The Times Online has an edited extract from a new Steve McQueen biography that is due out next month, which will focus on the actor’s rough background.

Steve McQueen was the last person in the world I expected to find in Cornwall. He’d arrived some time in the night at a house that the director Sam Peckinpah was renting in Penzance while scouting locations for the film Straw Dogs.

They weren’t friends. The rugged movie star had simply turned up out of the blue — dirty, unshaven and looking more depressed than anyone I’d ever seen. As I found out later, his first marriage was breaking up and his dream project, a film based on the Le Mans car race, had run into problems.

Peckinpah, however, was desperate to get rid of his unwanted guest and he was probably just as keen to be rid of me. Not yet 18, I’d met the director while working in the publicity department of the Cinerama film company in London and had persuaded him to let me observe him at work. By the time I arrived, overflowing with youthful enthusiasm, he’d come to regret his decision.

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