US Biking champion Mert Lawwill reveals how the Hollywood star saved his hand and career. Extract taken from the new book ‘Steve McQueen: The Cooler King’, by Richard Sydenham.
Hollywood star and motorcycle racer Steve McQueen was a lot of things, and much of what is said about him years after his death is true. He was complex, paranoid, rebellious…he did cheat on his wives, he did take drugs and he was a self-confessed male chauvinist.
But those are the negative aspects to McQueen that people like to debate as much now as when he was alive – his bad boy antics are almost mythical. But he could also be generous, loyal, compassionate and truly genuine. Of course, it’s not as interesting for the tabloids to debate these sides to the famous renegade who was Steve McQueen.
New book Steve McQueen: The Cooler King deals with all sides to the actor and has no agenda other than to tell the story of the rugged movie star who famously rode his Triumph Trophy 650cc in The Great Escape, making him a global superstar at the same time.
Another movie that McQueen was involved in, as executive producer and cameo star, was the lesser-known offbeat motorcycling documentary On Any Sunday, released in 1971. It was made by Bruce Brown, the same man who gave us surfing flick The Endless Summer.
While making On Any Sunday, McQueen was one of the most easy-going producers and stars that Brown has ever worked with. And on that production he befriended Mert Lawwill, though they bonded more after the movie…