Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen is a British artist, director and screenwriter best known for his films Hunger, Shame and 12 Years a Slave, which won the Academy Award for best picture.


Born in 1969, Steve McQueen is a British artist, director, and screenwriter who has garnered many awards for his art exhibitions and film work. He broke through into the mainstream film industry with his 2008 film, Hunger. His 2011 film, Shame, earned many accolades. McQueen's 2013 film, 12 Years a Slave, won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as the 2014 Academy Award for best picture.

Early Life

Famed artist, director and screenwriter Steve McQueen was born on October 9, 1969, in Ealing, near London, England. The son of Trinidad and Grenada working-class immigrants, McQueen started in the arts at age 4 or 5, when a drawing he made of his family was chosen for a banner outside London's Shepherds Bush Library.

McQueen began his formal training studying painting at London's Chelsea College of Art and Design. He then pursued film at Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London, where he immersed himself in the works of filmmakers Jean Vigo, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and Ingmar Bergman. McQueen later enrolled at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, but quit after three months in the school's film program because he believed his classes emphasized technique over substance.

Career Success

Through the 1990s and 2000s, Steve McQueen garnered many awards for his art and film work. He enjoyed art, but noted in a 2009 interview with The Guardian, "I'm fed up with the art world, to be honest. It doesn't go much further than its own tail, and it gets boring."

McQueen pursued his passion for film, breaking into the mainstream industry with his 2008 film, Hunger. Starring Brian Milligan and Liam McMahon, the film depicts the last months of the life of IRA activist Bobby Sands, who died from a hunger strike while protesting his brutal treatment by Belfast's Maze Prison guards.

McQueen's 2011 psychological sex film, Shame, features Michael Fassbender as a New York City executive suffering from a debilitating sex addition. The film earned McQueen the CinemAvvenire Award for emerging director as well as a FIPRESCI Prize at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.

McQueen went on to direct the film drama 12 Years a Slave (2013), based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a black New Yorker born into freedom who was kidnapped in 1841, smuggled to Louisiana and sold to slave owners. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (Northup), Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong'o and Michael Fassbender, the film won the People's Choice Award at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival as well as the 2014 Academy Award for best picture; McQueen shared the Oscar with Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Anthony Katagas. The film also garnered a Best Director Oscar nod for McQueen, with the award ultimately going to Gravity's Alfonso Cuarón.

Personal Life

In 1996, McQueen left London for Amsterdam, where he settled with longtime partner Bianca Stigter. Together they are raising a daughter, Alex, and son, Dexter.

McQueen isn't the typical artist who lives in a studio. In fact, he doesn't even have one. In an interview with W Magazine, McQueen revealed that he has generated his best ideas when at home cooking or vacuuming. He doesn't hang out with other artists, stating, "That's like if you're a butcher, hanging out with other butchers. You chop meat this way, and I chop meat that way. What's there to talk about?"

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