There’s a story about Steve McQueen being offered the role of architect Doug Roberts in The Towering Inferno. McQueen turned it down, asking instead to play fire chief Michael O’Hallorhan, claiming that there’s no way an audience would find him believable in any role other than a straight-ahead man of action. The part of Roberts, instead, went to Paul Newman. At that point, in 1974, Newman’s most successful roles had been as outlaws, con-men and rebels – characters arguably not that far removed from the kind of people who peppered McQueen’s own CV. But it says a lot, perhaps, about how cinema audiences were prepared to accept him, that despite the succession of outsiders and wild ones he’d played, there was something inherently likeable and appealing about Newman.