Steve McQueen walked away from movie classic The Great Escape over fears he was being upstaged by James Garner.

The late icon quit the film for two weeks and only returned when director John Sturges agreed to add an extra sequence to the movie to bolster up McQueen's COOLER KING character.

In a new TV documentary about McQueen, producer WALTER MIRISCH explains, "It was just terrible. He just refused to go on in the picture because he felt he was being upstaged and he thought it would be very bad for him."

Assistant Director ROBERT RELYEA (corr) recalls, "John blew one day and said, 'OK... I've solved it; I'm gonna combine the Garner and McQueen roles and it will be one character, so Steve is out of here.'

"Of course the next aeroplane that came into Munich (Germany) carried the entire WILLIAM MORRIS office (McQueen's agents)."

Mirisch continues, "It was very, very hairy, however the god of cinema smiled down on us and what we added was the sequence in the picture where BIG X (Richard Attenborough) asks Steve to escape and it satisfied him and he finally came back to work."

02/06/2005 21:15