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Steven Seagal

Steven Seagal is a movie star, action hero, seventh degree black belt Aikido master – and international icon.

As a youngster, Seagal had a passion for music and an obsession for martial arts, and he commenced martial arts training at the age of seven. He dedicated himself to the study of martial arts with various instructors, eventually focusing on the study of Aikido, known as the art of divine harmony. Along the way, Seagal discovered Asian religion, philosophy and ancient healing practices. At 17, he left Detroit for Japan, to fulfill his dreams. Seagal studied acupuncture, herbology and martial arts. He became an ushi-deshi, a student who lives and works in a dojo – a school for martial arts. After years of study, Seagal earned a seventh degree black belt and was given masters' credentials in Aikido. In 1975 he became the first westerner to open his own dojo in Japan. Seagal is a man who found his spiritual path early in life and has never lost the trail.

In 1985 Seagal felt it was time to broaden his horizons and left Japan to return to the United States, believing he would do healing, martial arts and writing. He opened a dojo in Los Angeles, attracting Hollywood heavyweights like Sean Connery, James Coburn and agent Michael Ovitz. With the high-octane action movie genre in full swing in the late 80s, Ovitz introduced Seagal to the then head of Warner Bros. Pictures, Terry Semel, who had the foresight to put Seagal on the big screen. Warner Bros.' Above the Law was Seagal's debut film in 1988. He played Niko, a Chicago vice officer who uncovered ties between the CIA and drug dealers. His partner was played by Pam Grier and his wife was played by Sharon Stone. With a background in martial arts and CIA connections in Vietnam, the character was an explosive hero like no one had seen before. This unknown martial artist not only starred in, but co-wrote and co-produced Above the Law. It went on to become a blockbuster and launched Seagal's career as an actor, writer, star and force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.

Seagal followed up that surprise hit with another action-packed success, Hard to Kill, with Kelly LeBrock, in which Seagal played a police officer up against the mob. He produced and starred in his third film, Marked for Death, which continued his winning streak. He played an officer for the drug-enforcement agency who comes out of retirement and goes up against drug lords. This was followed by Out for Justice, co-starring William Forsythe, as a psychotic mob gangster, and the late Jerry Orbach. Seagal knew how to keep the action and the story hot when he produced Under Siege. Disguised as a cook, his Navy Seal character battled psychotic specialists threatening an all-out military war, playing opposite Tommy Lee Jones, who had just been nominated for an Academy Award for JFK. Using his box-office clout, Seagal began to influence his films to reflect his personal and spiritual beliefs, especially regarding the abuse of the environment. Seagal went on to direct, produce and star in On Deadly Ground, a story about a threat to the Alaskan environment from an oil company and its ruthless and unscrupulous head, played by Michael Caine.

As actor and producer, Seagal filmed Under Siege 2: Dark Territory with Eric Bogosian and Morris Chestnut; the buddy-cop film The Glimmer Man with Keenan Ivory Wayans; Fire Down Below with Marg Helgenberger, Kris Kristofferson and Harry Dean Stanton; The Patriot with Camilla Belle; Half Past Dead, The Foreigner, Out for a Kill and Belly of the Beast.

Seagal's actor/executive producer credits include Out of Reach and The Path Beyond Thought. He starred in Exit Wounds with DMX, Isaiah Washington and Anthony Anderson, Ticker with Tom Sizemore and Dennis Hopper; and appeared as a Navy Seal alongside CIA analyst Kurt Russell in Executive Decision.

In 2004, Seagal finally had the opportunity to make a film in his spiritual home of Japan, adding an element of his Buddhist faith when he wrote and starred in Into the Sun. Seagal has been the martial arts choreographer or coordinator on many of his films.

Music adds a new cord to the actor's arc. Seagal got his first guitar at the age of 12 and has been playing the blues since. He has honed his craft over the years, sharing his love for the blues and jamming with the most prolific blues legends in the industry. But it was not until Seagal's mother influenced him to let the world hear his music, that he released his first album, Songs from The Crystal Cave, in 2004. The CD contains titles for the American ultra consonances of blues and folk music, as well as the song world of Reggae and Middle Easternn music. Included on the CD are B.B. King and Stevie Wonder, among other music greats. Like Songs From the Crystal Cave, his latest release, Mojo Priest, celebrates the power of many of the musical influences that have compelled Seagal to write and bring the art of storytelling to his songs. Critically acclaimed, Mojo Priest captures the essence of not only Seagal's smooth yet gritty guitar style, but also the essence of blues greats such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Robert Lockwood Jr, Ko Ko Taylor, James Cotton, Willie Pine Top Perkins and Hubert Sumlin. Seagal is an accomplished guitar player and his natural talent and commitment to capture blues in a traditional and meaningful manner is evident in the music he writes and plays.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2011.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Steven Seagal Facts

OccupationActor, Producer, Screenwriter
BirthdayApril 10, 1951 (72)
BirthplaceDetroit, Michigan, USA
Height6' 4" (1m93)  How tall is Steven Seagal compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Under Siege
Above the Law
Executive Decision
On Deadly Ground
The Glimmer Man
Fire Down Below
Out For Justice
Contract to Kill
The Perfect Weapon
End of a Gun
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