Steven Frederic Seagal (born April 10, 1952) is an Actor, producer, writer, musician, activist, 7th-dan black belt in Aikido, reserve deputy sheriff, father of seven, Buddhist, "cultural ambassador" of the United States to Russia (according to the Kremlin, at least), and guardian (legally and literally) of the only child of the 10th Panchen Lama of Tibet. According to That Other Wiki he was also the first foreigner to operate an aikido dojo in Japan.
For the last few decades, the ponytailed star has neck-punched his way though dozens of movies since his late-eighties debut in Above the Law, which was directed by Andrew Davis. His films largely consist of him shrugging off bullets, taking on dozens of mooks singlehandedly and eventually killing the Big Bad in brutal fashion. Several times over.
After the success of his first movie Seagal went on to make box office hits Hard to Kill, Marked for Death and Out for Justice, securing his place as a top action star during the late 80's and early 90's. Before his limitations became obvious it even seemed that he might make the transition from exploitation films to serious drama, à la Mickey Rourke. In his review of Above the Law, Roger Ebert even claimed that "[Seagal] can play tender and he can play smart, two notes often missing on the Bronson and Stallone accordions".
The apex of his success came with his most well known movie Under Siege, which was also directed by Davis. Unfortunately this proved to be the beginning of the end of his big box office success. The 1994 film On Deadly Ground was a pet project of the actor, with a large budget and even an all-star cast. Co-produced, directed and starring Steven Seagal, the movie was an Anvilicious environmental crusade against evil oil companies which ended up being a Box Office Bomb.
Despite Under Siege 2: Dark Territory being successful, Seagal's movies rapidly declined in financial success. He seemed to make a comeback with Exit Wounds, but his follow-up Half Past Dead was a critical and commercial flop and since then most of his films have gone Direct-to-Video. He made a proposal to have American releases of Tony Jaa's Thai smash-hit Ong-Bak re-cut with him in the prologue and epilogue as the Mighty Whitey who trained him into a Muay Thai master, but the idea was rejected. Later he was seen in the reality tv show Steven Seagal: Lawman and making his return to the big screen in 2010 as the main villain of Robert Rodriguez's Machete. He also recorded two albums: a debut "Songs from the Crystal Cave" and straight blues "Mojo Priest". He also created and co-wrote many episodes of the TV series True Justice (starring guess who).
There is also an energy drink made in his name: Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt.
- Nico Toscani in Above the Law (1988)
- Mason Storm in Hard to Kill (1990)
- John Hatcher in Marked for Death (1990)
- Gino Felino in Out for Justice (1991)
- Casey Ryback in Under Siege (1992) and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)
- Forrest Taft in On Deadly Ground (1994)
- Austin Travis in Executive Decision (1996)
- Jack Cole in The Glimmer Man (1996)
- Jack Taggart in Fire Down Below (1997)
- Wesley McClaren in The Patriot (1998)
- Orin Boyd in Exit Wounds (2001)
- Frank Glass in Ticker (2001)
- Sasha Petrosevich in Half Past Dead (2002)
- Jonathan Cold in The Foreigner (2003) and Black Dawn (2005)
- Robert Burns in Out for a Kill (2003)
- Jake Hopper in Belly of the Beast (2003)
- Jack Miller in Clementine (2004)
- William Lansing in Out of Reach (2004)
- Travis Hunter in Into the Sun (2005)
- Harlan Banks in Today You Die (2005)
- Chris Cody in Submerged (2005)
- John Seeger in Mercenary for Justice (2006)
- Jack Foster in Shadow Man (2006)
- Marshall Lawson in Attack Force (2006)
- John Sands in Flight of Fury (2007)
- Simon Ballister in Urban Justice (2007)
- Matt Conlin in Pistol Whipped (2008)
- Jacob in Kill Switch (2008)
- Cock Puncher in The Onion Movie (2008)
- Roland in The Keeper (2009)
- Tao in Against the Dark (2009)
- Ruslan in Driven to Kill (2009)
- Shane Daniels in A Dangerous Man (2009)
- Rogelio Torrez in Machete (2010)
- Bobby Samuels in Born to Raise Hell (2010)
- Cross in Maximum Conviction (2012)
- John Alexander in Mercenary: Absolution (2015)
- As Himself in Steven Seagal: Lawman (2009-10)
- Elijah Kane in True Justice (2010-12)
- As Himself in promotional material, as well as a USN Commander in his likeness, in World of Warships (2016)
Tropes associated with Steven Seagal
- Author Appeal: A lot of his film roles have him carry a 1911 pistol. In Real Life, it's his favourite pistol also.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Seems to be a requirement for all of his characters (just look at that list of roles!) We have to wonder whether he puts it in his contracts.
- Badass Longhair: His ponytail is quite iconic.
- Blatant Lies: He's notorious for making up improbable stories about himself.
- Darker and Edgier: Disturbingly so, in The Glimmer Man. Unlike other buddy cop movies, they end up hating each other. With Keenen Ivory Wayans's character hating him even more and expressing wish to stay from him in the end. Another example is him bragging that "I'm a lot fucking worse" in Urban Justice, in regards to his desire for revenge towards the ones who murdered his son.
- Death Glare: Seems to be his default expression.
- Driving a Desk: He's renowned as one of the worst fake drivers ever, constantly moving the steering wheel around no matter what's going on behind him.
- Dull Surprise:
"His facial muscles are firm, but leg and arm muscles moves like lightning".
- In Italy, and possibly, elsewhere, TV advertised a series of Steven Seagal films with this line (translated):
- Best shown here◊.
- Girly Run: Yes, really.
- Groin Attack: Seagal's characters often go for them. Behind the scenes, Seagal became infamous for unexpectedly kicking stunt performers in the balls between takes to "test" whether they were wearing cups.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: He is a genuine crackshot and demonstrated this ability on Steven Seagal: Lawman, even shooting the head off a match while trying to graze it just enough to light it.
- Invincible Hero: Seagal is well-known for insisting that his characters be unstoppable killing machines who are almost never seriously challenged by any opponent he faces (seriously, if you ever see him take so much as a punch in any of his later films, it'll be a cold day in Hell). This is why, in Executive Decision, his character makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save others rather than, as was originally in the script, have his head explode from air pressure. Seagal reputedly went on a one-man strike until this was changed.
- Its Pronounced Tropay: Seagal pronounces his last name "Sea-GALL", as opposed to the usual "SEA-gull". According to an interview, he used to pronounce it the usual way until he visited a Chagall art exibit and liked the name, prompting the change.
- Lightning Bruiser: In his prime, he was much quicker than his size indicated he should be.
- The Prima Donna: See above.
- Promoted Fanboy: The reason why he appears in World of Warships is because he's apparently a big fan of the Iowa-Class Battleship, USS Missouri, AKA "Mighty Mo". In order for Wargaming to have him even do the advertising and voice a captain required Wargaming to make the Missouri playable, as opposed to just using the generic Iowa-class tier IX.
- Small Name, Big Ego: There is a long list of stories available online (unproven but nevertheless widespread) of Seagal getting into fights with other actors or stuntmen and consequently getting majorly outclassed as a result.
- Stout Strength: Despite his later weight gain, he can still kick ass.
- Stunt Double: Seagal is rather infamous for his excessive usage of body doubles. In his direct-to-DVD films, any time he is not in close-up or his face is not clearly visible, it's a younger, lighter double, even when his character is just standing around. He also has his voice looped by doubles.
- The Tyson Zone: Mainly due to his notorious hardheadness, there are anecdotes about Seagal having violent incidents with more or less every renowned martial artist or action film actor, and most of them have Steven getting the shorter end of the stick. The list includes Bob Wall, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Gene LeBell, Dan Inosanto, John Leguizamo and even pro wrestler Curt Hennig.
- Wag the Director: He apparently has a bad habit of doing this, see Invincible Hero.