Steve McQueen Once Turned Down Starring a Western Classic: Here’s Why

by Joe Rutland
steve-mcqueen-once-turned-down-starring-western-classic-heres-why

Steve McQueen was the erstwhile “King of Cool” on the movie screens. Why, though, did he turn down a role in a Western classic?

McQueen, who had a starring role in TV’s Wanted: Dead or Alive, did have an opportunity to be in the cast for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He, though, chose against appearing. We turn to the site Slash Film for more details.

First off, his career was going upward when McQueen read the script for William Goldman’s movie.

Second, Paul Newman happened to be reading for the lead role. Newman had the starring role in the Rocky Graziano boxing biopic Somebody Up There Likes Me. McQueen had a small bit part in the movie. Well, Steve McQueen didn’t want to be under Newman again.

Steve McQueen Had Troubled Life, Which Was Different From Paul Newman

Third, McQueen and Newman had different lives. For McQueen, he was troubled from a youth filled with abuse and getting into trouble as an adult. Newman married Joanne Woodward, his second wife, for 50 years. McQueen was a guy who had numerous marriages and some affairs. Two different people.

Steve McQueen was edgy; Newman was laidback. It turns out that Newman was reading for the lead part in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Well, Steve wanted top billing and the same number of lines as Newman. Paul heard this and reportedly called Steve a “chicken sh*t.”

A solution was offered by Daryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox. Zanuck offered half of the movie prints with Newman’s name first, while the other half had McQueen’s name.

Steve didn’t like it and walked away. So, Robert Redford stepped in and got that role. It turns out the Redford-Newman team worked so well that it carried over into movies like The Sting.

McQueen just saw his career go up and down a bit. Still, he wanted the same type of deal on the Irwin Allen disaster movie The Towering Inferno. So, McQueen had his name in the bottom left-hand corner and Newman in the top-right location.

McQueen Only Worked With Legend Clint Eastwood In 1959 Movie

Steve McQueen worked with the legendary Clint Eastwood in just one movie. They appeared in the 1959 flick Human Interest Story.

This movie was directed by Alfred Hitchcock as part of the TV Alfred Hitchcock Presents series. It follows Bill Everett, played by McQueen, who interviews a man named Howard Wilcox, played by Arthur Hill. Why? He claims to be a Martian.

Everett listens to Wilcox explain how he one day woke up on Mars to find everyone had disappeared. He then made a trip to Earth and found himself in the human body he was currently in at that time.

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