Steven McQueen. That name sounds a lot like legendary actor Steve McQueen and there’s a reason: he’s a grandson.
The 22-year-old McQueen never had the opportunity to meet the star of “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Great Escape,” “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “Bullitt.” His grandfather died at the relatively young age of age 50 from cancer in 1980.
Steven R. McQueen was born in 1988.
“It was the name I was born with,” McQueen said over pan-seared scallops at Shout restaurant in Midtown earlier this month. He never thought of changing it. “People really respected him.”
So far, he’s doing just fine on his own. He got the acting gene, too: he plays a major role in both “Vampire Diaries,” shot here in Atlanta, and a new horror flick “Piranha 3D,” opening Friday.
He had great fun with “Piranha 3D.” As a surfer, he’s used to being in water. His only concession: he quit smoking so he could have better lung capacity under water. And the movie hasn’t made him any less fascinated with creatures of the water: he was recently glued to Discovery Channel’s annual “Shark Week.”
He plays the sheriff’s son. Elisabeth Shue is his mom. (I automatically felt old when I heard that.) He loves a gal two years older who has a popular boyfriend. “I’m chasing her around,” he said. “We’re in friend zone. She gets brought on a ‘Girls Gone Wild’ boat. Jerry O’Connell plays the Joe Francis character. He’s hilarious. Then the fish start attacking.”
“It’s a bit like ‘Snakes on a Plane’ meets ‘Jaws,’ McQueen continued.”You can’t fully get serious about it. We went overkill on the death scenes.”
We made some jokes about “Piranha 3D” and the Oscars. Well, Funny or Die thought the same thing:
Then we moved on to “Vampire Diaries,” which is in production now for season two.
His character Jeremy has lost his parents and his girlfriend. He was so down last year, he begged to become a vampire but it didn’t happen. “Jeremy kind of wants to get in touch with his humanity,” McQueen explained. “He lost everyone he loved. He has a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t trust anybody. He’s still looking for a purpose and cause.”
Over the season, his character got more airtime, which was a compliment to him. “Every day, I’m grateful,” he said.
And he loves how Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec guide the show. “There’s a lot of layers to the characters,” he said. “It’s really a gift. Nobody is just one way in life. They add not only emotion but a level of writing that makes you feel something different is being said than what is going on.”
While in Atlanta, he has chosen a spot in Little Five Points to live and spends plenty of time there, where he seldom gets recognized. I joked that he better have tattoos and he showed me initials shaped like a dragonfly in honor of his mom on his upper right arm. He also has a bit of the daredevil in him like his dad, who has raced cars until he got into a serious accident a few years ago and landed in a coma. He loves FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” and wants to get a bike.
The big three actors: Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley and Ian Solmerhalder, get all the attention. He doesn’t mind being one of the secondary characters. “I’m free to do other things without being as tied down,” he said.
“Vampire Diaries,” season 2 begins Sept. 9 on the CW at 8 p.m.