He was one of Hollywood's hottest properties in the 1960s. The star of such hits as "The Magnificent Seven," "The Great Escape," "Bullitt" and "The Thomas Crown Affair," Steve McQueen's graceful machismo and laconic air earned him the sobriquet "The King of Cool." He favored playing antiheroes -- and, off-screen, racing cars.
His desire to produce the "ultimate racing movie" -- a feature-length film depicting the 24-hour endurance race in Le Mans, France -- would prove to be professionally torturous for McQueen, who was at a pivotal point in his career. Disillusioned by the film business, he sought to make his own films through his production company, Solar. For "Le Mans" he brought on veteran director John Sturges.
It might have helped had there been a script. Nervous studio executives pressured McQueen for a story, any story. The actor and his favored screenwriter, Alan Trustman, parted ways. After six weeks, Sturges himself quit in frustration. An accident cost driver David Piper his leg. And through it all, McQueen pushed for authenticity before the cameras while also facing crises in his personal life.