Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Steve McQueen Makes Movies the Hard Way

Cleveland Press May 30, 1966

NEW ORLEANS -- Steve McQueen, dripping wet, wolfed down sandwiches from a box lunch. All morning he and Arthur Kennedy, Pat Hingle and more than a dozen extras had been standing waist deep in swamp water.

McQueen and the others are filming location shots for the movie, "Nevada Smith." The locale is the bayou country about 60 miles north of New Orleans, 38 miles outside of Baton Rouge. You travel as far as you can by auto and then another four miles into the bayou by boat to an area they call Petit Amite. It's hot, humid and raining, but they're filming anyway.

"We're dealin' with reality," McQueen explained as he shrugged at the hardships of making movies this way. "This ain't a theatrical thing."

His striped, cotton convict's pants were tied just above his shoes -- "to keep out the leeches," he explained.

As in all of his movies, McQueen is doing his own stunts. "You can't trick it no more when you do a job, right?" he commented.

BESIDES the rigors of the job there is the added matter of working for Henry Hathaway, a director with a reputation for toughness.

"Difficulties I don't mind," McQueen went on. "And Hathaway knows his job. I'd go to hell for him. Maybe if I'd had a father like him I'd of turned out better."

The background of this successful actor is well known by now -- product of a broken home, a wild kid with run-ins with the law, a period of time in California's equivalent of Boy's Town knocking around the world doing odd jobs, the Marine Corps, racing cars and motorcycles and, finally, acting.

He's a product of New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, the Uta Hagen -- Herbert Berghof Dramatic School and the Actors Studio, worked on the stage from 1952 to 1958 when he broke into television, then the movies.

BUT FOR ALL of his acting success he's still proud of his racing ability, mentioned that he's on the cover of a motorcycle magazine which he considers a bigger honor than making the cover of Life.

He did his own cycle stunting in "The Great Escape," explaining matter-of-factly: "What stunt man do you know who could ride that good."

After he completes ''Nevada Smith," McQueen heads for Formosa to film "The Sand Pebbles," plans to take his family along. He's married to actress-singer-dancer Neile Adams. They have two children -- a six-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son.

"SHE'S GOT me on a $30-a-week allowance just because I spent $1200 for a crankshaft for my Ferrari. Thirty bucks a week just ain't right for man in my position.

"Sure I'm takin' the whole family to Formosa. Got the kids enrolled in a school there already.

"I'm in love. I've been married 10 years and I wouldn't leave my old lady for nothin'."