The goodness of Steve McQueen’s heart: On the set of final film ‘The Hunter’

Jeremy Roberts
8 min readJun 29, 2018
“Magnificent Seven” star Steve McQueen’s widow Barbara Minty bluntly reflects, “‘The Hunter’ was not as much fun as Steve’s previous film ‘Tom Horn’ — the former was more of a ‘city’ movie. I don’t know where or why the thought came over me, but I had the distinct feeling that ‘The Hunter’ was going to be Steve’s last picture.” Here the jovial couple are pictured during the disco-fueled summer of 1978 in Malibu. Image Credit: The Barbara Minty McQueen Collection / appears in “Steve McQueen: The Last Mile…Revisited”

Barbara Minty McQueen came face-to-face with future spouse Steve McQueen in July 1977 after receiving a phone call from Nina Blanchard in Los Angeles. The modeling agent told her client that the “King of Cool” had spotted her in a Club Med advertisement while he was aboard an airplane and wanted her to audition for the role of a Native American princess in his penultimate project, the western Tom Horn. Apparently it was a strategically planned ruse, as the final cut contains no traces of any Native American princesses.

That initial meeting led to a whirlwind courtship and her ultimate marriage to McQueen in 1980. Minty maintained an active role in her husband’s life, whether amateur aviation — they temporarily called a funky Santa Paula airplane hangar home — going to swap meets, taking spontaneous motorcycle adventures, spending months near the Mexico border shooting Tom Horn, or providing tender love and support during McQueen’s cancer ordeal.

Minty had the foresight to document their time together and capture rare behind-the-scenes memories from Tom Horn and The Hunter for posterity. Minty’s tribute to her husband, Steve McQueen: The Last Mile…Revisited, is a brilliant, engrossing coffee-table book containing hundreds of full-page color and black and white candids.

Minty graciously agreed to reflect on her years with the taciturn cowboy, and if you missed it, the previous installment revolved around the making of Tom Horn. Otherwise, the talk proceeds to McQueen’s final movie.

The Hunter was a decent moneymaker, netting $37 million at the box office — against an $8 million budget — when distributed in late July 1980. McQueen was battling mesothelioma and was in no condition to attend The Hunter’s premiere or conduct any publicity to tout the film. Nevertheless, it performed considerably better than McQueen’s passion project Tom Horn, eventually becoming a solid earner when released on home video and television.

The Hunter is decidedly modest compared to the iconic Bullitt, although it sports an exhilarating car–combine chase through a circuitous corn field. McQueen wanted to do the movie, and that’s what counts in the final analysis. He had repeatedly passed over films after the unbelievable…

Jeremy Roberts

Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ something fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email:


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