Why Hollywood Found It Impossible to Work with Steven Seagal

The ’80s were a golden age for action films in America. The genre introduced us to some butt-kicking icons including Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Another actor who popped up at the time was a martial artist turned movie star named Steven Seagal.

Steven Seagal / Kelly LeBrock and Steven Seagal / Steven Seagal / Steven Seagal Mike Tyson
Source: Getty Images

His fighting style was aikido, a martial art that focuses on blocks, throws, and other defensive moves. For that reason, his moves were unlike anything Americans had ever seen before. But instead of being a pleasant pioneer of a new fighting style in America, he gained a reputation as of one of the creepiest, most annoying people to work with. Here are some insane facts about the guy.

What Nationality Is Steven Seagal?

At the start of 2016, a few months before he made headlines for being granted a Russian citizen by Vladimir Putin, Steven Seagal received citizenship in Serbia. Even though this decision seemed random to many people outside of Serbia, it was perfectly natural to many Serbians.

Steven Seagal performs in a Benefit Concert for Global Nuclear Disarmament.
Photo by Nathan Shanahan/WireImage/Getty Images

Apart from being hugely popular in the music scene of the country, Steven Seagal has worked with Serbian special forces by training them in aikido. He’s also met with the country’s president and several other top officials. He’s a passionate defender of the Serbian people and has promised to do all that he can to promote a positive image of the country.

His Insane Raid

At a certain point in his career, Steven Seagal starred in his own reality show called Steven Seagal: Lawman. On it, he acted as a cop in Maricopa County, working alongside Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was once quoted saying: “I don’t use e-mail or u-mail or whatever it’s called.”

Steven Seagal talks to a police officer in a still from Steven Seagal: Lawman.
Source: A&E Network

During one arrest on the show, Seagal drove a tank through the compound wall of notorious master criminal Jesus Llovera. Llovera’s alleged crime? Having 115 chickens running around on his property to battle with in illegal fights. The raid ended with all 115 chickens euthanized. Oh, and Llovera’s puppy died…

Terrible Music, Brilliant Lyrics

In 2005, Seagal released an album titled Songs from the Crystal Cave. The singer described its sound as “outsider country-meets-world music-meets-aikido.” Incredibly, he managed to convince Lady Saw and Stevie Wonder to sing on the album.

Steven Seagal performs live with his band Thunderbox.
Photo by Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Seagal wrote most of the music himself and jotted down some poetic and insightful words. Some noteworthy lines include: “Girl what you really want all night/Me want the buddy, make me feel nice/Boy what you really want all night/Me want the poonani, see for make nice/She want the buddy/Him want the poonani/And me know it nice.” Ahhh yes… the poonani.

He Crapped His Pants

As Seagal’s fame grew, the star began to hype himself up, coming out with all these outrageous claims. He once said he was immune to a judo chokehold. To prove it, he invited martial arts legend Gene LeBell to pin him down and choke him.

Steven Seagal is trapped in a chokehold by Gene LeBell
Source: YouTube

LeBell agreed, and unfortunately for Seagal, proved that the star wasn’t actually immune to chokeholds. LeBell choked the poor fellow until he passed out. Not only that, but because of the trauma to his body, he crapped his pants.

He’s an Animal Rights Activist

Steven Seagal is a vegetarian who has collaborated with PETA to convince consumers to stop purchasing fur products. This action is in contradiction to his chicken and puppy killing activities on reality TV. For this, Seagal was awarded a PETA Humanitarian Award.

Steven Seagal poses with a puppy.
Photo by Thierry Falise/LightRocket via Getty Images

He was granted the honors for the prevention of baby elephant exportation from South Africa to Japan. His work didn’t end there. In 2003, Seagal wrote a letter to Thailand’s government and asked them to stop the torture of elephants.

He Believes in Reincarnation

Seagal’s philanthropic work extended all the way to India. He wrote a letter to the prime minister of the country regarding cows. According to a source from the Animal Liberation Front, Seagal believes in reincarnation.

Steven Seagal sits with a Tibetan Monk.
Source: Twitter

“When I walk into a room some people see a dog, some people see a cow. I am all of what they see. It is their perception,” he was quoted saying. Movies like Fire Down Below and Deadly Ground clearly reflect the actor’s stance on the environment and animals.

He’s a “Master Herbologist”

Apart from being an animal activist, actor, and musician, there’s another thing we can add to this star’s resume – master herbologist. In 2005, Seagal launched his own energy drink, a nutraceutical beverage he called Lightning Bolt.

Steven Seagal attends the SMASH Global V pre-Oscar fight.
Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

At the press release of Seagal’s new product, it was stated:

“Lightning Bolt Energy Drink is the result of Seagal’s travels in Asia in search of the botanicals believed to keep many locals disease-free for life.

Seagal, who has studied Buddhism and martial arts in Japan and Tibet, said: “I have included in this drink everything I could to strengthen the body.”

His Bulletproof Leather Jacket Looks Like a Kimono

Apparently, there’s a factory in Colombia that produces bulletproof (yet stylish!) clothing for rich people. Steven Seagal wanted to hop on this fashion train and decided that his best choice was to turn a vest into a kimono.

A photo of Steven Seagal.
Photo by Kypros/Getty Images

It turned out to look more like an oversized jacket that sort of looks like a kimono. The jacket is huge and does a great job at protecting Seagal. It also slims down his waistline! Another weird piece of clothing the star owns is a “chocolate-colored silk Mandarin jacket.”

He Sucks With Women

Steven Seagal is a huge movie star, which should make it easy for him to meet women, right? Apparently, he’s not much of a charmer. According to Jenny McCarthy, the actor sexually harassed her in an encounter:

Steven Seagal poses for a portrait.
Photo by Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

“I’m listening to him go on and on about how he found his soul in Asia and is one with himself and whatever. When I said, “Well, I’m ready to read,” he said, “Stand up, you have to be kind of sexy in the movie, and in that dress, I can’t tell.” I stand up and he goes, “Take off your dress.”

She Wasn’t the Only One

Jenny McCarthy was, unfortunately, not the only who suffered from Steven’s repulsive behavior. Ray Charles’ granddaughter, Blair Robinson, came out with similar claims. “It became clear to me that he wanted and expected sexual favors as part of my job duties,” she stated.

Kelly LeBrock and Steven Seagal attended the premiere of 'Under Siege'.
Photo by Kypros/Getty Images

In addition, four office extras on the set of Out for Justice also complained about the actor. Seagal’s former wife, Kelly LeBrock was so terrified of him after their divorce that she actually went into hiding.

His Assistant Sued Him

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, one of his former assistants filed a lawsuit against him. She alleged sex trafficking, sexual harassment, false representation about employment, and wrongful termination of her position. Damn…

Kayden Nguyen / Steven Seagal
Source: Twitter / Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

According to the Jiu-Jitsue Times, “Kayden Nguyen accuses the actor of sexually abusing her three times, and in one situation, she had to escape Seagal’s home in New Orleans. Nguyen claims Seagal keeps two Russian attendants who have to be ready for him at all times.”

He Likes to Establish Himself as the Alpha Male

Steven Seagal may seem like an “alpha male,” but when it comes down to it, he’s terribly insecure. He tries pretty hard to establish his authority over others. According to actor John Leguizamo, things got a bit messy when they were both cast in Executive Decision.

Seagal grabs Leguizamo’s neck in a still from the film.
Source: Warner Bros.

“We were in rehearsals for Executive Decision,” John explained. “I’m playing his Master Sergeant and we come in for rehearsals and he says, ‘I’m in command. Everything I say is law. Anybody doesn’t agree?’” John reportedly cracked up, and then…

He Hit Him

“I started cracking up because he sounded like a retard,” John continued, “and he came up and he Taekwondo’ed my a** against the brick and he hit me with his elbow.” He knocked all of the air out of John, who dropped to the ground and yelled, “Why?? Why??”

John Leguizamo performs his one-man show 'Ghetto Klown'.
Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

Leguizamo ended up capitalizing on the event and incorporated the story into his stand-up routine, which, obviously, really pissed Steven off. “His publicist told my publicist that he wants to punch me out,” John revealed.

He Pulled the Same Alpha Routine Again

Steven Seagal behaved similarly with the stunt coordinator of Exit Wounds. Apparently, as the stunt manager trained DMX, Steven showed up and threw some of the guys around on mats. The manager then came up to Steven to introduce himself.

Steven Seagal is showing off his moves in a dojo.
Source: Facebook

“During the conversation, he moved to where he was standing square with me. So, while I was chatting with him, I slowly moved back to where I was semi sideways again. He moved again to square up with me. I’m thinking, ‘This is not happening.’ So, I switch to where my right foot was forward, turning sideways again in the other direction.” All the while, Steven had this “look” in his eyes.

His Entanglement With the Mafia

Steven Seagal starred in some outrageous movies; one of them he created. The actor made a whole film where he beats up some mobsters called Above The Law. This was the actor’s first starring role and the one that really put him on the map.

Steaven Seagal reaches across the bar to strangle a man in a still from the film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bos.

The role also got him noticed by actual real-life Mafia, who, Seagal learned, weren’t as nice or as weak as they’re shown to be in films. The mobsters tried to frighten Seagal and contacted his agent who warned them that the actor didn’t scare easily.

His Dubious Past

It’s not hard to see why Steven Seagal aspired to be a movie star. The actor loves coming up with stories. One of his tales goes like this: In 1968, when he was 14, Seagal was a student of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido.

Seagal and Sensei Aikido meditated together.
Source: Pinterest

If this is true, then Seagal was allegedly living on his own in Japan at just 14. While there are reports of the actor hanging around Morihei’s studio in the late ’60s, early ’70s, it’s unlikely that he was living there when Morihei was teaching.

He Helped Train CIA agents in Japan (?)

Another wacky tale of Steven’s is that he helped train CIA agents in Japan. In an interview with the LA Times, Steven stated: “They saw my abilities, both with martial arts and with the language. You could say that I became an advisor to several CIA agents in the field and through my friends in the CIA.”

Seagal is teaching a martial arts class.
Source: YouTube

Steven claimed that he trained several people who went on to become powerful and influential in the secret force field. Steven’s wife at the time denied that he was involved with the CIA, but then again, isn’t that exactly what they would want her to say?

He Credits Himself for Everything

Steven Seagal reportedly trained Anderson Silva and taught him the kick that knocked out Vitor Belfort. Not only that, but he also provided the right tactics that led to a KO on the first round during that championship battle.

Steven Segal wishes Anderson Silva good luck before his fight.
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

“I couldn’t have been happier, because right before he walked out, I said ‘stay away from him for the first 2 or 3 minutes… get him frustrated and then fake low and come high and do that kick that I’ve been teaching you, kick him to the head or the face.’ He did exactly what I said and exactly what I wanted to happen happened.”

He Took Credit for More Wins

During a talk with Jimmy Kimmel back in 2012, Steven Seagal gave himself credit for additional UFC wins. He said he taught Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida how to become incredible fighters. He showed them how to throw punches called “Ashi Sabaki.”

Steven Seagal and former boxing champion Mike Tyson look on during a fight.
Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

There’s also a signature kick that he taught them that has won them several world championships. Anderson Silva later dismissed Steven’s claims and decided to distance himself from the actor in 2013. Later, in 2015, a video was released showing Silva mocking Seagal’s training techniques.

A Mystical Dog Saved His Dojo

Apparently, while Steven Seagal was in Japan in the 1970s, he met a dog, and according to him, it was a mystical one. The martial artist described feeling as if he had known the animal, which was collarless and all white, his entire life. Seagal then spent several days living with the dog.

Steven Seagal visits a kennel in Taipei.
Photo by Thierry Falise/LightRocket/Getty Images

On the last day of his stay, the dog started barking frantically, alerting Steven that his aikido dojo was on fire. His barks allowed Steven and his fellow friends to put out the fire and save Steven’s aikido dojo. The dog then vanished, and Steven never saw him again.

He Cried Over His Own Script

According to a profile in Vanity Fair, an executive once walked into Seagal’s trailer and found Hollywood’s main man weeping. “Oh, I’m just reading this script,” Seagal explained, tears in his eyes, “It’s the most incredible one I’ve ever read.”

Steven Seagal is posing on set.
Photo by Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

The executive, who was incredibly curious to find out who in the world made Steven Seagal cry, said, “Incredible!” and then asked, “who wrote it?” Seagal lifted his gaze from the script and with misty eyes told him, “I did.” Yup…true story.

How Old Is Steven Seagal?

As of 2022, Steven Seagal is 69 years old. Now, why did we write Lord Steven in the title? Well, because some websites actually call him that, including IMDb.

Before you read further, keep in mind that the website IMDb is not Wikipedia, meaning that the copy you read there is heavily monitored and filtered through workers and image consultants. They make sure to present the celebrity in question in the best possible light.

Steven Seagal is seen in attendance during the UFC Fight.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Apart from giving him the nickname “Lord Steven,” IMDB wrote, Steven Seagal is a striking and somewhat boyishly handsome action star who burst onto the martial arts film scene in 1988… Seagal carries himself differently from other action stars and often appears wearing Italian designer clothes.”

He’s the Reincarnation of a Tibetan Treasure Revealer (?)

Tibetan Buddhist monk Penor Rinpoche is believed to be a reincarnation of the Indian monk Vimalamitra. After meeting Steven Seagal, he came out with a statement saying that he recognizes the martial artist as the reincarnation of Chungrag Dorje, a Buddhist who founded a Tibetan monastery.

Steven Seagal attends an enthronement ceremony for a young lama.
Photo by Francis Apesteguy/Getty Images

According to Penor Rinpoche: “In February of 1997 I recognized my student, Steven Seagal, as a reincarnation (tulku) of the treasure revealer Chungdrag Dorje…” A tulku is a reincarnation of a Buddhist master who, out of compassion, rebirthed in order to help all beings reach enlightenment.

He Shouldn’t Be Thought of as Holy

While Steven Seagal is recognized as the reincarnation of an important figure, Buddhist monk Penor Rinpoche clarified that the martial artist shouldn’t be treated as a holy person. So, while he’s been recognized as a tulku, he hasn’t been officially crowned as one.

Steven Seagal walks the ground of a Buddhist temple.
Photo by Francis Apesteguy/Getty Images

Steven also hasn’t gone through the lengthy process of practice and study in order to fully earn the status of a compassionate being who lives to care for others. Addressing Seagal’s career, Penor Rinpoche added:

“Some people think that because Steven Seagal is always acting in violent movies, how can he be a true Buddhist? Such movies are for temporary entertainment and do not relate to what is real and important.”

How Tall Is Steven Seagal?

Seagal is a towering 1.93 m. He’s tall, loud, and really hard to work with.

According to several sources, Steven Seagal made life really hard for the Saturday Night Live cast. He hosted the show back in 1991 and was reportedly “very critical of the cast and writing staff.” Tim Meadows stated that Seagal “didn’t realize that you can’t tell somebody they’re stupid on Wednesday and expect them to continue writing for you on Saturday.”

Steven Seagal arrives at the Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards.
Photo by Jeff R. Bottari/Getty Images

David Spade, who spent six years on the show, added that Seagal was the absolute worst host ever. And according to Julia Sweeney, he once wanted to perform a sketch where he acted as a therapist looking to sleep with a rape survivor. Is that supposed to be funny?

Ultimately, Seagal was banned from ever hosting again.

Steven’s Petulant Ways

Stephen Tobolowsky played with Steven Seagal in The Glimmer Man, and after spending some time with him, realized how frustrating the actor truly was. In the film, Tobolowsky played a serial killer. Naturally, Seagal was supposed to beat his a**.

Stephen Tobolowsky attends the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

But Seagal reached the conclusion that it was “bad for his karma” to murder people on camera. So he wanted Tobolowsky to survive. Tobolowsky told Seagal that by killing his character, he would be allowing the bad guy to reincarnate as a more peaceful fellow. Seagal agreed, but then ad-libbed the line “Thank God, I didn’t kill him…” As a result, Tobolowsky had to record several more lines to make it seem like his character (who was obviously dead) had actually made it out alive.

Steven Seagal vs. James Bond

In addition to starring in films, Steven Seagal has also worked on quite a bit of fight choreography. According to his IMDb profile, most of the movies he’s worked on are his own; however, in the early ’80s, Seagal joined the crew of the James Bond film Never Say Never Again and was called on board to teach Sean Connery a thing or two about martial arts.

Sean Connery as secret agent 007, James Bond, in the movie Goldfinger.
Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

By then, Sean Connery had done some karate in his life. While training for 1967’s You Only Live Twice, he earned an honorary third-degree black belt. However, for his seventh time as Bond, the actor needed to learn aikido, and Steven was the man hired to do the job.

Seagal Broke His Arm

Initially, the lessons seemed to be going well. “Too well,” Connery stated. “I got a little cocky because I thought I knew what I was doing.” But then, Seagal got irritated, grabbed Connery’s arm, and actually broke the actor’s wrist.

Seagal is in a fighting stance.
Source: YouTube

Even though he was clearly in pain, Sean Connery kept on training. In fact, he didn’t even realize that Steven had snapped his arm until years later. That must have been one slow-healing injury, courtesy of Steven Seagal.

Steven Seagal and the Dirty Dozen

In his prime years, Steven Seagal was considered the biggest martial artist in all of Hollywood. However, that doesn’t mean he could battle in real life. The truth of the matter is, he can’t. When it comes down to it, aikido, a martial art that relies on joint locks, is pretty worthless when it comes to self-defense.

Steven Seagal throws a knife in a still from a film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox

According to fight analyst Jack Slack, this martial art only works if your “opponent is running straight at you,” a move that most fighters never do. Joe Rogan added to the argument, explaining that aikido “would never work against a trained fighter, never, not in a million years.”

He Claimed He Could Beat Anyone

Unsurprisingly, Steven Seagal came out with a claim that he could battle anyone, anywhere, anytime. Seagal also made some controversial statements about legends like Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. His comments didn’t sit well with Bob Wall, who was good friends with Norris and had worked with Lee before.

Seagal is fighting another man in a still from a film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bos.

To teach him a lesson, Wall called in the “Dirty Dozen,” a group of kickboxing and karate champs like Benny Urquidez, Bill Wallace, and Howard Jackson. In order to get Seagal’s attention, the Dozen starred in magazines like Prevue and Black Belt. However, despite their best efforts, no showdown ever happened.

The Gambino Crime Family

Steven Seagal has fought against all sorts of villains on the silver screen, from terrorists to the yakuza. However, he’s also had to face some bad guys in real life, like the Mafia, for example.

Steven Seagal and Julius R. Nasso.
Source: Twitter

In the 1990s, Steven Seagal became good friends with producer Julius R. Nasso and began working with him on several films. While the duo released a string of hits, their relationship ended in 2000. Eventually, they parted ways, but things took a turn for the worse when the Gambino crime family got involved.

They Forced Him to Join Forces With Nasso Again

One day, Seagal was led into a car and escorted to a restaurant in Brooklyn where he would meet with an alleged Gambino captain by the name of Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone. According to Seagal, Sonny ordered him to reconnect with Nasso. He also demanded that the actor hand him $150,000 for every movie he released.

Anthony
Source: Pinterest

Apparently, Steven Seagal was so shaken that he gave Sonny and his fellow gangsters about $700,000. Indeed, he had every reason to be scared. As he left the restaurant, someone allegedly whispered into Seagal’s ear, “If you would have said the wrong thing, they would have killed you.”

They Laughed at Him

The whole Nasso threat scandal came to light in 2003, after crime master Peter Gotti and 16 of his people were arrested for doing a whole bunch of crimes. During the trial, Siccone and Nasso laughed about how they planned to intimidate Seagal.

Steven Seagal and Nasso on a film set.
Source: YouTube

In his defense, Nasso said that Seagal had backed out of several film deals they had agreed on and that the actor owed him $500,000 for all the cancellations. Regardless, Nasso was sent to one year in prison. After he got out of jail, he demanded Seagal hand him over additional money, and according to a few sources, they settled for an undisclosed amount.

Seagal vs. the FBI

Back in the day, Steven Seagal’s films racked in impressive box office numbers. However, nowadays, he’s not starring in anything impressive. So, what really happened to Seagal’s career? Well, he blames his downfall on the FBI.

A photo of Anita Busch.
Source: Newsweek

In 2002, a reporter from The Los Angeles Times named Anita Busch was investigating the whole Nasso Seagal Mafia mess. And one day, she spotted a rose, a fish, and a “Stop!” sign on her windshield. Oh, and there were also some bullet holes in her car. Terrified, she informed the FBI…

They Began Investigating Seagal

Following Anita’s call, the feds started investigating Seagal. In the beginning, the FBI believed that the martial artist had hired a detective named Anthony Pellicano to stalk and frighten Busch. But after digging deeper, they concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest him.

Steven Seagal attends the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
Photo by Kristina Nikishina/Getty Images

Afterward, they focused on Pellicano instead. Seagal believes that the notoriety he received from the case harmed his career. According to one publicist, that’s completely true. “[The] accusations certainly hastened his decline,” he reported.

Where Does Steven Seagal Live?

According to several sources, Steven Seagal lives in Russia. Another thing not many people know about the guy is that he’s really into blues music.

Yup, as turns out, his hands aren’t only for snapping peoples’ wrists, they’re also for producing sweet music. He absolutely loves playing blues. He’s been playing guitar since he was 12 and at one point, was the leader of the Steven Seagal Blues Band.

B.B. King and Steven Seagal during Grand Opening B.B. Kings Blues Club.
Photo by R. Diamond/WireImage/Getty Images

In 2005, he released his first album, Songs From the Crystal Cave. SputnikMusic described the album as “the Plan 9 From Outer Space of records,” likely because of the lethal combination of Seagal’s voice and the not-so-impressive six-string noodling.

Had Hid a Gun Under His Sofa

In 2018, actress Julianna Margulies guest starred on The Katie Couric Podcast, where she discussed the #MeToo movement. She shared a bunch of gross encounters she had endured, including a “horrific hotel room meeting” she had with Steven Seagal in the early ’90s.

Steven Seagal at the Clive Davis annual Grammy party.
Photo by Chris Farina/Corbis/Getty Images

She was told that the actor wanted to go over a scene with her in his hotel room. She sat on the couch and quickly jumped up because she felt something hard and uncomfortable poking at her. Seagal laughed and said, “Oh, that must have been my gun.”

Things Got Even Weirder

According to Julianna, Seagal claimed he was a healer. He then asked to read the starlet’s palms. He told her she had terribly weak kidneys, and as a cynical New Yorker, she started laughing inside. Shortly after, the actress said that she “squirmed” her way out of the room.

Steven Seagal, Martin Short and Steve Martin attendig the premiere of 'Bowfinger'.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Unfortunately, once she was out of the room, Julianna realized that she was out of cash and that she hadn’t been handed the taxi fare she had been promised. So, she went back inside his room and asked for it. Luckily, she got the cash, as well as the part in the film Out for Justice. But she demanded never to be alone on set with Seagal again.

Is Katey Sagal Related to Steven Seagal?

Steven Seagal’s sister is named Brenda Seagal. Now, some people have made the mistake and connected award-winning actress Katie Sagal to the family tree as well. However, they’re completely unrelated.

Katey Sagal speaks onstage at the
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Moreover, their surnames aren’t even spelled the same. Steven and his sister were born to mother Patricia and father Samuel. Their mom worked as a medical technician and their dad worked as a mathematics teacher.