Steve McQueen gave his last interview to a high school student named Richard Kraus during the filming of The Hunter in 1980. Of the experience, Mr.Kraus says:
"He made me his top priority at the moment. He showed me a lot of respect. I was only a high school student working on the school newspaper, jumping at the opportunity to interview a big star. I had a lot of nerve. I first approached his stuntman, Loren James, to ask if I could interview McQueen and take his picture. Loren said he never lets people take his picture, and he NEVER gives interviews.
I followed McQueen into the food truck (we were alone) and I asked him if I could interview him and take his picture. He said sure, and that I should come back that night when they were filming. Said I should come up with questions to ask him.I rushed home and sat with my family at the dinner table, writing down questions. Then went back to school.
I found him in the middle of shooting a scene. As soon as the scene ended he saw me in the crowd and told everyone he was taking a break from filming. We sat down by the stairs and I proceeded to ask him some questions. The wild part of this was, the crew formed a circle around us, watching the interview, because they knew he never gave interviews. It really did become a sort of historical "group interview."
When the interview was over and I was ready to leave, he asked if he could add more to it. I couldn't believe I was about to leave without asking him if he had anything more to say, and in every interview I've done since I've made sure to include that question at the end. He put his arm around me and walked me down the dark hallway, away from everyone else, and talked to me about the importance of living life and learning. It really was a very special moment I'll never forget. He could speak to any reporter in the world and get his word out to millions of people, but he chose to talk to a high school student."
The interview was published in Richard Karaus' high school newspaper (The Federalist), UCLA's Daily Bruin, and in Portrait of an American Rebel.
**Special thanks to Richard Kraus for sending me the above details on his interview with Steve McQueen!**
And here is the interview...
KRAUS: What was your first movie?
MCQUEEN: (Before McQueen could respond, one of the crew yelled out, "The Blob." Steve was slightly embarrassed.) Let's not talk about that. I don't want to talk about that movie. Next question.
KRAUS: Do you have any plans in the near future for any more movies?
MCQUEEN: That's a big question mark. When I finish this film I'd like to sit down and enjoy breakfast for once and then see from there. I'd like to make my next picture an action- adventure film. I enjoy variety. I liked Love with the Proper Stranger, which was a comedy. I had fun making The Sand Pebbles, which was mainly drama, and also Bullitt, an action film. So you see, I like different types of roles. The first film I was in was The Blob . . . no, I wasn't the blob. I played the part of a young boy. This was when I was about twenty-five. I was a late bloomer in the acting world.
KRAUS: What about your background?
MCQUEEN: A lot of stuff I got into trouble for when I was a kid, people wouldn't even blink at today. I got into trouble with robbery and booze, but not really drugs, because they weren't considered bad at the time.
KRAUS: Does being famous disrupt your private life?
MCQUEEN: Yes, it does. The important thing is to have your identity, but never blow your obscurity. That's the key to the kingdom, but the money makes me feel better.
KRAUS: You have not been in the public eye for the past few years, but even when you did make movies, you didn't give any interviews. What was the reason for your silence?
MCQUEEN: For one thing, I don't have anything to say. Also, I think the press is full of shit. But I do have a certain respect for youth, and that's why I agreed to do this interview for your paper.
KRAUS: When was the last time you were interviewed?
MCQUEEN: How long is a decade? (Someone blurts out ten years.) Then it's been ten years. I don't even remember who interviewed me.
KRAUS: What advice do you have for young people today who want to get into acting?
MCQUEEN: It's very expensive to act, in both time and money. I don't advise going into acting at all. I'm one of the lucky ones. But if you decide to go into acting, be prepared to give all else up and live a straight life. That includes eating and sleeping right. You should see some of life so that you can peel life and put it to use in your acting. Learning stuff on the streets helped my acting a lot. I'm not a "studied actor." You've got to be prepared to be rejected five times a day. That's where the importance of family comes in. The family gives you your rock strength.
KRAUS: Who were some of your idols when you were a teenager?
MCQUEEN: Well, I don't think you'd remember any of my idols.
KRAUS: But the teachers read our paper, also.
MCQUEEN: But this isn't for the teachers. It's for the students.
Photo by Richard Kraus