Tags: Hollywood | steve mcqueen | roles | star | shined | supporting

Steve McQueen in Supporting Roles: 5 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actor

By    |   Monday, 13 April 2015 07:20 PM

Steve McQueen was supposed to play a supporting role in his first major Hollywood film “The Magnificent Seven.” After all, the young TV actor was relatively untested on the big screen while the lineup of stars in the ensemble cast was a who’s who list of big names at the time like Yul Brynner, James Coburn, and Eli Wallach.

But McQueen dove into his role as gunslinger Vin Tanner with a fierce competitiveness, nearly upstaging Brynner who was the top-billed star in the 1960 major production. McQueen’s performance shone as bright as his co-stars, according to Turner Classic Movies.

As Capt. Virgil Hilts, “The Cooler King” in 1963’s “The Great Escape,” McQueen secured his place as a film star.

The classic war movie was McQueen’s second big production with an ensemble cast of big name actors including James Coburn, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, and Charles Bronson. The movie tells the story of American and British prisoners of war in a German prison camp.

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Working as a team, they make several attempts to escape, finally tunneling to freedom. McQueen’s famous motorcycle jump over a barbed-wire fence became part of Hollywood legend.

After “The Great Escape,” McQueen played few if any roles as supporting actor. His leading man status was secured.

Here are three lesser known supporting roles played by McQueen that drew critical notice.

1. Bushy, “Bring Me A Dream,” "The United States Steel Hour" (1956)

Many young actors like Paul Newman, James Dean, and McQueen played their first major dramatic roles in United States Steel Hour live television series, one of the most acclaimed shows in the 1950s Golden Age of Television.

In this episode, McQueen plays Bushy, a troubled youth helped by lead actor John Cassavantes who played a Korean War veteran.

2. Henry Reeves and Anthony Reeves in “Four Hours in White,” "Climax!" (1958)

McQueen played the role of a patient and his twin brother in the medical drama series “Climax!,” a TV medical drama in the 1950s. McQueen, as a patient asked to donate a kidney to his dying twin brother, played both brothers. The series was popular and McQueen’s performance earned small but positive recognition.

3. Bill Ringa, “Never So Few” (1959)

This World War II film, rated by critics as mediocre at best, featured Frank Sinatra in the leading role. The movie was directed by John Sturges, who was struck by McQueen’s acting charisma. The next year, Sturges would cast McQueen in “The Magnificent Seven” and again in the 1963 hit, “The Great Escape.”

The film is a war adventure, with McQueen playing a supporting role as a soldier in Sinatra’s guerilla troop. McQueen’s character, Bill Ringa, was a tough recruit who grew up in the Bronx.

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After “The Great Escape,” Steve McQueen played few if any roles as supporting actor. His leading man status was secured. Here are lesser known supporting roles played by McQueen that drew critical notice.
steve mcqueen, roles, star, shined, supporting
Monday, 13 April 2015 07:20 PM
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