The faith of Steve McQueen, an ‘American Icon’
For many years, just the name Steve McQueen, the highest-paid actor of his era in Hollywood, meant cool. Yet few people know that late in his life, the star of now-legendary films such as BULLITT, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and THE GREAT ESCAPE began a spiritual journey that led to Christian faith.
On Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. local time, McQueen’s little-known story unfolds in movie theaters nationwide for a one-night event, STEVE MCQUEEN: AMERICAN ICON.
“It’s wildly ironic that one of the world’s most well-known men did something important that most people are unaware of,” says Harvest Ministries’ Greg Laurie, event host. ‘STEVE MCQUEEN: AMERICAN ICON’ documents a top star’s exodus from a world of fame and fortune to search for meaning, truth and significance.”
According to a news release, filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin (WOODLAWN) direct STEVE MCQUEEN: AMERICAN ICON, presented by American Icon Films LLC and Fathom Events. Laurie, driving his mint replica of McQueen’s classic Ford Mustang from BULLITT, leads audiences into the little-known heart of his hero. Like McQueen, Laurie also survived a troubled childhood.
The film moves through in-depth interviews with McQueen’s wife, model Barbara Minty McQueen, and debuts her candid photographs from McQueen’s last years. Interviews also feature Academy Award®-winning actor Mel Gibson, renowned stuntman Stan Barrett, celebrated McQueen biographer Marshall Terrill, actors Barbara Leigh and Mel Novak, and the pilots who taught Steve to fly.
In addition to the 110-minute documentary, STEVE MCQUEEN: AMERICAN ICON showcases a message from Laurie and a performance by leading contemporary Christian band MercyMe.
“We couldn’t pass up being part of a film that honors a true American legend and tells a story of a redemption,” MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard said.
Prior to the movie’s release, Greg Laurie released on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 a book called “STEVE MCQUEEN: THE SALVATION OF AN AMERICAN ICON.”
Laurie said that actor’s story “was so fascinating to so many because the mystique of Steve McQueen continues to this day. He added, “Steve McQueen wasn’t cool because he drove the BULLITT car. The BULLITT car was cool because Steve McQueen drove it.” (The actual car was on display over this past weekend at the So-Cal Harvest crusade at Angel Stadium.)
Laurie went onto say, “Notwithstanding all his fame and wealth, a colossal vacuum lived rent-free in his heart, a yawning chasm. A lot of people do not know about McQueen’s hardscrabble beginnings. He was born into the home of an alcoholic mother and a father that left him early in life, he found himself on the wrong side of the law more than once. McQueen chased after every pleasure this planet had to offer.”
McQueen’s search led him through Hollywood, the best and fastest cars money could buy, multiple women, including two divorces, well-documented drug and alcohol abuse, and much more.
“STEVE MCQUEEN: THE SALVATION OF AN AMERICAN ICON” is co-authored with Marshall Terrill — the acclaimed expert on all things Steve McQueen — who has written five other books about the American icon who died of malignant mesothelioma in 1980 at the age of 50.
Together, Laurie and Terrill traveled the country interviewing many of those who knew McQueen best and were with him in his last days.
“In a significant turn toward the end of his life, ironically, just before he found out that he had cancer and while still the top movie star on earth, Steve did something that showed me that he really was ‘the coolest of them all.’ He put his faith in God and became a believer in Jesus Christ,” says Laurie.
While the book charts a virtual road-trip taken by Laurie, everything else in the story is real: From Laurie’s own exact replica 1967 BULLITT Mustang to all the facts, personal stories and interviews of those who knew the American icon best. The journey recounts McQueen’s troubled early years, his international fame, his tireless search for purpose outside of Hollywood, and ultimately his conversion and early death.
“In many ways, our lives ran in parallel,” adds Laurie. “I don’t mean to suggest I am on McQueen’s level of ‘cool’ in any way, but we both had troubled early years, fathers that left home, we were both raised by a single mother and we both got into more than a little trouble. Our stories diverge around the age of twenty, when I came to faith in Jesus and McQueen went to Hollywood.
“Ironically they came back together again when he became a Christian. That’s the life-changing story we uncover through this amazing journey, and it’s a story McQueen, in his own words, worried he’d never be able to share with the world. Now, almost forty years after his step into heaven, he’ll finally get the chance.”
Image courtesy CBS,Wikipedia Commons
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