Three decades have done little to diminish our fascination with legendary actor Steve McQueen, who died tragically at age 50 of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Today he remains a fixture in pop culture and garners more attention than the majority of deceased celebrities.
Now one of the most exciting actors of our generation – Jeremy Renner is tapped to play McQueen in a new bio-pic. The as of yet unnamed movie will be produced by The Combine, a production house Renner set up specifically to make the McQueen picture.
Writer and director James Gray is said to be basing his screenplay on Marshall Terrill’s books Portrait of an American Rebel and The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon.
After shooting what would be his last film, The Hunter in 1979, McQueen was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare but aggressive form of cancer whose only known cause is exposure to asbestos. According to his wife Barbara Minty McQueen, the actor rarely talked about his mesothelioma, but did say in an interview that is was caused by asbestos.
McQueen reportedly told doctors he had regularly used asbestos-lined suits when he would ride his motorcycles, and had stripped asbestos from pipes as a punishment when he served as a Marine earlier in his life.
After seeking out an experimental surgery in Juarez, Mexico after American doctors declared he was too weak for any surgical procedures, McQueen passed away on November 7, 1980.
It is unclear if the new film will cover his later years and struggle with mesothelioma.