Café: What inspired you to follow in your father's footsteps as a property master?
|Don Nunley on the Le Mans set.|
Café: How did you first meet Steve McQueen?
|Steve McQueen in 1971.|
DN: I met Steve McQueen on the set of Wanted: Dead or Alive. We weren't formally introduced. It was more of an acknowledgment of each other while I was working as part of the set-dressing crew for the series.
Café: When production designer Phil Abramson fell ill, you replaced him on Le Mans. What additional duties did that involve? Was any there discussion of you receiving a credit for your production design work?
DN: When Phil left the picture, we were well into production. Most of the locations had already been chosen since most of the film was shot on the Le Mans circuit itself. There were still a few sets to dress and, of course, the big one was the paddock that had to be re-created after Steve's refusal to be filmed walking through it on the actual day of the race. I never asked, nor did I expect, to take Phil's credit from him. I know the studio appreciated what I did and that was enough.
Café: What led to the two-week production shutdown on Le Mans and the departure of director John Sturges?
|Director John Sturges.|
Café: Next to Steve McQueen's erratic behavior, what was your biggest challenge with making Le Mans?
DN: I would say matching the cars for the particular hour of the race we were shooting each day. The cars changed dramatically from hour one to hour 24. We wouldn't get our marching orders until the night before as to what we would be shooting the next day. This picture had no shooting schedule as a normal picture would have had.
Café: You mention in your book that one of the Heuer watches worn by Steve McQueen in Le Mans fetched $800,000 at an auction many years later. What was your role in those watches being featured in the film?
|The Heuer Monaco.|
Café: Looking back over his career, what is your final assessment of Steve McQueen--both as an actor on the silver screen as well as a person you worked with on the set?
|Steve McQueen and Don Nunley (center).|
Café: You were involved in a host of other famous films, including Little Big Man, The Scalphunters, and The List of Adrian Messenger (one of our faves). What was your favorite movie that you worked on and why?
|Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man.|
Café: Finally, your filmography includes one acting credit as "Doctor" in the 1983 Kirk Douglas movie Eddie Macon's Run. There's got to be a story there, right?
DN: In Eddie Macon's Run, I became an actor by default. It turned out that the actor chosen to play a doctor could not remember his lines. Out of frustration, the director, Jeff Kanew, turned around, looked at me and asked: "Can you remember the lines?" By then, I think everyone on the set--except for that actor--knew the lines. I put on the doctor's coat, grabbed a prop stethoscope and somehow did a page of dialogue in one take. I still receive about two dollars a year in residuals. So much for my acting career.
All photos are from the book Steve McQueen: Le Mans in the Rearview Mirror (except for the one from Little Big Man). Don Nunley's book was published by Dalton Watson Fine Books.