deal which MGM soured by adding Dean Martin as a mafiosi. (He wears a lucky chip around his neck, he gets shot, the chip saves his life – you call the movie Lucky Chip.) The guys fled to Universal which gave Spielberg The Sugarland Express to play with. Bye-bye Joey. And hello Bob Altman… “That was supposed to star Steve McQueen,” said Elliott Gould, “even though the story was drawn from my own life. The guy I lived with back then, Joseph Walsh, he wrote the picture, produced it with Bob Altman, and played the bookmaker. In real life, I was Bill, the character George Segal played, and Joseph was Charlie – the character I played. I used to gamble, and that story was basically our story. Anyway, McQueen was insisting on rewrites that didn’t exist, so The Old Man called me and I was happy to do it. I would’ve done anything he asked…   God, I loved the Old Man. And we became such good friends. He was like a father to me.” And Spielberg bemoaned: “I coulda made millions… I would’ve built it up to the greatst orgasm in town!”

  38. Charles Bronson, Death Wish, 1973.     New York architect turned vigilante Paul Kersey was originally intended for Bronson’s fellow Great Escapee. After finishing The Stone Killer, 1973, UK director Michael Winner told Bronson about it.  “A man whose wife and daughter are mugged goes out and shoots muggers.” “I’d like to do that,” said Bronson. “The film?”“No… shoot muggers!”
  39. Charles Bronson, Mr Majestyk, 1973.    First Clint Eastwood, then McQueen passed on the Elmore Leonard script that he later novelised. Weakly made by veteran director Richard Fleischer, it was buried at the 1974 box-office by Bronson’s next gig. Death Wish.
  40. Robert Redford, The Great Gatsby, 1973.   Daisy was Ali MacGraw’s Scarlett and she felt Steve was the perfect Rhett –  or Jay Gatsby.   When  he came  to discuss The Getaway with Ali and Robert Evans, the Paramount production chief “all I could think of was how to persuade him to do the Gatsby script.” She got the man, left her husband – and lost the movie, her wedding present from Evans. Gatsby was the only role Evans ever longed to play. “Funnily enough the only actor I could imagine playing him was McQueen.” Despite the vast box-office potential of McQueen-MacGraw,  Evans  told the Paramount studio owner:  “It’s them or me.”    Redford was keen. Very keen. “Evans was no fan of mine. He wouldn’t even consider me. Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson were his preferences.” So Redford arranged a meet with the film’s UK director Jack  Clayton – 90 mjnutes inside a Heathrow Airport terminal. (Told you he was keen) Clayton had been favouring Nicholson but RR won him over: “You can see the possiblity of danger beneath that romantic WASP image.” Evans was furious at such subterfuge. And, anyway, Redford was blond and Gatsby, dark haired. Rubbsh, said Redford, who knew Gatz better than Evans. “His hair was freshly barbered and smoothed back and his skin was pulled tight over his face –  that’s the description [in the novel].”

  41. Martin Sheen, The Execution of Private Slovik, TV, 1974.     Straight after Never So Few, in 1959, Frank Sinatra planned to direct McQueen in this true account of the only US soldier executed for desertion since the Civil War. A storm followed Frank’s signing of ex-blacklisted scenarist Albert Maltz. Not being able to use the writer of his choice, Sinatra backed down for the only time to Hollywood, “my family, my friends and the American public,” and shelved the project – which ended up as a dramatic tele-movie scripted by producers Richard Levinson, William Link, winning Emmies for Sheen and director Lamont Johnson (the CBS radio Tarzan, 1951-1953).
  42. Paul Newman, The Towering Inferno, 1974.     “Somehow,” said scenarist Stirling Silliphant, “McQueen couldn’t say architect words.  He wanted to be the fire chief – with great perception. That’s the only hero in the whole thing.  That’s the white hat. Everyone else is guilty.  He said: “Look, if I play that part you’re gonna have to get someone who can really be strong opposite me.” His suggestions: Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and with considerable foresight, Jack Nicholson.
  43. George Kennedy,  Earthquake, 1974.     The Big One hits LA. And Kennedy is a cop hero… Because McQueen (and another Earthquake target, Paul Newman) were at Warner Bros and Fox saving The Towering Inferno.   Both roles offered to McQueen were action men, an LAPD sergeant and a towering  fire chief… while Newman’s were desk jockeys, an LA  building exec and a towering architect.
  44. John Wayne, Rooster Cogburn, 1974.   The idea was fair – a sequel  to True Grit.  But if Wayne proved too ill, what would be the point of someone else in his titular Oscar-winning rôle? Marlon Brando topped producer Hal Wallis’ eye-patch  list of Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, George C Scott and some of Duke’s old co-stars: Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck. Plus four of co-star Katharine Hepburn’s previous partners  – Charles Bronson, Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Quinn – and as she continued trying to pick guys she’d never  worked with before… Warren Beatty, Henry Fonda, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Paul Scofield, Henry Winkler (!)… (McQueen turned down her Grace Quigleyin 1983).   Kate wrote that embracing Duke “was like leaning against a great tree.” This was director Stuart Miller’s second feature. The “6ft 6ins somafabitch no-talent, ” as Duke termed him, never made a third.
  45. Clint Eastwood, The Eiger Sanction, 1975.    Second Steve/Solar project to be made – but produced and directed by Clint at his Malpaso combine. “It’s lucky I never got around to that one. Probably would’ve broken my neck. It was about mountain climbing – and I’d have been doing all of the stuntwork, myself.”
  46. Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975.
  47. Gene Hackman, Lucky Lady, 1975.     First star approached when George Segal (wisely) jumped ship.As Hackman foundout, not everything McQueen rejected proved as hot as The FrenchConnection. 
  48. Jack Nicholson, The Missouri Breaks, 1975,      Even with director Bob Rafelson suggesting Marlon Brando as his quarry, Steve nixed yet another Western script after passing on Applegate’s Gold, American Flag, Heaven’s Gate. Ali was invited, too, but the marriage was already headed to a 1977 divorce.  Ironically, Nicholson’s favourite director handed the project to Arthur Penn… who clearly  had no idea what to do with it.  Nor did Marlon Brando and Nicholson.
  49. James Brolin, Gable and Lombard, 1976.      A mad but genuine offer to the 1965 McQueens. “We both thought it a howl. Neile’s no Lombard and I’m no Gable. That was one less turkey in my life.” Next, it was offered to the 1975 McQueens, Steve and Ali. (He was also asked to continue Gable’s Rhett Butler in Tara: The Continuation of Gone With The Wind, TV, 1975).
  50. Robert Redford, A Bridge Too Far, 1976.   Another major star-packed WWII movie, like The Longest Day. With one difference.None of the leading guys died and… the mission failed,” said producer Joseph E Levine Director Richard Attenborough got his pals together: Bogarde, Caine, Connery, Olivier. Then he  added Caan, Gould, Hackman, O’Neal in LA.  But who should be the irascible Major Julian Cook, unwittingly leading his men into a massacre? Team McQueen kept pushing his price up, while Team Redford quietly secured $2m for him. Years before  Michael Feeney Callans 2011 Redford bio reveal all, I’d called darling Dickie Attenborough to check which role had been aimed at McQueen,  “Not for me to say, Tony,” he said “But if you want to know  the films I’ve turned down – call me when you’re next in London.” But I never was. And then, sadly, neither was he.

  51. Roy Scheider, Sorcerer, 1976.
    “Walon Green wrote it for Steve and if he’d made it, it would have been a masterpiece,”  said director William Friedkin (echoing Frankenheimer on Grand Prix). McQueen loved the re-tread of realisateur Henri-Georges Clouzot’s  French classic, La salaire de la peur, 1953, until realising shooting would bein Mexico or the Dominican Republic or…   “He was just starting his relationship with Ali MacGraw,  didn’t want to be away from her..  ‘Why don’t you write something for her.’ I said: ‘You just told me it was one of the best scripts you ever read, now you want me to put a whole new character in there for her?’ ‘Well, make her co-producer or something.’ I said: ‘Ah Steve, fuck off! I don’t believe in that shit. And I certainly don’t want to schmuck bait your wife and call her a producer because she’s not going to be a producer on the film.’ And he then said ‘OK,  I understand that, then let’s make it all in America.’ I said, ‘Steve I’ve found the locations and I’m committed to them. I don’t want to do it in America.’ Because of those three reasons, he decided to pass. If that came up today, I would have done anything he wanted. I was so arrogant at that time. I thought I was the star of that film. So I didn’t think that a close-up of Steve McQueen was worth a shot of the most beautiful landscape. A close-up of McQueen was worth more. When McQueen dropped out, I lost Marcello Mastroianni and Lino Ventura… Only my arrogance cost me that cast.  I said: ‘I don’t need stars; I’ll just make it with four good actors. And I did.” Another of his biggest mistakes.  Film flopped. Then again, it opened one week after… Star Wars

  52. Richard Dreyfuss, Victory At Entebbe, 1976.     Hardly Israeli enough to be the colonel leading the rescue mission…
  53. Stephen Macht, Raid On Entebbe, TV, 1977.   …and nor for the best of the three microwaved movies made about the Israeli Army’s rescue  of the victims of a Palestinian hijacking on July 4, 1976 – premiered  on NBC TV, 14 months after the events. 
  54. Martin Sheen,  Apocalypse Now, 1976.
  55. Richard Dreyfuss, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1976.     More Columbia’s idea than Spielberg’s – he was wary of working with stars, unless they were his stars. Steven recalled Steve refused because “I wouldn’t be able to shed a tear on cue.” OK, said Spielberg, I’ll rewrite the scene (of entering the mothership). “No,” said McQueen, “leave it intact and get another actor.” And so it was Dreyfuss – as it always had been since Spielberg told himthe story while making Jaws.
  56. Robert Redford, A Bridge Too Far, 1976.     Rather than pay McQueen’s $3m – $1m a week – and a cut – the producer paid Redford $2m.  “But he isn’t doing it just for the money.”  No, just to work for producer Joseph E (“like in Euripides”) Levine!
  57. George C Scott, Islands in the Stream, 1977.  After their Papillon, director Franklin J Schaffner wanted McQueen as Ernest Hemingway – er, Thomas Hudson, a sculptor not a writer, living in the Bahamas, and very much the way Hemingway wanted to be, himself –  in his  1970posthumous novel.  Although keen on playing a father image, Steve told Schaffner: “You need a better actor”… Schaffner called up his Patton star. Last time they got an Oscar each. This time, they hardly got an audience.
  58. Al Pacino, Bobby Deerfield, 1976.    Director Sydney Pollack first thought of using a real supertar driver like… McQueen or Paul Newman (who had originally bought the rights).
  59. Ryan O’Neal, The Driver, 1977.  Another driver… “He didn’t want to do anything that had to do with cars at that time,” director Walter Hill told me. “He felt he had already done that and it was pretty hard to argue with that.” Hill had been assistant director on Bullit,  The Thomas Crown Affair  and was The Getaway scenarist.
  60. Kris Kristofferson, Convoy, 1977. And another… McQueen (and Burt Reynolds) apparently had qualms about playing a hero called… Rubber Duck. Sam Peckinpah was allowed full control by the EMIN suits who didn’t know  (or care?) about his reliance on coke, quaaludes and vitamin shots, He respun it as a modern Western, ran two months and $3m over schedule and kept claiming that McQueen and the Executive Car Leasing Company (!) were out to kill him. The film was wrenched from him and edited to be like  Smokey and the Bandit and Sam never got another gig for five years.. Now that would have been a Borgnine not even trying to sound British.  Lester finally returned to the better movie.

  61. Tommy Lee Jones, The Betsy,  1977. He was really off  cars. And movies! Absent for four years between The Towering Inferno (making$14m) and An Enemy of the People(zilch).  In 1971, the McQueens were asked to join, of all people, Laurence Olivier, as a thinly disguised Henry Ford, in Harold Robbins’ Godfather riff on the Detroit auto industry.  McQueen, of course, had played Robbins’ Nevada Smith. But the trouble here was Olivier’s character was  called Number One – not when McQueen was in the same flick.
  62. Clint Eastwood, The Gauntlet, 1977.  Hard to imagine even Marlon Brando coming close to Clint’s alcoholic cop – dispatched to Vegas to bring a hooker witness back to Phoenix. No way says the Mafia army… That was Plan A:  Mumbles and Barbra Streisand. Plan B: McQueen and Streisand. They didn’t gell at all!  Plan C: Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw (Mrs McQueen!)  for Sam Peckinpah. Plan D: Clint and La Barb – she’d brought him the script.  But she wanted songs. He bought her out] for Plan E: Clint and his lady, Sondra Locke… in the first cop art helmed by Clint. Classic Eastwood, said Roger Ebert. “Fast, furious, funny.” And totally shoot-out preposterous!
  63. Stephen Macht, Raid On Entebbe, TV, 1977.   Not  the best of the three microwaved movies made about the Israeli Army’s rescue of the victims of a Palestinian hijacking on July 4, 1976 – premiered on NBC TV, 14 months after the event.
  64. James Caan, Un autre homme , une autre chance (US: Another Man, Another Chance; UK: Another Man, Another Woman), France-US, 1977.     Pretentious French director Claude Lelouch decided to make a Western. He didn’t, of course. He made a Lelouchern . Complete with the hero riding to Beethoven’s Fifth!  Caan talked his way into the mess, while the realisateur was chasing Beatty, McQueen, Newman, or Pacino. None of whom, Lelouch said proudly, said No.   Nor yes.
  65. George C Scott, Islands in the Stream, 1977.   After their Papillon, director Franklin J Schaffner wanted McQueen as Ernest Hemingway – er, Thomas Hudson, a sculptor not a writer, living in the Bahamas, and very much the way Hemingway wanted to be, himself – in his 1970 posthumous novel. McQueen didn’t seem to share the vision. Schaffner called up his Patton star. Last time they got an Oscar each. This time, they hardly got an audience.
  66. Christopher Reeve,Superman, 1978.
  67. Kris Kristofferson, Convoy, 1978.     First submitted to McQueen and then, to Ali MacGraw – her first film in five years. “Honey,” said her agent Sue Mengers, “your marriage is in trouble, you have no money and you better take this job before it’s too late.”McQueen’s reaction? Divorce!Her son wrote a song about it: “My mother did a film called Convoy/Wotta piece ofshit/ Shelookedterrible, it was horrible/Wotta piece of shit…”
  68. Michael Caine, Ashanti, 1978.   Swiss producer Georges-Alain Vuille offered a $6m cheque for McQueen to play a WHO doctor. Er, an English WHO doctor! Caine called it “the worst, most wretched film I ever made.” 
  69. George C Scott, Hardcore, 1979.     Flatly refused.
  70. Robert Carradine, The Big Red One, 1979.     All the new movie brats wanted to back maverick auteur– and ex-Corporal 39532377 -Samuel Fuller’s saga of his 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, in North Africa and Europe in WW11. The new company of Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Ford Coppola and William Friedkin nearly produced it in 1974, whenPeter wanted to play Zab, aka Fuller,but was prepared to withdraw to pass it to McQueen. “TOO OLD to be me back then,” growled Sam in his usual CAPITALS.
  71. Darren McGavin, The Martian Chronicles, TV, 1980.     During a 1964 London stop-over, McQueen told me he would follow The Cincinatti Kid and The Sand Pebbleswith the Ray Bradbury movie: “They’re writing a role for me.” Or beefing up Sam Parkhill for him… Either way, itnever happened. And Bradbury said the mini-series version was: “Booorrrinnnggg!”

  72. Kris Kristofferson,  Heaven’s Gate, 1980.    
    The ideal leads were seen as McQueen and MacGraw.  Of McCourse!   However, like Clint Eastwood, McQueen passed on Michael Winner’s offer for the  version  called The Johnson County War. in 1974.   It next became infamously known one of Hollywood’s Top Ten Financial Disasters. In the space of six years (and five Oscars for his Deer Hunter, 1978), Cimino’s career was totally flushed.

  73. Richard Jordan, Raise The Titanic, 1980.     And k Lord Lew Grade…! The UK producer saw author Clive Cussler’s hero, Dirk Pitt, as a 007-style franchise. Steve McQueen rejected $3m because the script (by some 17 scenarists!) was too flat. Elliot Gould was cheaper, except he passed, as well. Jordan was a B in an A. Hence, “Low” Grade’s biggest flop. “It would’ve been cheaper to lower the Atlantic.” Cussler cussed a lot and refused to sell movie rights to his Dirk Pitt books. Until Sahara, 2005m when again, Pitt was the pits.
  74. Burt Reynolds, The Cannonball Run, 1980.  Originally planned as an McQueen  all-out action thriller. After his death,  Burt good ole boyed it (to death). Reynolds said he made the mapcap comedy wannabe for all the wrong reasons. First, to help his buddy, stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham. Well, that’s what friends are for. Another reason? Sure. ” I also felt it was immoral to turn down that kind of money. [$5m for three weeks work]. I suppose I sold out so I couldn’t really object to what people wrote about me.”  He liked McQueen – and Paul Newman. “Those two guys I greatly admired and liked a lot,” he told Deadline Hollywood in 2018, “they were really special.  [Newman]  was a terrific driver, as good as anybody out there, though Steve McQueen maybe would’ve given him a run for his money… I got to know Steve real well. He’d get in a fight in a bar at the drop of a hat, and I thought, oh shit, here we go again, but I loved being with him. It was fun!”
  75. Paul Newman, Fort Apache, The Bronx, 1981.     Another cop hits the dust and McQueen was dead before Newman picked it up. “It was strange,” commented James Coburn, “Newman was fearful of Steve in some way.”  New York mayor Ed Koch called it racist. Yeah, right, with a civil rights champion starring!  Floating around for some years – once with McQueen and Nick Nolte attached – was based on New York detectives, Tom Mulheran and Peter Tessitore (respun as Murphy and Corelli). Their 41st Precinct beat was known as Fort Apache because of the huge crime rate. Must have improved. It was later known as… Little House on the Prairie.
  76. Sylvester Stallone, First Blood ( Rambo), 1981.
  77. Nick Nolte, The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley, 1984.    “Son, I may ask you to kill, but I would never ask you to murder! Call it pest control…”   One 1972 legend says  writer A Martin Zweiback threw his 25-page treatment over the gate of director George Cukor’s home… where Katharine Hepburn was convalescing after surgery.  She loved the tale of old Grace persuading hit-man Seymour Flint to knock her off… but a few of her un-friends first! She saw McQueen as  Flint and he was won over by her boundless  enthusiasm.  Seven years later, Columbia greenlit a version with Nick Nolte. (McQueen died in 1980). By 1983, the rights were obtained by The Chutzpah Cousins running Cannon. They kept Nolte aboard despite Hepburn’s complaints about him “falling down drunk in every gutter in town.” (She’d  had enough of that  with Spencer TracyI)  Sadly, the result was critically hammered at the ‘84 Cannes festival but Cannon, of course, still ordered  a sequel. However, Kate died in 2003.
  78. Bryan Brown, Tai-Pen, 1985.    Nearly 20 years in the making… MGM cancelled its 1967-68 plans – too expensive.Steve McQueenquit a $10m deal in the 70s when his second $1m payment never turnedup. Roger Moore’s new beard for thehero, Dirk Struan, in 1980, turned up only in The Sea Wolves.
  79. Tom Selleck, Quigley Down Under, 1990.     Close to a go situation with director Buzz Kulik in 1979 until switching to The Hunter, 1980. Quigley was to be next but Steve’s illness buried that.  And him.

  80. Kevin Costner, The Bodyguard, 1992. 
    There is a framed list in the hallway of  auteur Lawrence Kasdan’s office.  Of the 67 people, big and smaller,  who  rejected this script.    It took his agent two years to sell it.  “It was influenced by Kurosawa and written  with McQueen in mind,” Kasdan recalled. “ John Calley  wasn’t able to get McQueen. Then, director John Boorman got involved, a hero of mine. When  I started directing, I had re-written it a lot for various people, plus I wanted to do The Big Chill, so I let it go. Costner read it while we were doing Silverado, before he was a star, and said: ‘I really want to make this.’ Six years later, we both produced it.” Long  before Kasdan was in the movie business, he  adored Steve. “And Kevin, to some extent, had carried on the McQueen tradition. The rest of the movie is not too satisfying to me.”  But then he was also disappointed with his Raiders  of the Lost Ark.


    Director t Norman Jewison called his Thomas Crown star  “the most difficult actor I ever worked with.” .























 Birth year: 1930Death year: 1980Other name: Casting Calls:  80