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Steve McQueen’s old classmate always knew he’d make it big

OLD DAYS: McQueen as a film student

BRITISH DIRECTOR Steve McQueen has just experienced what must be the greatest few days of his career after winning the best picture Oscar for his film 12 Years A Slave.

While his rise to the top of the movie world has been meteoric and not something many would have foreseen a couple of years ago, the London-born film-maker’s success has not surprised a former classmate who studied film with him.

Will Brooker, now a professor of film studies at Kingston University, was in the same as McQueen in the early 1990s when the bright student was making a transition between art and film. He was studying art at Goldsmiths College, but the lure of creating art for the big screen proved too much and he acted on his impulse by learning the craft along with Brooker.

Looking back at how he first came across the budding film-maker, the professor said: “I was doing a postgraduate course which saw each student direct a short film that would become their industry calling card.

OSCAR GOLD: McQueen poses with his gong (PA)

“We all helped out on each other’s projects and one day a young man who was studying fine art asked if he could join us as he wanted to learn about film-making. The student was Steve McQueen and, in hindsight, this was a crucial point in his career.”

Reflecting on what McQueen was like to be around in his younger years, Brooker said: “Steve was quiet and serious, deeply committed to his art.

“I think this character is reflected in the three feature films he’s directed so far – none of which could be described as light-hearted.”

And in regards to McQueen’s name being the same as the iconic American actor, Brooker remembers him taking jokes about it well. But there is something the professor will not forget being told by the now Oscar-winning director.

“He said that one day when people talked about ‘Steve McQueen’, he was going to be the first person they thought of”, Brooker recalled. And it appears that those words are finally coming true as the first black British director basks in the glory of winning best picture at the film industry’s most exalted awards.

OLD CLASSMATE: Will Brooker (Geraint Lewis)

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