Overall I agree with you, Ado, about McQueen's style. However, I do think he had a break out more emotive role in The Sand Pebbles. It even earned him a Oscar nomination that I think was deserved.
That is a good point Joan.
There were a few roles were he was challenged, Papillon was probably one also. I think what carried him more than emoting was the intelligence implied behind his eyes, and this is a compliment by the way, and more remarkable because he was regarded as 'good looking". Whereas we can certainly list a lot of attractive celebrity actors that do not have that intelligent look in the eyes.
Even James Garner has commented that, if you look over the course of his career, Mr. McQueen had his own set of mannerisms and that he was more an action personality with that unmistakable charismatic It rare to describe but impossible to ignore - especially when the camera loves you and enhances that magnetic essence.
Preston mentioned Robert Culp and McQueen's s New York connection earlier in their careers (plus the not-to-be-overlooked significance of the latter's Josh Randall character debuted on the former's "Trackdown") but it also bears mentioning that what McQueen typified with what was intuitively going on behind his eyes was precisely the profound guidance Mr. Culp gave the then-neophyte Mr. Cosby when they first started working on "I-Spy" which was: just Think the Thought, don't do anything - and the camera will catch it, magnify it and it'll be immediately ignited on screen.
John Sturges recognized this titled trait early on ('Steve, just STAND there!') and tis this that was among his most memorable attributes ...