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Why Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen Couldn’t Stand Each Other

Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen were two big Hollywood stars that starred together in the Western The Magnificent Seven. The clashing of egos on the set of the film caused the two stars not to get along, and there were reported to have been numerous incidents where the two butted heads over the course of production. Join Facts Verse as we explore why Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen couldn’t stand each other.

Yul Brynner Started Out on Broadway in The King and I

Yul Brynner was a Hollywood actor that found a niche for himself in the entertainment industry relatively easily, with his ambiguous looks that made it incredibly hard to tell where the actor hailed from. Yul’s mixed ethnicity made him a standout in Hollywood back in the day, and it made him the perfect choice to play the decidedly exotic role of King Mongkut in The King and I. The King and I originated as a stage musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Early in his career, Yul played the role on Broadway before eventually being given the chance to reprise the role on the big screen by way of the show’s Hollywood adaptation.

Yul Brynner received acclaim for his portrayal of King Mongkut on the stage, and he received even wider acclaim when it came time for him to reprise the role on the screen. When all was said and done, the role of King Mongkut netted Yul both a Tony Award and an Academy Award. Although Yul’s role on the big screen in the Hollywood adaptation of The King and I was a big success, it was only the second film that the actor had ever starred in. He would go on to perform in several more big films over the course of his Hollywood career, including The Ten Commandments and The Magnificent Seven, the prior of which costarred Charlton Heston and the latter of which costarred Steve McQueen.

It is mainly Yul Brynner’s time during the filming of The Magnificent Seven that we’ll be focusing on in this video. In particular, we’ll be taking a look at the way that Yul didn’t get along with aforementioned costar Steve McQueen! As Steve McQueen put it shortly after the film’s notorious filming, he was in his element during the filming of the production while Yul Brynner simply wasn’t. Some might take Steve’s remarks at face value, but there was actually a lot more to the story. It seems that Steve McQueen was intent on making Yul’s life a living hell during the filming of The Magnificent Seven, and it eventually grew to the point where the actor couldn’t take it anymore without putting up a fight.

Yul Brynner Hated Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner made up part of a stunning ensemble cast in The Magnificent Seven, but each of them likely thought that he was the star. Besides Steve and Yul, the film also featured Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, and James Coburn. The film itself was a remake of a Japanese samurai picture by the name of Seven Samurai, which most film historians will argue remains the better film. Still, the American update is plenty beloved in it’s own right. As most have likely already picked up on, The Magnificent Seven changed the setting of Seven Samurai’s plot from Japan to the West, and thus changed the genre from samurai film to Western. The film is considered to be among the best Westerns out there, particularly from around the time.

Although The Magnificent Seven is highly regarded and a big part of the appeal of the film remains it’s stunning ensemble cast, watching the movie becomes quite the different experience once you realize just how much costars Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen couldn’t stand each other over the course of the film’s production. It’s not all that clear why Steve McQueen chose to pick a fight with Yul, though neither of the stars was free from their own personal struggles with their ego. Although it was clearly Steve McQueen that picked the fight, Yul was no innocent victim. Yul was always a bit of diva, even from his earliest days on Broadway. He memorably forced the theater playing the original run of The King and I to build new accommodations for himself and his limousine so that he could drive off from the theater without having to interact with a single one of his fans.

Given that The Magnificent Seven was an ensemble film, many of it’s character didn’t get all that much time to shine. Steve McQueen’s character was originally only supposed to have a handful of lines in the entire film, but Steve ended up throwing a fit and getting the director to give him a good deal more. The director essentially let Steve McQueen take over the set of the film, and the star subsequently made the shoot a decidedly negative experience for many of his costars. Steve seemed to have an especially negative focus on Yul Brynner, and some have suggested the reason was because Steve felt that Yul’s character was given a nicer gun than his was. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

Steve McQueen Abused His Star Status on the Set

Steve McQueen had it his way on the set of The Magnificent Seven. The actor got the director to give him a good deal more lines, and also got to frame shots so that he could take up more of the screen. Still, this wasn’t enough for Steve’s ego. In addition to getting more control and being the focal point of the feature, Steve wanted to make the shoot a nightmare for those around. Steve especially didn’t like Yul Brynner, and there are multiple accounts of Steve doing annoying things to piss Yul off during filming. It seems that Steve would always start fiddling with something whenever it came time for Yul to say a line. Steve would mess with his belt, flip a coin, or rattle around the shotgun shells that he was holding. It got to the point where Yul hired a personal assistant to come onto the set of the film and count how many times Steve attempted to interrupt or distract him during the filming of his key scenes. It’s unclear what exactly Yul did with this information, but it seems as if the assistant certainly had a good number of incidents to keep count of.

Neither Yul Brynner nor Steve McQueen was the tallest of individuals, with Yul being 5’ 6” and Steve being 5’ 8”. This put them in essentially the same height bracket, which was well below the average Hollywood star at the time. However, Steve McQueen apparently considered himself to be an average-sized man and Yul Brynner to be something of a subhuman. During scenes of The Magnificent Seven that were filmed outside, Yul would always carefully construct a small mound of dirt that he could stand on so that the could look as tall as the actors around him. For his part, Steve McQueen would casually kick these small mounds down whenever he came across them out of spite for his fellow actor. Out of all that things that Steve McQueen did to Yul Brynner during the production of The Magnificent Seven, this seems to have been the thing that bothered the actor the most. Eventually, Yul got sick of it and physically confronted Steve McQueen about kicking down his dirt mounds. Steve would later claim that Yul’s actual reasons for assaulting him was because the actor was jealous that Steve knew how to ride horses and shoot guns better than he did.

Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen never managed to set aside their differences, but they did manage to wrap up the filming of The Magnificent Seven, and the film became a huge hit. Both of the stars’ careers were boosted from the success of the film, though neither one really needed the boost. Yul Brynner was already a huge star by the time that he made his appearance in The Magnificent Seven, which was arguably a big part of why Steve McQueen was so intimidated. While Steve McQueen was a tried-and-true action hero, Yul was a fancier film star that had started out on the stage to great acclaim. Steve and Yul butting heads on the set of The Magnificent Seven represent the biggest egos of two worlds colliding, and it was something to behold!

Other Interesting Stories About Yul Brynner

Other interesting things about Yul Brynner include the fact that he was a trapeze artist as a child. During this time period, he suffered an accident that nearly left him unable to move for the rest of his life! The actor was also a raging bisexual who had numerous Hollywood affairs with both his male and female contemporaries. Yul Brynner even got to hook up with Judy Garland and Joan Crawford!

Yul Brynner was notable for his striking bald head, which he personally shaved himself because he thought it made him stand out. Apparently, Yul refused to ever be photographer alongside another bald man, as that would’ve made it seem like he wasn’t special enough. The actor was married four times over the course of his lifetime, and passed away shortly after reprising his classic The King and I role on Broadway. The actor died in October of 1985.

Besides The Magnificent Seven and The King and I, a few other of Yul’s notable films include The Ten Commandments and Anastasia. Yul starred in The Ten Commandments alongside Charlton Heston, and he starred in Anastasia alongside Ingrid Bergman. When Yul found out that he was going to appearing alongside Charlton Heston on the big screen, he set about working out as much as he could so that he could be buffer than the legendary tough man. However, when it came time to star alongside Ingrid Bergman, Yul knew that there was going to be little that he could do to trick the audience into thinking that he was taller than the beautiful actress. Yul didn’t even bother standing on a stool during his scenes with Ingrid, with Yul telling the actress that he intended to show the world what a “big horse” she was.

Though The Magnificent Seven remains a great and beloved Western thanks to the performances of Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner, the two couldn’t stand each other. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Yul Brynner got into a fight with Steve McQueen on the set of The Magnificent Seven, and that he called Ingrid Bergman a big horse during the filming of Anastasia? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

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