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He Utterly Hated Steve McQueen, Now We Know the Reason Why

Steve McQueen, the undeniable king of cool in the ’60s, flourished on the silver screen with legendary performances in films. Those are “The Great Escape”, “Bullitt”, and “The Thomas Crown Affair”. Yet, despite his superstardom and countless cinematic achievements, not everyone in the Hollywood circle was a fan. 

One notable figure who had a fervent dislike for McQueen was none other than Paul Newman. Another behemoth of the entertainment world who shone brightest in the 1960s and 70s. With iconic roles in movies such as “The Hustler” and “Cool Hand Luke”. The two engaged in a fiery feud that lasted for years. It’s a testament to the fiery personalities and rivalries that brewed in the golden era of cinema.

But Newman wasn’t alone in his disdain for McQueen. The actor is at the center of disputes with other contemporaries during his career peak in the ’60s and ’70s. Yul Brynner, the powerful force behind classics like “The King and I”. James Garner, known for his roles in “The Rockford Files” and “The Great Escape”. Also, he’s famous for having a contentious relationship with McQueen. 

Unveiling The Layers Of Tension

We will attempt to demystify the past in this facts-packed video. We will unveil the layers of tension and uncover why McQueen was somewhat of a pariah among his fellow stars. Some of whom we have sadly lost, including Newman and Brynner. 

Join us as we explore the intense rivalries and feuds that painted a more complex picture of the man who seemed to have it all. Let’s discover the stories that have been hidden behind the glamour of Hollywood, and find out why Steve McQueen was not the favorite of several of his contemporaries.

Facts Verse Presents: He Utterly Hated Steve McQueen, Now We Know the Reason Why

Paul Newman 

In the dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood during the 1960s and 70s. Two powerhouse stars embroiled in a heated feud that stretched both on and off the movie sets. Both Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. The root of their animosity was deeply ingrained. Many asserted that it was primarily McQueen who harbored resentment towards Newman.

Their rivalry wasn’t just confined to the realms of acting. It extended to the racetracks as well, an arena where both stars exhibited considerable skill. Dick Barbour, the head of Barbour Motorsports trained both actors. Newman was methodical and disciplined in honing his racing skills. He put in the effort to excel, working diligently to perfect his performance on the track. McQueen, on the other hand, seemed to have a natural knack for racing. He picked up the subtleties of driving with an ease that made it seem almost effortless. Natural talent bred bitterness in McQueen. He couldn’t stand the fact that Newman was just as competent on the racetrack. McQueen’s belief that he was the superior driver. The two never had the chance to face each other in an official race. Unanswering the question of who is the better racer.

A Professional Relationship

Their professional relationship became further strained when opportunities arose for them to work together on the big screen. The chance came to co-star in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”. McQueen couldn’t swallow the idea of sharing the limelight with Newman, especially when he wasn’t given top billing. Newman is having the bigger name at the time, McQueen felt he deserved the starring role. It leads to him turning down the offer. The role eventually went to Robert Redford, although Warren Beatty and Marlon Brando were also considered.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated incident. During the production of “The Towering Inferno”, the only film where they appear together, McQueen couldn’t remove his competitive spirit. He’s obsessed with being the star, to the point of counting the lines he had in scenes compared to Newman. If he found that he had fewer lines, it wouldn’t be long before complaints were aired. A. E. Hotchner, a lifelong friend of Newman and a well-known writer. He once recalled Newman referring to McQueen as a “chicken shit” due to his petty grievances.

James Garner 

James Garner, known as one of the most affable and easy-going figures in Hollywood. He’s unable to hold back his criticism when it comes to Steve McQueen. His co-star in the iconic World War II prison drama, “The Great Escape“. Garner, who portrayed Hendley opposite McQueen’s Hilts. He didn’t hesitate to label McQueen as a nuisance on set. We like him more to a poser cultivating a macho man image than a true actor. According to Garner, McQueen lacked the depth and versatility that other actors of the era possessed. He’s letting his larger-than-life persona seep into every role he portrayed, which for Garner was the “kiss of death”.

McQueen’s behavior on the sets was frequently disruptive, often culminating in outright tantrums. McQueen was prepared to abandon the project due to dissatisfaction with his role. It is during the filming of “The Great Escape”. Feeling that his character wasn’t heroic enough and found the assigned actions corny, McQueen voiced his displeasure vehemently. The situation became so untenable that the director even considered restructuring the film. It is to make Garner the lead, to prevent McQueen from walking off the set.

Attempting To Salvage The Situation

Garner, attempting to salvage the situation, initiated a conversation with McQueen to understand the root of the problem. It was clear that McQueen harbored reservations about his character’s trajectory in the script. The feeling lacked the heroic touch he desired. McQueen’s stubborn nature was apparent, but concessions were made to accommodate his wishes. The director introduced motorcycle stunts and altered McQueen’s character arc to pacify him. Transforming him into a figure who reconnoiters the countryside. He allows himself to be recaptured to share vital information with others.

Despite these tumultuous moments on set, Garner and McQueen managed to maintain a friendship, with Garner’s minimal ego playing a significant role in keeping their relationship cordial. This level of tolerance wasn’t exhibited by many other Hollywood icons who found themselves in McQueen’s crosshairs. 

Yul Brynner 

A particularly turbulent relationship marked the professional interactions between Steve McQueen and the magnanimous Yul Brynner, a star who dominated the screen in the ’50s and ’60s with performances in epic films like “The King and I” and “The Ten Commandments”. This period of classic entertainment saw Brynner at the peak of his career, a position that sometimes put him at odds with other emerging talents.

The feud between McQueen and Brynner unfolded most publicly on the set of the legendary Western film, “The Magnificent Seven” (1960), where McQueen was cast alongside Brynner. It was well known that Brynner, who had already established himself as a powerhouse actor, did not take kindly to McQueen’s attempts to steal the limelight during scenes they shared. McQueen, on the other hand, was not content with being overshadowed by Brynner and sought ways to subtly draw the audience’s attention towards himself, often improvising actions to distract viewers from Brynner’s performance. 

This constant jostling for attention fostered a simmering rivalry that seemed to boil over with each passing day. The tension escalated to such an extent that Brynner reportedly prohibited McQueen from making any unscripted moves during their shared scenes, a restriction that did little to curb McQueen’s spirited attempts to make his presence felt more prominently on screen. 

Attempts To One-Up Brynner

Adding fuel to the fire were rumors about McQueen’s deliberate attempts to one-up Brynner, which included small gestures like removing his hat to appear taller than Brynner in scenes where they appeared together. These somewhat petty attempts to assert dominance only served to further strain their relationship. 

Despite their highly professional status, the ongoing battle of egos made the film set a ground for palpable tension, creating a backdrop of constant competition between two stars vying for the spotlight. While their on-screen chemistry contributed to the making of a classic, off-screen, their inability to see eye to eye became as legendary as their individual careers.

Michale Fassbender 

In Hollywood, partnerships between directors and actors often shape the trajectory of cinematic history. Such is the case with the remarkable alliance that blossomed between Michael Fassbender and filmmaker Steve McQueen. Their collaboration, akin to the legendary bonds formed between Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro or Sidney Lumet and Al Pacino, wasn’t without its initial hurdles. In fact, their initial encounter could be described as nothing short of rocky. 

In the early stages of their professional relationship, McQueen had a somewhat strained perception of Fassbender. During their initial meeting, which revolved around the casting for McQueen’s directorial debut “Hunger” (2008), McQueen found Fassbender to be somewhat of a “pain”. There was a certain level of cockiness that Fassbender exuded, leaving McQueen questioning the actor’s commitment and intentions. Fassbender seemed to guard a portion of himself, perhaps a tactic cultivated from years of facing rejection in the industry.

Fassbender In A Different Light

However, their story took a turn when McQueen decided to give Fassbender another chance to audition for a lead role in the movie. During the subsequent audition, Fassbender managed to reveal a new dimension of his personality, one that aligned with McQueen’s vision for the character of Bobby Sands. This shift was not only pivotal for the movie but also marked the beginning of a fruitful partnership that would significantly influence both of their careers.

As their collaboration unfolded, McQueen began to regard Fassbender in a different light, recognizing him as a remarkable talent who dared to tread where others hesitated. Fassbender’s nuanced approach to his roles, characterized by a willingness to showcase vulnerability and embrace both masculine and feminine aspects, became his hallmark. This distinctive approach allowed him to delve into complex characters with depth and authenticity, setting him apart from his contemporaries.

Their partnership ultimately blossomed into a symbiotic relationship, marked by a deep mutual respect and understanding. Over time, Fassbender became an instrumental figure in McQueen’s cinematic ventures, delivering performances that earned critical acclaim and left an indelible mark on the industry. 

McQueen Made Enemies Seemingly Everywhere

Even with a stellar reputation in the audience’s eyes, Steve McQueen’s demeanor, as we’ve already established, didn’t always sit well with many of his peers in the industry. In the dazzling limelight of Hollywood, McQueen was seen as more of a movie star than a true actor, often embroiled in disagreements and conflicts on the sets of some of his biggest projects including movies like “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape”.

Apart from his legendary feuds with prominent figures like Yul Brynner, several other A-listers found themselves harboring long-standing resentments against McQueen. His relentless pursuit of portraying a macho image on-screen was often viewed as a hindrance to the collaborative atmosphere that typically characterizes movie sets.

His character’s constant transformation into a more heroic figure was noted as a recurring issue. During the filming of “The Great Escape”, he reportedly threw a tantrum over his role, demanding changes to the character’s trajectory to depict him more heroically. This issue escalated to the point where the director considered restructuring the entire film, shifting the spotlight to another character. McQueen’s grievances with his role stemmed from a perceived lack of heroism in his character, coupled with dissatisfaction with certain scenes which he labelled as “corny”.

McQueen’s Behavior

However, it wasn’t just his on-screen portrayals that drew the ire of his co-stars. McQueen’s behavior on set is disruptive. His insistence on tweaking his roles and the tantrums that followed threatened to dismantle the harmony typically found on sets, leading to frequent disruptions and delays.

Despite being adored by millions, McQueen’s relationships with his fellow actors remained complex, characterized by a series of disagreements and differences in creative visions. This intriguing glimpse into the backstage dynamics of the golden era of Hollywood reveals a facet of McQueen’s personality that remained largely hidden from the public eye, underscoring the depth and diversity of experiences and interactions in the classic entertainment world.

As we wrap up this revealing glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of Steve McQueen, we’re eager to hear your thoughts. What’s your take on McQueen’s fiery personality and the reported feuds with other stars; do they alter your perception of him or add a layer of intrigue to his star-studded career? Let us know in the comments section down below!

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