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Michael Munn
Michael Munn
Back in September 1970, Michael Munn was a young man just short of his 18th birthday, and working in the publicity department of Cinerama Films. Steve McQueen was 40 years old, in the middle of a marriage break down, and in France making a film that was falling apart around him.
Le Mans, his lifelong dream project, under the pressure of huge budget cuts, rewrites, and the loss of it's director, John Sturges, due to creative differences with McQueen, was becoming the film nightmare of his life.

At this time, in the midst of McQueen's despair, in his new biography Living on the Edge, Munn tells of their chance meeting at director Sam Peckinpah's house in Cornwall, England. A meeting that lead to a four day road trip on the back of Steve's bike.

But Munn's story of knowing Steve is not without controversy, as the accounts of key people in both Steve's and Sam Peckinpah's lives cast a serious shadow of doubt over his claims.
In this exclusive interview Michael talks to McQueenOnline about his four day trip with Steve, his background
in the film industry, his relationships with other stars, and responds to criticisms of the authenticity of his accounts.

MO: Before meeting Steve, would you have called yourself a fan?

MM: I wasn't a fan of his, but I was a huge fan of The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven. I love the character of Hilts which for me is the standout character in the film. I didn't make a point of seeing a film just because Steve McQueen was in it., but I always liked what he did and I certainly recognise that he was a really fine screen actor, and he was a real star. He had tremendous charisma and now that I know more about screen acting techniques than I did when I was a kid in the 60s, I know just how brilliant he was. I'm more of a fan now because I can turn on a Steve McQueen film and enjoy seeing what he does as an actor.

MO: Did you have any pre conceived notions of Steve prior to meeting him? Which ones were validated by your time together, and which ones were wrong?

MM: I was very young and really had no preconceived ideas about him. I had met quite a few film stars and knew they were nothing like their screen persona. Except for John Wayne. My first impression of Steve was that he was a deeply depressed man. There were no quips, barely a smile, and he looked a physical and emotional wreck. I was too young, I think, to really understand all that and just knew that he wasn't anything like he had been in The Great Escape.

Having said that, I watched him one time just messing around on the motor bike as he tried to show me what he could do. He did wheelies, and he made the back wheel skid around. There's a scene in The Great Escape where he is doing all that kind of thing, when he's on the motorbike and he drives up to a small lonely old building, and he looks around, but he doesn't get off the bike to look around. He skids that bike about but not all over the place. It's very controlled, and when I watch that, I think, yep, that's Steve. That's what brought him alive. I saw him doing that kind of thing.

Since writing the book, I've realised that the relationship we had at that time was a big brother/little brother one. He treated me like a kid brother, and he was the ideal big brother looking out for his kid brother.

MO: As the readers will discover, your book details that you spent four days with Steve McQueen in September 1970, then met with him again in 1974 and 1977. Last speaking to him via phone in 1980. Can you tell us what inspired you to write the book all these years later?

MM: It was on my mind that Steve would have been eighty years old this year had he lived, and it is thirty years since he died. He died when he was fifty, and I am fifty-seven, and several years ago I had a heart attack which is the kind of event that makes you think about the saying, there but for the grace of God go I, and all these things kept bringing Steve to mind.

I have written biographies in a more personal way since the heart attack because I realised that my experiences with these people are as valid and interesting as anyone else's, so my books are personal, sort of biographical memoirs. I felt that it was a good time to write that kind of book about Steve McQueen. It comes with a bit of a price because I have to reveal things about myself that I would otherwise keep to myself. But it is important that if I am writing about things that have been told to me, I need to explain why and how that came about. It means that I can use the perceptions of those who knew and worked with Steve along with my own and try and create a full rounded portrait. There are many who knew Steve far better than I, but the extraordinary circumstances of my time with him make my memories just as valid as for instance those of James Coburn or Don Gordon.

MO: You worked in the publicity department of the Cinerama film company in 1970. Can you tell us more about how that led you to being at Sam Peckinpah's house the day Steve arrived there?

MM: I worked for Cinerama Releasing in a building owned by British Lion which had its own preview theatre, and when I discovered Sam Peckinpah was in there viewing footage of English actors he was considering for Straw Dogs, I gate crashed and introduced myself. I always wanted to meet directors more than actors. He told me he was going to be filming in Cornwall and I tried to persuade him to let me join him for a short period of time to observe him at work. He didn't want me around for actual filming, but he agreed I could go down during pre-production and arranged with my boss to give me a week off. I don't know if at that point Cinerama was set to distribute Straw Dogs but I suspect it was, so there was a loose professional connection, but it was really a favour.

MO: Can you tell me more about your relationship with Sam Peckinpah and how that lead to your four day road trip with Steve?

MM: I never really had anything like a relationship with Peckinpah. I arrived in Penzance on Sunday, checked into a B&B, went to his house, and then we went out drinking in the evening. It didn't take much to get me drunk and I left him so i could sleep it off in my bed. I don't know when it occurred to Peckinpah, but he came to the conclusion he didn't really want me around at all, and when Steve turned up the next morning, also unwanted and very depressed, looking for a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on, Peckinpah had a sudden brainwave. Under the influence the night before, I had told Sam a few tales of when I got mixed up with gangsters during my early teens, and so Sam, knowing that Steve would do anything to help a young person in trouble, told him I was a juvenile delinquent, and so off I went with Steve for four days to be rehabilitated, and when we got back on Friday it was time for me to go home. Peckinpah had got rid of both Steve and me in one go.

I didn't know the trick Sam had played until several years later when I went to cover filming of Cross of Iron in Yugoslavia - I was a journalist then - that Peckinpah told me what he had told Steve.

So any relationship that I might have had with Sam Peckinpah sadly never took off.

MO: Can you tell me about the relationship (as you perceived it) between Steve and Sam while they were in each other's company at that time?

MM: I thought they were old friends. Steve must have thought so. Peckinpah certainly didn't say or do anything to suggest that he really didn't want Steve around, but as I found out years later, he didn't want Steve there because Sam just wasn't interested in Steve's problems. They had worked together at the start of Cincinnati Kid, but when Peckinpah was fired he thought Steve should have backed him, but Steve stayed out of it and I think Peckinpah always felt Steve had betrayed him. He didn't consider he and Steve were bosom buddies. But when they later made Junior Bonner there was a lot of respect between actor and director, and I'd say that they liked each other during that time. That continued through The Getaway but then there was the problem about who had approval of the final cut. Peckinpah thought he should have it, but Steve won that fight, and that must have soured their friendship. Then, when Peckinpah cast Ali MacGraw in Convoy, Steve blamed Sam for taking her away from him and and from then on there was no love lost between them as far as I know. They were both men of extreme emotions and so neither was ever going to give way to the other.
Steve in 'Le Mans'MO: At the time you were with Steve, his dream project, Le Mans, was falling apart. Did he talk to you much about the film?

MM: I think everything he said about the film is in the book. I probably learnt more about that movie from John Sturges. When I met Steve he hadn't finished making Le Mans and at that time he felt like it was a dream turned into a nightmare. I think the problem Steve had when it came to producing films is that he really just wasn't a good a producer as he was an actor. I would have loved to have seen what he could have done had he just gone ahead and directed a whole movie, such as Tom Horn. He wanted to rival Clint Eastwood as an actor who directed, but there were some bizarre union rules that prevented him from doing that because he wanted to replace the original director and do the job himself. He should have just set out to direct Tom Horn himself and then we would all know, and he would have known, if he had a talent for doing that, although he might not have had the strength and energy. His last batch of movies, An Enemy of the People, Tom Horn and The Hunter, all suffered because the choice of directors were not good. We'll never know, and another thing we can never know is whether Le Mans could have been a great picture if John Sturges had made the film his way.
When Steve was essentially the producer of a film, he was always going to lock horns with the director, as he did with Sam Peckinpah over the final outcome of The Getaway. Clint Eastwood solved that problem by directing himself in virtually everything, and I think Steve really wanted to show that he was as good a film maker, and even better, than Eastwood. He was always competing, and I suppose you could argue that's what made him so good, because as an actor he wanted not to just be better than everyone else but to be better than he would be if he didn't make the extra effort. Acting was his great talent. I don't think being a film maker was, and that's ultimately what Le Mans demonstrated.

MO: You write that safety problems were occurring on the set of Le Mans, because the director was rushing things and endangering the drivers. For instance, you write that Haig Alltounian wanted the tires properly warmed up before starting for the day, but that Katzin didn't give them enough time to do so. Can you expand on this?

MM: I don't know anything about the technical aspects of racing cars so I can't comment on any that side of things. The director was under pressure to get the film finished. There are a lot of examples of films where corners were cut to get the picture finished. It's common practise. I don't know how dangerous it was for the drivers, but anything that could be termed as a "stunt" is potentially dangerous, even when the greatest care is taken. The film ended up being made in a state of near panic, and for Steve it was a terrible end to his dream project which he had lost all control over. I don't know if his vision for the film could ever have been achieved, and if it was, if it would have been any good. As it was, Le Mans was not what Steve wanted or what John Sturges, who was, after all, the original director who worked with Steve for many years on the project, thought it could be.
MO: One of the strong and original aspects of the book is all the interviews and conversations you did/had with other actors and directors who knew Steve. For me this is the first time reading many of these comments. Were any of these McQueen specific interviews you did previously published, in Photoplay or other magazines?

MM: I don't recall using much material related to Steve McQueen in any articles I wrote prior to his death. I remember that when I interviewed Don Gordon in his trailer on a London street when he was making The Omen III, we obviously talked a bit about Steve, but mostly it was about ghostly happenings so the feature I wrote was more to do with all that, but there was mention of his friendship with Steve in the piece.

Many of the interviews I did after Steve died was for a major tribute I was writing, but in the end my editor, for reasons best known to himself, decided to scrub it and it was drastically edited so none of the interviews were included, which means that all those interviews were never published until this book.

MO: One thing that stands out from all the other people you quote, is that you seem to have had particularly intimate conversations with James Coburn regarding Steve. Can you tell me about your relationship with Coburn?
Michael Munn
MM: I met James Coburn when he stopped off in London some time in 1970 either on his way to Italy or Spain to film A Fistful of Dynamite, then called Duck, You Sucker, or he was about to head to Ireland to film scenes there. I came across him at a small social event, and when he told me he was making the new Sergio Leone film, I was pretty much beside myself because I loved the Dollars films and I was about the only person in the UK who thought Once Upon a Time in the West was a masterpiece. Jim obviously took a shine to me - I think I was a nice kid back then, everyone wanted to be my mother or father - and he liked my story about going for a four day road trip with Steve McQueen, and he arranged for me to go to Dublin to see some of the Irish scenes being filmed, and I was thrilled to meet Sergio Leone who I think is the greatest director of all time.

That began a nice relationship I had with Jim Coburn, and we'd meet up from time to time, sometimes informally, sometimes to do an interview.

Years later when I was unable to get to interview Charles Bronson who was making one of the Death Wish films in London, I called Jim and asked if he would speak to Coburn, which he did, telling him all I wanted to do was talk to him about working with Sergio Leone, and I think Jim told Coburn that I thought Once Upon a Time in the West was one of the greatest westerns of all time - Coburn changed his mind and I spent a day with him.

So Jim was someone I considered a friend. We spent one evening somewhere around 1975-ish having a drink and talking about Steve and the films Jim had made with him, and again after Steve died.

MO: Your second meeting with Steve (in 1974) was at Oliver Reed's home. Can you tell us how you and Reed became friends?

MM: Jack Wild and I set up a profit share theatre company in 1974. It was really very small, and we only performed in halls. Oli came to see one of the plays and was impressed and wanted to be in one. That filled me with dread because Reed was a heavy drinker and so was Jack who was usually too drunk to be of any help to me. To talk it over, Oli invited Jack and me to his house in Surrey and there was Steve McQueen who was his guest. They were discussing a possible film together which I think must have been An Enemy of the People. Charlton Heston had recommended Reed to Steve. Anyway, that little adventure is in the book.

Reed did do a play for us, A Christmas Carol, and he played Scrooge. I thought he would be a nightmare because of the booze. Actually, he wasn't there during most of rehearsal because he was away filming, and when he finally arrived, I blocked him in, he knew his lines, he stayed sober, and we played a week in some drafty hall. None of us, that is Jack, Oli and I, made any money from it. We gave all our profits to the cast and crew.

I met Oli on various film sets, usually because I was there to do interviews. I think most of the relationships I had with actors were due to the fact that I was always turning up on film sets, and because I was never a career journalist, I just wanted to mix with them, talk about movies, or anything else, and have a good time.
Charlton Heston BioMO: You write that Charlton Heston recommended Oliver Reed to Steve for a film part, and that was the reason for Steve's visit to Reed's home. Can you share how you learned that?

MM:Heston told me about this over lunch when he was in London in 1987 to do A Man For all Seasons on stage. I was trying to make a career as an actor and invited him to lunch to get some advice or even a job. As a journalist, I had interviewed him a number of times since 1976, and although I wouldn't say we were friends, we were acquainted. Because of my association with Olivier, and also because I had directed some plays, by then he regarded me as a fellow pro, although I'm sure he knew I was small fry compared to him, and in the end he paid for lunch which was just as well as I was broke. I told him that I had directed Reed in a play, and how I saw Steve McQueen at Oli's house, and Heston said that he had been approached by Steve to be in An Enemy of the People. Heston considered the proposal and thought Steve was very brave attempting to do Ibsen, and he admired that, but he wasn't available and recommended Oliver Reed whom he considered a very fine actor.

MO: Most reports have Steve not even considering doing An Enemy of the People before 1976. So your report that you think he was working on it as early as 1974 is a new revelation on the history of that film...
MM: Although Steve didn't make his project to do Ibsen widely known at first, he was working on the idea far in advance of actually making it, as many film makers do. What he wanted to do most of all was retire, but he had to fulfil his obligation to First Artists, so he hit on the idea of doing something that on one hand might be creatively challenging for him and he wanted to achieve something that was an artistic accomplishment before retiring, but it was also a ploy because he hoped that First Artists would consider it such a non commercial project that they would cancel his contract, and then he'd be free to retire immediately.

When First Artists held him to his contract, he went ahead with An Enemy of the People, and he was determined that it would be something he could be proud of. He told me, ĎIíve never been so scared in my life. Iím not making this movie because Iím brave but because Iím scared. Iím doing it to prove something to me. And I can tell you now, it wonít take a dime, and I donít care.í

MO: You state that Steve visited you while passing through the UK in 1977. Can you tell me more about that? How did you manage to connect up?

MM: That meeting was a surprise. He had virtually disappeared from public view and seemed to have virtually retired from movies, which of course was his plan. He was always planning to retire. But he was also planning his Ibsen film and was either on his way to Sweden or on his way back when he stopped in London and got in touch with me when I was at Photoplay through a PR company. He didn't want to do an interview and as I said, I was never a career journalist so couldn't care less about doing an interview, but I was delighted to see him again, although I was shocked to see how much heavier he was and to see his hair long and a big grey beard.

I honestly can't say what made him want to see me. He may well have been looking up all his friends in London and I am both surprised and honoured that I should be on that list. He was a much changed man. He seemed a lot calmer, and he talked about trying to find some kind of spiritual meaning to life which I was also doing at that time, and we talked a lot about religion. He had been interested in the Eastern philosophies that Jim Coburn practised, and I was more into traditional Christianity. He was also thinking more along those lines, and I think that was another bond we had. We'd certainly bonded on that motorbike back in 1970, and this was something more. When we talked for the last time in 1980 by telephone, at a house rented by Yul Brynner of all people, we both believed we had found what we sought, and that allowed him to tell me he was dying. That, I think, sort of brought us full circle in our relationship.

MM: Can I take this importunity to say something about things written about me in Private Eye regarding my relationship with Steve. I knew that the magazine had written something unkind about me, both last year about my Niven book, and recently about the McQueen book. I don't read articles about me or reviews, and I only discovered what Private Eye had basically said by looking on Wikipedia. Last year they wrote that I had claimed Niven had given me a deathbed confession and suggested I was making it all up. I didn't write any such thing and they had clearly not read the book, and now they apparently suggest that I never knew Steve McQueen. I suspect again they haven't read the book, but then, their job is to belittle people in the news. My background in the film business and film journalism from 1969 to around the mid 80s is a matter of record, and I am also an actor and director (of very modest repute) - my Equity card confirms that - and in all that time it would have been impossible not to have formed relationships with movie stars and directors and other creative people.

MO: I'm glad you brought up the Private Eye issue. It was pointed out to me by another fan that the Niven book was given some bad press in a few papers, and sadly a few publications have expressed their doubts regarding the validity of Steve McQueen: Living on the Edge. I felt I had to do due diligence before putting this interview online and so I contacted a few people who were close to McQueen and Peckinpah at the time and throughout their lives, to get their opinion on a few key points in your book. I'd like to mention what transpired there and get your feedback to the following four points.

1) Robert Relyea, executive producer on Le Mans (he remained throughout filming till completion) and Steve's then partner in Solar Productions, believes that the only time Steve left the set for more than a few days was when he went with then wife Neile to Morocco during the 2 week forced shutdown in August. But your meeting took place in September...

MM: The Morocco vacation was an attempt to salvage his marriage after he became violent to Neile, and it was some time after that Neile took the two children back to Los Angeles. It was after all that, in September, when Steve was on his own and the pressure of the film was mounting, that he took a little time off on his own. I know from years of interviewing actors, directors, writers and the like that very often two people will give conflicting accounts of the same event, or one recalls one event and another has no memory of it. This is important to point out because very often there is the feeling among people who knew very public figures - ie., actors, singers - that they are the the main authorities on the subject. One actor who I won't name told stories about Steve that sounded to me like just good stories. Also, these events occurred forty years ago, and all I can say is, not everyone remembers absolutely everything.

MO: 2) Katie Haber, Peckinpah's production assistant on most of his films, including Straw Dogs, expressed strong surprise to me when I asked her about the September meeting at the house in Penzance, Cornwall. She said that Sam never moved into the Cornwall house until January 1971, and that during September 1970 Sam was living in Eaton Mews, London. She said she was living in the same house with him during September 1970 at Eaton Mews and also later on in the Cornwall house. She said she never met you, or Steve at that time.

MM: I understood Peckinpah was in Penzance to scout locations, or just getting to know the landscape a bit, and also looking for some local people. I don't think he was there for more than five or six days, and I couldn't guarantee that he was actually there that whole time, and may have come and gone and come back during that week. I didn't meet Katie Haber so I would suppose she didn't go with him. I didn't spend enough time with him to get a real handle on what he was doing there. I knew that he wasn't going to begin filming until the New Year which is when I wanted to go down, but he wasn't having me there then.

MO: 3) Both Peckinpah biographers, Garner Simmons and David Weddle, who interviewed Sam in depth about his relationship with Steve, say he never mentioned the meeting with Steve in Cornwell, and feel it is something he would have brought up in their conversations with him.

MM: I can't account for what Sam Peckinpah said or didn't say to to those biographers. I do think it's possible, and this is just a guess, that Peckinpah didn't particularly want to admit to essentially turning his back on McQueen when he needed help. Or perhaps it was never something Peckinpah later recalled to those biographers because it had nothing to do with their working relationship. I've been interviewing people a long long time and I can't claim to know everything about everyone I have interviewed. I interviewed Charlton Heston probably more times than I did anyone else, and was in contact with him almost to the end, but I can't claim to know everything about him. Sometimes people simply don't want to tell everything. Deborah Kerr was adamant that she and David Niven were just good friends, and when I wrote the Niven biography I made it clear they were just good friends. Yet about a year ago Robert Wagner was on TV talking about how Niven was having an affair with Deborah Kerr. So who really knows everything about anyone?
MO: 4) I was very interested when I read your memories of Steve's recounting of the solitary confinement at Boys Republic, because I had never heard this before, and it is well known that Steve liked to talk about his harsh childhood, often even getting into "my childhood was worse than yours" type conversation/competitions. I felt sure that it was something he would have shared with his first wife Neile, and I asked her about it. She said Steve never shared this story with her, and she felt sure he would have told her (Neile herself had been in a Japanese POW camp as a child, and this shared harsh childhood was something they bonded very strongly over). She also said she was confident he had never met Oliver Reed, and said it was something she would have known.

MM: I can't know why Steve would tell one person something and and not tell the same thing to another person. I can speculate a bit. I related to Steve about how I had gone through a terrible time a few years before, which I haven't written about in detail in the book, getting caught up with one of George Raft's mob friends, which led to me getting into a very violent encounter which put someone else's life at risk. This had been a traumatic experience for me, and Steve understood and told me about his violent past and some of the consequences both in and outside of the Boys Republic. We were talking more about being violent and the consequences. He was giving me information that really was just for me, at that time, based on what I was telling him. I don't know if Steve ever admitted to Neile much about his violent nature. The violence I experienced isn't something I share with anyone as a rule, and certainly not with those closest to me, and maybe that was the same for Steve.
My Husband, My Friend
I was seventeen at the time and far too young to begin to analyse him, and even now I find him quite an enigma. I didn't know him well enough and certainly don't claim to in the book. James Coburn and Don Gordon thought they knew him just about as well as anyone, yet Steve kept things from them, such as his taking hard drugs, and his terminal illness. No matter how much we think we know someone, and this would include Neile, you can never known them completely. There was even confusion over which of his step-fathers was called Berri. Neile thought it was one particular man, while a couple of his biographers thought it was someone else.

As for Steve meeting Oliver Reed, it happened long after Neile and Steve were divorced. Why would she know about it? (This is an example of what I have said previously about some people who claim to be the only authorities on certain public figures.) I have found a mention of this meeting on IMBD In 1973 Steve McQueen flew to England to meet Reed and discuss a possible film collaboration. "Reed showed me his country mansion and we got on well," recalled McQueen. "He then suggested he take me to his favorite London nightclub." The drinking, which started at Reed's home, Broome Hall, continued into the night until Reed could hardly stand. Suddenly, and with no apparent warning, he vomited over McQueen's shirt and trousers. "The staff rushed around and found me some new clothes, but they couldn't get me any shoes," said McQueen. "I had to spend the rest of the night smelling of Oliver Reed's sick."
although I wouldn't necessarily take everything on this site as gospel, but it does give some corroboration to my account.

MO: Thanks for responding to those four points Michael. I should just point out that Robert Relyea was very humble in recalling his memories of the events on the set of Le Mans, and was in no way opinionated or arrogant about himself as an authority on Steve's activities. Also that Neile did remain close to Steve after their divorce, also remaining a close adviser on film projects, so her conviction that she would know about the Reed meeting was based on that.

Last question... In your career, you have met a lot of celebrities. Which ones rank highest in your memories, and why?

MM: That's always a hard one to answer. I met an awful lot of people, worked with some, and got to know some as friends. Ava Gardner was a close friend for many years, and through her I met Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis Jr. Lawford was a troubled man and I didn't get to know him well, partly because he was in London in 1974 for a short time, but also because he was usually stoned or drunk. He invited me to a party where Sammy Davis was a guest. Sammy had a reputation as a heavy drinker, but he remained sober because Ava, worried about the influence Lawford might have on me, asked him to keep an eye on me. Ava was very protective of me and wasn't at all happy when Lawford invited me when we were at her home. Not long after that, Sammy took Ava and me to a nightclub where I ended up singing on stage with the both of them. That was great fun, and so I have fond though not many memories of Sammy Davis. That evening I asked him if I was now one of the Rat Pack, and he said, "I declare you an honorary member."

Long before I knew Ava, I had met Frank Sinatra when I was just thirteen. I used to visit George Raft who lived in London when he was hosting at the Colony Club Casino. Sinatra was shooting a film in London, The Naked Runner, and he invited me to the set which was a building by the river Thames. I watched Sinatra at work as an actor which was particularly thrilling. Everything had to be ready for him when he arrived so he could virtually walk on to the set and do his scene. I found him very gracious and funny, and over the years I would meet him when he came to London, and sometimes he gave me tickets to see his shows, so I got to see him in concert.

Richard Burton was someone I had great affection for. If I had known I wanted to be an actor from the start, he would have made sure I got small roles in his films, but because I wanted to be a director, he made sure I spent time on some of his films by getting me work as an extra.

There are a few people I was in awe of. One was Laurence Olivier. He allowed me to spend time with him as his apprentice at The Old Vic where he was directing a play so he could teach me to direct. He was fond of using nicknames for people he liked, and he put my initials together and called me M&M which came out as eminem. When I first met him I wasn't sure how to address him because he was a Lord. He suggested I call him Lord Larry, so I did. He was a huge, tremendous talent, but also a very charming and funny man who was also occasionally given to a great show of affection.

John Wayne was also someone I was in awe of when I met him on the set of Brannigan which was being shot in London. He noticed how nervous I was and asked what was wrong with me. I told him "I don't meet many living legends." He thought that was funny. Later that day there was a problem about filming a chase scene across Tower Bridge. The police had threatened to arrest the director if the scene went ahead. Wayne gave instruction to shoot the scene, and when I said, "What about the police?" he replied, "Who the hell is gonna argue with a living legend." Sure enough, the police moved in on the director at which point Wayne strolled in and began signing autographs for the coppers, and everyone was happy and the director was free to go.

There are a lot of memories I have of these really great personalities, so it's hard to decide who is the most memorable. There was John Huston, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Peter Sellers, David Niven, John Gielgud, Olivier Reed. Jack Wild was a good friend.

Steve McQueen is someone I have wonderful memories of, and obviously I wrote about them in the book. As I said earlier, it's only since the book was published that I have realised that he must have thought of me as a younger brother. He felt he was looking out for me. I think he would have made a great older brother.

MO: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

MM: Thank you very much for your interest.