65-year-old Steven Seagal was born in Michigan in 1952. Since being fascinated by martial arts from a very young age, Seagal has used it in various aspects of his life.
His list of wives and girlfriends is longer than most people’s Christmas list, and he’s had numerous children both in and out of wedlock.
Yet Seagal wears a number of faces that you can’t even imagine, which makes his life, his romances and his career one of the most captivating stories in Hollywood.
Fighting to the top
One thing a lot of people might not know about Seagal is how hard of a worker he is. At the ripe young age of 13, he lied about his age in order to land himself a job at a Japanese restaurant. One of the cooks – who happened to be a karate expert – picked up on how quickly he moved around in the kitchen, and it was then that Seagal began his training. Years later when Seagal was in his 20s, he moved to Japan with his father, where he continued his training.
Making a name for himself in Japan
Seagal lived in Japan for 15 years, and eventually earned himself his first dan under the direction of his mentor, Koichi Tohei. He continued to master his Aikido and eventually attained his seventh dan degree. More impressively still, Seagal later operated his own aikido dojo, and became the first foreigner to operate this type of martial arts studio in Japan. Although he wasn’t about to let go of his American roots just yet, as he also taught English while in Japan.
Following his heart
Seagal met his first wife, Miyako Fujitani, after he returned to California in 1974. Fujitani was a aikido teacher in L.A, but the pair returned to her native country of Japan to tie the knot and start their lives together. Just like a good movie storyline, when Miyako’s dad retired, Seagal took over his father in law’s aikido school and became the head of Tenshin Aikido in Osaka City. When Seagal returned to the U.S for the second time, he opened an aikido dojo together with his student in Califronia which was later moved to West Hollywood.
Being an aikido instructor is more than just teaching martial arts and passing your talent and moves to others. Unlike his fellow action film actors, Bruce Lee, Jean-Claude Van Damme or even Chuck Norris, who practiced offense mainly, for Seagal, his aikido was about defending, self-control and respect.
Action star success
The first time Seagal met Michael Ovitz, a famous talent age in Hollywood, he had no idea that this was his golden ticket to stardom. Seagal co-wrote and starred in the 1988 movie Above the Law, which got him his first big break. Over the past 30 years, Seagal has landed more than 40 film roles and earned himself an impressive $2 billion in the box office.
Seagal arrived in Hollywood with the intent of becoming an aikido teacher and try his hand as a stunt coordinator. His rich history of martial arts training and teaching made him the perfect candidate for action movies at the time. He worked on The Challenge as a stunt coordinator back in 1982, and then was offered to work on the James Bond film from 1983, Never Say Never Again, where he was specifically hired to train the one and only Sean Connery.
Passionate love life
Not only was Seagal’s life packed with action on screen, he also led an exciting and passionate life when the cameras weren’t rolling. The action film star married four times and has a total of seven children. From his first wife, Miyako he has two children a son named Kentaro and a daughter named Ayako Fujitan. While his annulment from Miyako still wasn’t finalised yet, he went on to marry Days of Our Lives actress, Adrienne La Russa. No time like the present, apparently.
Banned for being a bad host
By the time the late 80s had rolled around, Seagal had already established himself as a big action star after starring in three action movies. However, that didn’t mean that he was to everyone’s liking. In 1991, Seagal was invited to host the funny sketch show, Saturday Night Live on its 1st season, but things turned sour quickly and one of the former cast members even regarded him as the worst host on the show. He was so bad in fact, that SNL banned Seagal for good.
It was reported that he acted in an awful way towards other members of the cast and pitched terrible ideas. Tim Meadows, SNL’s long-running cast member spoke once about his experience with the actor: ‘The biggest problem with Steven Seagal was that he would complain about jokes that he didn’t get…He just wasn’t funny and he was very critical of the cast and the writing staff..He didn’t realize that you can’t tell somebody they’re stupid on Wednesday and expect them to continue writing for you on Saturday.’
The worst actor awards
Some actors are widely hated and there’s nothing they can do about it. Seagal might have been known for his quick moves and artistic martial arts approaches, but he was never awarded for his ‘good’ work. Not only did the actor not win an Academy Award, but what he did win was so much worse. Seagal is the proud recipient of the Worst Director award from the 1995 Golden Raspberry Awards for On Deadly Ground and was nominated for Worst Actor/Director/Picture more than once. Ouch.
A messy divorce
Just like Seagal’s second wife Adrienne La Russa, he met his soon to be third wife, Kelly LeBrock, whilst he was still married. It was reported that he saw LeBrock when she starred in the 1984 film, The Woman in Red, and became infatuated with the actress. The couple started an affair and it wasn’t long before they were exposed as Kelly became pregnant with their first baby. Seagal’s marriage to La Russa was finally annulled and he married LeBrock in 1987. The couple had three children together; Annaliza, Dominic and Arissa.
A good man?
As the saying goes, they always go the same way they come – and Seagal was no different. LeBrock filed for divorce in 1994 citing ‘irreconcilable differences after she found out that her husband was having an affair with their nanny, Arrissa Wolf. The divorce was messy to say the least, and it was made a whole lot worse when LeBrock found out Seagal had a child with Arissa, a girl named Savannah.
Actress and model Kelly LeBrock pretty much ended her career right then and there. She said ‘When I split with Steven, the divorce was very ugly, and details of the case were on the evening news. I didn’t want my kids seeing it, so I simply got rid of the TV. I moved my kids out of LA so they could grow up with real people..I had absolutely no self-esteem..I feared everything and didn’t want to leave the house.’
Seagal worked with up and coming star Katherine Heigl on the set of the 1995 film Under Siege 2: Dark Territory when she was just 16-years-old. The actors caused a stir when a controversial photo was released of Seagal inappropriately placing his hand on the young actress’ shirt during the film’s premiere. Yet that isn’t the only thing that they have in common – it turns out that they’ve both made quite the bad name for themselves in the industry and many studios in Hollywood don’t want to work with either of them. Katherine is known for her out-of-control and overall nasty behaviour on set, and so is the action star.
It appears that the actor makes an easy job of killing his relationships on set. According to rumors, Seagal didn’t get along with the film’s director, Bruce Malmuth during filming of Hard to Kill. Apparently the actor was not satisfied with the filming nor with the action scenes and didn’t like the fact that he wasn’t included when they were editing the film. He once said about his former director that: ‘I think it’s a miracle that this guy can put one foot in front of the other.’
Forming a friendship
Seagal was hired numerous times as a choreographer on some of the 007 films. During the early 80s, he trained Sean Connery before later starring in Never Say Never Again, in which time he allegedly broke Connery’s wrist during filming. As a big actor on set, Connery never expected to be hurt – especially not whilst learning a little aikido while filming! Two years later however, all was forgiven and Seagal was rehired to work on A View to Kill.
It was only a matter of time before Seagal took his onscreen art and turned it into reality. He did exactly that back in 2011, when he became the new deputy sheriff of the Hudspeth County Sheriff department in Texas. That department in particular is responsible for patrolling along the Texas-Mexico border, and the action film star took his job very seriously. The actor applied for the job a couple of months before he was accepted and has used his martial arts skills and his knowledge of aikido to help secure the border.
The FBI’s fault
Regardless of being part of some of the highest-grossing action films ever made, Seagal saw his movies ending up at the back of everyone’s DVD collection. Weirdly enough, instead of looking at his own success, Seagal blames his decline on the FBI. The actor was investigated by the law enforcement agency for a weird case back in 2012, and although it was concluded that he was in fact innocent, Seagal believes that the case caused him his career.
The pony tail
Actors and actresses are often recognised for something unique – think J-Lo’s booty or Burt Reynold’s moustache. Seagal on the other hand was known for his ponytail. Whilst his luscious lock changed slightly over the years, it became one of his most memorable features.
It turns out Seagal is quite the entrepreneur. In 2005, the action star decided to market his mad action skills through his own line of products under Seagal Enterprises. One of these products was the Steven Seagal’s Lightning Bolt. Seagal was quoted saying about his energy drink in one of the press conferences: ‘I have traveled the world creating this drink; there is none better that I know.’
It turns out that this actor isn’t just talented at martial arts. Seagal has been playing the guitar since he was just 12-years-old, and he was even head of the Steven Seagal Blues Band. His songs have actually been featured in many of his movies including Ticker and Fire Down Below.
Above the law
Seagal took his role within law enforcement one step further in 2008 when A&E announced that the taping of Steven Seagal: Lawman had started. The reality show debuted in December 2009 and followed Seagal through his work in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. It had more than 3 million viewers on the night it was premiered and was ranked as the best season opener for an A&E original series in history.
He might be most commonly known as a big action star, but Seagal had dedicated his personal life to the faith of Buddhism. He is a strong believer in reincarnation, and believes that he himself is the reincarnation of a teacher from the 17th century. Since he was just seven-years-old, Seagal has been interested in Eastern wisdom and considers himself a highly spiritual being.
Seagal landed the role Elijah Kane on a television show called True Justice, where he in charge of the Special Investigation Unit is Seattle, Washington. The show only ran for two seasons and totalled 26 episodes, which were mainly aired in the UK.