British movie mogul Richard Attenborough cites working with Steve McQueen in movie classic The Great Escape as one of the toughest challenges he has ever faced - because the late movie great was so demanding.

Lord Attenborough treasures his memories of McQueen, but admits he still doesn't think he befriended the movie icon - even after he accepted an invitation to join the actor on a bone-shaking motorcycle ride.

The actor/director says, "Being with Steve was not peaceful. He was not combatative but you felt that if things were not as he would wish them to be, or believed that they ought to be, then he would let you know... He was not a pussycat."

Attenborough admits he went to great lengths on the set of the film to befriend McQueen: "I always remember one particular day when Steve got his bike out and he said, 'Hey Dick, like a ride?' and I tried not to look absolutely terrified.

"Now, if I didn't accept it, that would be the end of any possible prestige and self-respect that the British might have for the rest of the movie, so I said, 'Of course Steve, absolutely love to.'

"Shaking inside, I got on this terrifying bike and off we went. I've never been more delighted and thrilled to get off any vehicle... but it resulted, as far as I was concerned, in a relationship with Steve which I've treasured all my life."

03/06/2005 09:16