ALSO: See how Steven Seagal’s Casey Ryback fared in our Badass Bracket!
For Steven Seagal, good things never come easy. In the latter part of the mythic martial artist’s career, his action flicks are direct-to-video events, seen only by his longtime avid followers. He credited the FBI for ruining his career, who claimed Seagal worked for the mob, and he hired a private detective in order to avoid journalists writing nasty things about him in the press. And so in the mid 2000s, Seagal’s career floundered. And yet, during this time of trial and tribulation, he has managed to keep working – both musically and meditatively. Like his great characters of the screen, Seagal himself is indeed a warrior, and like our Badass Bracket says, he’s “the best there is.”
The rise of Seagal, sometimes known as the Great One, begins in Lansing, Michigan in 1951. A family move to southern California when Seagal was a youth was also the location for the beginning of his martial arts training (ultimately he would wind up in Japan teaching aikido in which he claimed a black belt). Black belts in karate, judo, and kendo would also come his way. He married a Japanese girl, worked in a dojo, and quietly prepared himself for the future. Legend has it he met a dog which by barking alerted Seagal of an impending fire to his dojo. The dog proved right; Seagal never saw it again.
A return to the United States brought Seagal attention as an aikido master – and a growing interest to Hollywood. His training with Sean Connery in his return as James Bond in “Never Say Never Again” is oft told: he broke 007’s wrist teaching him karate. It was only the beginning. By the early 90s, he was a legit action star with the “Under Siege” franchise. An attempt at music yielded two blues albums: Songs from the Crystal Cave and Mojo Priest.While his troubles with the Mob and his direct to DVDs films are Seagal’s current legacy, he has managed to lead quite a life. He has six children, promotes an energy drink known as Steven Seagal’s Lightning Bolt, is a deputy sheriff in Louisiana, an environmentalist, and recognized as a reincarnated tulku. A major comeback seems destined for Lord Steven.
Seagal on the Web
The web’s ultimate center for Seagal in action.
TV Guide: Steven Seagal
Photos, bio and news of the great action star.
Seagal’s official site, the main page promoting his blues album Mojo Priest.
Extensive anecdotal biography of Seagal.
Seagal page has news, pictures and, of course, ratings on his movies.
Portland Mercury Interview
Seagal speaks about the blues.
Shambhala Sun Interview
Seagal interview in which he discloses his Buddhist connection.
Seagal on his last great hit, “Exit Wounds.”
Jim Merks conducts an interview with Seagal in Japan.
Seagal on the Screen
In the early years, the Master of Aikido rose to power with “Above the Law” in 1988. He’s Mason Storm in “Hard to Kill” and Casey Ryback in the widely popular “Under Siege” movies. His directorial debut was in 1994 with “On Deadly Ground,” though the film tanked. Still, he had some success as Lt. Col. Austin Travis in “Executive Decision” and Jack Taggart in “The Glimmer Man.” His last great success was “Exit Wounds” in 2001. Afterwards began a line of direct-to-video pictures. He’s Sasha Petrosevitch in “Half Past Dead,” Jonathan Cold twice in “The Foreigner” and “Black Dawn,” Chris Cody in “Submerged,” Harlan Banks in “Today You Die,” Marshall Lawson in “Attack Force,” and John Sands in “Flight of Fury.”
Seagal has the lead (believe it or not) in the upcoming comedy “The Untitled Onion Movie,” and is Simon in “Urban Justice,” both set for a late 2007 release. His “Marker” is in post-production, and he is co-writing and starring in “A Higher Form of Learning.” His dream project, “Prince of Pistols,” which he’s also slated to direct, is still in development hell.
On his great hope:
“I am hoping that I can be known as a great writer and actor some day, rather than a sex symbol.”
“Try to find the path of least resistance and use it without harming others. Live with integrity and morality, not only with people but with all beings.”