|Photo credit Richard Kraus via The First Steve McQueen Site|
The student's name was Richard Kraus, and he approached McQueen on the set of his last film, The Hunter, to interview him for his high school's newspaper. What's amazing is that McQueen really took the time to give his full attention to Krauss, and even gave him some life advice out of earshot from the rest of the movie crew.
The interview got published in Kraus' high school newspaper, The Federalist, as well as in a McQueen biography called Portrait of an American Rebel. You can read it in its entirety here on The First Steve McQueen Site (the first known website ever to go live dedicated to the actor.) Here's what Richard Kraus remembers about the experience, as reprinted from the site:
"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."
Kraus got a photo of McQueen, pictured at the top of this post. He looks deceivingly healthy, considering he died later that year. But the fact that he gave a high school kid a break adds to his reputation as "The King of Cool."