10 things you need to know about Steve McQueen

We bring you the facts about the award winning filmmaker…

Last weekend, Academy Award winning director Steve McQueen was honoured with the Achievement in European Cinema gong at the European Film Awards in Riga. Since McQueen has only made three feature-length films, this was a gutsy move on the part of the European Film Academy, and prompted us to gather together the facts about the already legendary director.

1. Winner winner
As well as his win at the European Film Awards last weekend, McQueen has had quite the year; his win for 12 YEARS A SLAVE at the Oscars earlier this year marked the first time a black filmmaker has won the accolade for Best Picture.

2. Fassbender
Our own adopted Michael Fassbender has starred in all three of McQueen’s feature films – HUNGER, SHAME and 12 YEARS A SLAVE. In fact it was his role in HUNGER that brought Fassbender to public and critical attention; he received the British Independent Film Award for his performance.

3. Sing me a song
The scene in SHAME where Brandon (Fassbender) hears his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) sing was filmed in real time. Fassbender had never heard Mulligan sing before, so his reaction was real.

4. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger
McQueen had a rather bad time in school; he was dyslexic and placed into a class for students whom, it was believed, were best suited for manual labour or trades. McQueen also had to wear an eye patch for some time, to correct a lazy eye.

5. Mr Turner
McQueen won the coveted Turner Prize in 1999 for his film installation and exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.

6. Building his Craft
McQueen’s first feature film – HUNGER – was made when the director was 38 years old. He directed several short films before this however, staring with BEAR in 1993.

7. Shame Shame…
SHAME was originally due to be set in the UK, but was moved to New York when McQueen couldn’t get the money to make the film in his home country.

8. The truth is out there
Before starting work on 12 YEARS A SLAVE, McQueen had never heard Solomon Northup’s story, but was struggling to write a story about an African-American man born free and forced into slavery. The director was gifted a copy of Northup’s book, and was astounded at the coincidence.

9. Direct to Glory
Steve McQueen directed 3 actors to Oscar-nominated performances: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender, all for their work on 12 YEARS A SLAVE.

10. Coming Up…
It was announced in October that McQueen’s next project will be a show called CODES OF CONDUCT for HBO. The series will focus on a young African-American man’s attempts to enter New York high society, and will star Helena Bonham Carter, Rebecca Hall and Paul Dano.

Words: Brogen Hayes