There's no doubt that when Steven R. McQueen
decided to become an actor, he had some big shoes to fill. He is after all the grandson of legendary screen icon Steve McQueen (his namesake), a man revered as one of the biggest stars of the 1960s. Known as the "King of Cool" to an entire generation — and the personal idol of modern day actors including Brad Pitt — Steve McQueen is remembered for his starring role in iconic films such as The Great Escape
, and Papillon
Yet as an actor, the young Steven has never relied on his family legacy, preferring to pave his own path to stardom. He began his career back in 2005 with guest roles in TV shows such as Everwood
and CSI: Miami
. But it was in 2009, when he landed the part of Jeremy Gilbert
on The Vampire Diaries
, that his career really began to build momentum.
On the surface, the initial success of The Vampire Diaries
can be linked to the Twilight
phenomena, but despite some slight plot similarities, the show (based on the books by L.J. Smith, notably released years before the Twilight
saga) has proven to be uniquely its own and so much more than just another love triangle involving vampires. The proof is in its fan base, a huge sprawling thing, with a diverse audience, including my 80-year-old grandmother who loves the show!
Initially shot on location in Vancouver, McQueen got a taste of the cold wet weather found in Canada's West Coast before moving over to sunny Georgia to film. The actor didn't mind the rain though, and as it turned out, even had a chance to enjoy the surrounding wilderness of the picturesque city. "Vancouver was a lot of fun. We ended up all taking a road trip to Whistler," remembers McQueen. "It was a great time." And if the actors interest is music is of any indication (Nirvana, the Kooks, Lil' Wayne, Counting Crows, and Mike Snow are his favourite artists), that trip may just have included a campfire serenade by McQueen, who both plays guitar and sings. His melodious hobby has helped keep the actor well-rounded, ensuring that he doesn't put too much focus on the show alone: "I really enjoy playing music. It can be therapeutic," he says. "It's something in the future I might focus on more."
As for Steven's character, Jeremy, his life is filled with a series of unfortunate events that come back to haunt him (literally) this season. From day one on the show, Jeremy is surrounded by death and the complications stemming from the paranormal world. A teenage druggie who is struggling to deal with his parents' sudden death, he cleans up only to be hit with the death of his human-turned-vampire girlfriend, Vicki, and later, the death of his second girlfriend, Anna, who he discovers is a witch.
So far, Season Two has seen McQueen's character continuing down the same path of misfortune. Haunted by the ghosts of girlfriends past (as in, he can see and hear them), Jeremy is getting further away from normal teenager territory every episode. When asked about the evolution of his character, McQueen puts a positive spin on the trials and tribulations that currently make up Jeremy's life: "I think the character has nowhere to go but up," he suggests. "He has been so broken down and weak that he has slowly become strong. I think [this season] you will notice a lot of changes."
But don't expect a transformation to be one of those changes. Though there was a scare last season when audiences watched Jeremy consider sipping vampire blood to turn into one of the cold ones and shut off the pain, it looks like Jeremy is going to be hanging on to his humanity, remaining one of the "regular" humans in Mystic Falls. "I enjoy playing a human in this fantasy world," says McQueen who is happy not to see Jeremy become a vampire, werewolf, or hybrid (part vampire/part werewolf).
One other thing he might be enjoying is the show's huge success, success that McQueen is determined not to let distract him. For this young actor, that really isn't an option. As he concludes, "At the end of the day we play make-believe for a living. I think it would be silly to let that get to our heads."
Fashion Direction: Gabrielle Swan
Stylist: Elle Werlin
Grooming: Joanna Pensinger
Shot on location at The Gracie Inn
, New York.
For more shots of Steven wearing fall's most gentlemanly fashion, check out this issue's "Shadows and Light" photo shoot