Steve McQueen is probably best known for being one of the 1960s and 1970s biggest movie stars. In fact, in 1974 he was the highest-paid actor in the world with popular films like Bullitt, The Getaway, and The Magnificent Seven under his belt. But there was another side to Steve McQueen that few people seem to know about. Steve McQueen became a Christian near the end of his life. Pastor Greg Laurie and Christian filmmakers The Erwin Brothers (producers of “Woodlawn” and “Mom’s Night Out”) teamed up to tell the story of Steve McQueen faith journey in a recent documentary entitled Steve McQueen: American Icon. The movie played nationwide on September 28 and and had an encore showing on October 19.
Jon Erwin, the films director recently described the film by saying, “[It’s the] untold story of the biggest movie star in the world, the highest paid movie star in the world and how this guy climbed up from nothing and the worst situations he could be in as a child, to the biggest movie star in the world and then he realized that it didn’t make him happy.”
Both McQueen and Erwin realized that neither worldly success nor possessions could truly bring happiness. Instead, there’s more to life than accumulating things and accolades. In many ways, Steve McQueen faith life is a modern-day retelling of Ecclesiastes, a book that ends with the simple command: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all manking” (Ecclesiastes 12:13b).
The documentary includes a never-before-seen interview that McQueen gave merely two weeks before he passed away from complications related to cancer. McQueen’s widow shared the interview with the filmmakers as well as other personal photographs and other mementos.
The interview includes McQueen expressing his desire for people to know about his faith in Christ and how it had changed him. “I want to change people’s lives,” he says, “I want people to know what has happened to me.”
Erwin describes the transformation that took place in McQueen’s life, “He really experienced a peace that he wanted and he really wanted the world to know about it and then he found out he had cancer, terminal cancer. One of the people he wanted to meet was Billy Graham.”
Mere weeks before he passed away, McQueen got the chance to meet Billy Graham and Graham even gave him his Bible. It was a Bible that he was holding in his hands as he passed away.
McQueen didn’t get to witness to the world about his Christian faith while he was living. But now, because of the work of Greg Laurie and the Erwin brothers, Steve McQueen faith is witnessing from beyond the grave.