Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Steve McQueen: A Biography

In today's excerpt from Delanceyplace - Steve McQueen, once the highest-paid actor in the world, whose talents seared the screen in such movies as Bullitt, The Great Escape, The Sand Pebbles, The Magnificent Seven, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Getaway, Papillon, and The Towering Inferno:

"Terrence Steven McQueen was the product of a one-night stand that stretched into a year and six months of misery between Terrence William McQueen, a handsome, philandering stunt pilot for a traveling circus, and Jullian Craw­ford, a teenage alcoholic prostitute. Terrence William left Jullian and Steven for good six months after the boy was born. Unable to cope with single mother- hood, Jullian soon abandoned Steven. As casually as she changed clothes (or took them off), Jullian passed him off to her uncle, the wealthy but emotionally distant Claude Thomson.
"These early traumatic events helped shape the fragile, needy psyche that for the rest of Steve McQueen's life would bubble just beneath the deceptively smooth surface of his very good-looking exterior. Physically beautiful but emotionally insecure, this shy and withdrawn little boy would grow up to become an interna­tional movie superstar. He would be loved by millions from afar, but unable to handle intimate commitment and often lash out at those women who tried to love him in real life.

"His emotional insecurity left him extremely sensitive and wary, a combination that would aid him enormously in his early days as an actor, and lead to his powerful attraction to and essential distrust of females - a pattern that began in childhood with his mother and continued into adult life with the three women he made his wives. Marriage to Steve meant swimming in a pool of emotional turmoil. The promise of commitment tempted him, but the fear of abandon- ment compelled him to run away. He was a lover and a fighter whose emotions were always stoked to the peak of their heat.

"Film directors favor those actors who can take their consider­able inner turmoil and use it to infuse the characters they play in the movies with a heightened and compelling sense of drama. It is what is called talent in Holly- wood, and those who have it, despite the high personal price they pay, are highly coveted.

"Steve McQueen had it. His special, unique talent was his abil­ity to balance his inner heat (his emotional rage, his distrust of older authority figures, and his defiance of them) and his cautious, careful, catlike wariness that so beautifully translated to the screen as the ultimate in cool."
Steve McQueen: A Biography
by Marc Eliot by Crown Archetype

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

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