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Steven Seagal
Steven Seagal November 2016.jpg
Seagal in 2016
Steven Frederic Seagal

(1952-04-10) April 10, 1952 (age 71)
  • American
  • Serbian
  • Russian
Alma mater Fullerton College
  • Actor
  • writer
  • producer
  • martial artist
  • musician
Years active 1982–present
Style Aikido
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
  • Miyako Fujitani
    (m. 1975; div. 1986)
  • Adrienne La Russa
    (m. 1984; ann. 1984)
  • Kelly LeBrock
    (m. 1987; div. 1996)
  • Erdenetuya Batsukh
    (m. 2009)
Children 7, including Ayako Fujitani

Steven Frederic Seagal ( born April 10, 1952) is an American and naturalized Russian actor, screenwriter, and martial artist. A 7th-dan black belt in aikido, he began his adult life as a martial arts instructor in Japan and eventually ended up running his father-in-law's dojo. He later moved to Los Angeles where he had the same profession. In 1988, Seagal made his acting debut in Above the Law. By 1991, he had starred in four films.

In 1992, he played Navy SEAL counter-terrorist expert Casey Ryback in Under Siege. During the latter half of the 1990s, Seagal starred in three more feature films and the direct-to-video film The Patriot. Subsequently, his career shifted to mostly direct-to-video productions. He has since appeared in films and reality shows, including Steven Seagal: Lawman, which depicted Seagal performing duties as a reserve deputy sheriff.

Seagal is a guitarist and has released two studio albums, Songs from the Crystal Cave and Mojo Priest, and performed on the scores of several of his films. He has worked with Stevie Wonder and Tony Rebel, who both performed on his debut album. He has been involved in a line of "therapeutic oil" products and energy drinks. Seagal is an environmentalist, animal rights activist, and supporter of 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso.

Early life

Steven Frederic Seagal was born in Lansing, Michigan, on April 10, 1952, the son of a medical technician and a mathematics teacher. His mother was of Irish descent, while his father was Jewish. His paternal grandparents were Russian Jewish immigrants. During an interview for the Russian talk show Let Them Talk, Seagal stated that he has paternal ancestors from the Siberian city of Vladivostok, as well as Belarus and Saint Petersburg. He stated that genetic testing determined that he has Yakut and Buryat ancestry as well.

When he was five years old, he moved with his parents to Fullerton, California. His mother later told People magazine that prior to the move Seagal was frail and suffered from asthma: "He was a puny kid back then. But he really thrived after the move [from Michigan]." Seagal attended Buena Park High School in Buena Park, California, and Fullerton College between 1970 and 1971. As a teen, he spent much time in his garage listening to loud rock music. While working with a friendly old Japanese man at a dojo in Garden Grove he was encouraged to visit Japan.

Martial arts

Seagal moved to Japan at some point between 1971 and 1973. By 1974, he had returned to California. That year he met Miyako Fujitani, a second-degree black belt and daughter of an Osaka aikido master who had come to Los Angeles to teach aikido. When Miyako returned to Osaka, Seagal went with her. In 1975 they married and had a son, Kentaro, and a daughter, Ayako. He taught at the school owned by Miyako's family. As of 1990, Miyako and her brother still taught there, and her mother was the chairwoman.

Seagal returned to Taos, New Mexico, with his student (and later film stuntman) Craig Dunn, where they opened a dojo, although Seagal spent much of his time pursuing other ventures. After another period in Japan, Seagal returned to the U.S. in 1983 with senior student Haruo Matsuoka. They opened an aikido dojo, initially in North Hollywood, California, but later moved it to the city of West Hollywood. Seagal left Matsuoka in charge of the dojo, which the latter ran until the two parted ways in 1997.

Seagal helped train Brazilian mixed martial artist Lyoto Machida, who credited Seagal for helping him perfect the front kick that he used to knock out Randy Couture at UFC 129 in May 2011.



In 1987, Seagal began work on his first film, Above the Law (titled Nico in Europe), with director Andrew Davis. Following its success, Seagal's subsequent movies were Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, and Out for Justice; all were box office hits, making him an action hero. Later, he achieved wider, mainstream success in 1992 with the release of Under Siege (1992), which reunited Seagal with director Andrew Davis.

On April 20, 1991, Seagal hosted Season 16 Episode 18 of Saturday Night Live. The series' long-time executive producer Lorne Michaels and cast-members David Spade and Tim Meadows called Seagal the show's worst host ever. Spade and Meadows cited Seagal's humorlessness, his ill-treatment of the cast and writers, and his refusal to do a "Hans and Franz" sketch because the skit's title characters had previously said that they could "beat up Steven Seagal". Seagal has never been invited back to the show. Meadows commented, "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 cast and crew's difficulties with Seagal were later echoed on-air by Michaels during guest host Nicolas Cage's monologue in the September 26, 1992, Season 18 premiere. When Cage worried that he would do so poorly that the audience would regard him as "the biggest jerk who's ever been on the show", Michaels replied: "No, no. That would be Steven Seagal."

Seagal directed and starred in On Deadly Ground (1994), featuring Michael Caine, R. Lee Ermey, and Billy Bob Thornton in minor supporting roles. The film emphasized environmental and spiritual themes, signaling a break with his previous persona as a genre-ready inner-city cop. On Deadly Ground was poorly received by critics, especially denouncing Seagal's long environmental speech in the film. Regardless, Seagal considers it one of the most important and relevant moments in his career. Seagal followed this with a sequel to one of his most successful films, Under Siege, titled Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995).

In 1996, he had a role in the Kurt Russell film Executive Decision, portraying a special ops soldier who appears in only the film's first 45 minutes. The same year, he filmed a police drama The Glimmer Man (1996). In another environmentally conscious and commercially unsuccessful film, Fire Down Below (1997), he played an EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance agent fighting industrialists dumping toxic waste in the Kentucky hills.

In 1998, Seagal made The Patriot, another environmental thriller which was his first direct-to-video release in the United States (though it was released theatrically in most of the world). Seagal produced this film with his own money, and the film was shot on-location on and near his farm in Montana.

After producing Prince of Central Park, Seagal returned to cinema screens with the release of Exit Wounds in March 2001. The film had fewer martial arts scenes than Seagal's previous films, but it was a commercial success, taking almost $80 million worldwide. It was considered at the time to be a "comeback" for Seagal. However, Seagal was unable to capitalize on this success and his next two projects were both critical and commercial failures. The movie Ticker, co-starring Tom Sizemore and Dennis Hopper, was filmed in San Francisco before Exit Wounds, and went straight to DVD. Half Past Dead, starring hip hop star Ja Rule, made less than $20 million worldwide.

2003 to present day: direct-to-video films and television

Other than his role as a villain in Robert Rodriguez's Machete (2010), almost all the films Seagal has made since the latter half of 2001 have been released direct-to-video (DTV) in North America, with some theatrical releases to other countries around the world. Seagal is credited as a producer and sometimes a writer on many of these DTV movies, which include Black Dawn, Belly of the Beast, Out of Reach, Submerged, Kill Switch, Urban Justice, Pistol Whipped, Against the Dark, Driven to Kill, A Dangerous Man, Born to Raise Hell, and The Keeper. Beyond the Law (2019) is one of Seagal's very few movies to have enjoyed a theater release in North America since Machete.

In 2009, A&E Network premiered the reality television series Steven Seagal: Lawman, focusing on Seagal as a deputy in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.

In the 2010s, Seagal's direct-to-video films increasingly started to become ensemble pieces, with Seagal playing minor or supporting roles, despite the fact that he often received top billing. Maximum Conviction, Force of Execution, Gutshot Straight, Code of Honor, Sniper Special Ops, The Asian Connection, The Perfect Weapon, Cartels, and China Salesman all exemplify this trend. This has led some commentators to criticize Seagal for his low-effort participation in movies which heavily promote his involvement.

Steven Seagal at Astana Action Film Festival
Seagal speaking at the Astana International Action Film Festival, July 2011

In 2011, Seagal produced and starred in an American television action series entitled True Justice. The series first aired on Nitro, a TV station in Spain, on May 12, 2011. It premiered in the UK on 5 USA, with the first episode broadcast July 20, 2011. April 26, 2012 the series was renewed for a second season airing on ReelzChannel July 4, 2012. In the UK, True Justice has been repackaged as a series of DVD "movies," with each disc editing together two episodes.

Other ventures


Steven Seagal 3
Seagal in 2007

Seagal plays the guitar. His songs have been featured in several of his movies, including Fire Down Below and Ticker. Among his extensive collection are guitars previously owned by "the Kings"; Albert, BB, and Freddie, as well as Bo Diddley, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix.

In 2005, he released his first album, Songs from the Crystal Cave, which has a mix of pop, world, country, and blues music. It features duets with Tony Rebel, Lt. Stichie, Lady Saw, and Stevie Wonder. The soundtrack to Seagal's 2005 film Into the Sun features several songs from the album. One of his album tracks, "Girl It's Alright", was also released as a single in several countries alongside an accompanying music video. Seagal's second album, titled Mojo Priest, was released in April 2006. Subsequently, he spent the summer of 2006 touring the United States and Europe with his band, Thunderbox, in support of the album.

Law enforcement work

Seagal has been a Reserve Deputy Chief in the Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff's Office. In the late 1980s, after teaching the deputies martial arts, unarmed combat, and marksmanship, then-sheriff Harry Lee (1932–2007) asked Seagal to join the force. Seagal's rank in Louisiana was ceremonial.

Steven Seagal: Lawman, a series which follows his work in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, premiered on A&E on December 2, 2009. Seagal stated that "I've decided to work with A&E on this series now because I believe it's important to show the nation all the positive work being accomplished here in Louisiana—to see the passion and commitment that comes from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in this post-Katrina environment." The series premiere drew 3.6 million viewers, ranking as best season opener for any original A&E series ever.

Production on Season 3 started in February 2011, with a change of location from Louisiana to Maricopa County, Arizona. Two episodes were scheduled to be aired, beginning on January 4, 2012. Shortly before the episodes were to be aired, Season 3 was suspended, with no explanations given. Season 3 premiered on January 2, 2014, but the show was not renewed for a fourth season.

In October 2011, Seagal was sworn-in as the Sheriff department’s deputy sheriff of Hudspeth County, Texas, a law department responsible for patrolling a 98-mile stretch of the Texas-Mexico border.

Business ventures

In 2005, Seagal Enterprises began to market an energy drink known as "Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt", but it has since been discontinued. Seagal has also marketed an aftershave called "Scent of Action", and a range of knives and weapons.

In 2013, Seagal joined newly formed Russian firearms manufacturer ORSIS, representing the company in both a promotional capacity as well as lobbying for the easement of US import restrictions on Russian sporting firearms. It was also announced he would work with the company to develop a signature long-range rifle known provisionally as "ORSIS by Steven Seagal".

Personal life

Seagal has an extensive sword collection, and at one time had a custom gun made for him once a month.

Steven Seagal Russia 2016
Seagal signing his Russian passport, November 2016

Seagal reportedly holds citizenships in three countries: the United States, Serbia, and Russia. Born in the United States, he possesses jus soli U.S. citizenship. He was granted Serbian citizenship on January 11, 2016, following several visits to the country, and has been asked to teach aikido to the Serbian Special Forces.

Seagal was granted Russian citizenship on November 3, 2016.

Steven Seagal Vancouver
Seagal introduces his wife, Elle, to Matthieu Ricard, January 2008.

While in Japan, Seagal married his first wife, Miyako Fujitani, the daughter of an aikido instructor. With Fujitani, he had a son, actor and model Kentaro Seagal, and a daughter, writer and actress Ayako Fujitani. Seagal left Miyako to move back to the United States.

During this time, he met actress and model Kelly LeBrock, with whom he began an affair that led to Fujitani's granting him a divorce. Seagal was briefly married to actress Adrienne La Russa in 1984, but that marriage was annulled the same year over concerns that his divorce had not yet been finalized. LeBrock gave birth to Seagal's daughter Annaliza in early 1987. Seagal and LeBrock married in September 1987 and their son Dominic was born in June 1990. Their daughter Arissa was born in 1993. The following year, LeBrock filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences".

Seagal is married to Mongolian Erdenetuya Batsukh (Mongolian: Батсүхийн Эрдэнэтуяа), better known as "Elle". They have one son together, Kunzang. From an early age, Elle trained as a dancer at the Children's Palace in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. After her graduation from high school and the Children's Palace, she pursued a career as a professional dancer. She won a number of dancing contests and was considered the top female dancer in Mongolia, excelling at ballroom dancing in particular. Elle first met Seagal in 2001, when she worked as his interpreter during his visit to Mongolia.

Seagal has seven children from four relationships, two grandchildren by his eldest son, Kentaro and one granddaughter by his daughter Ayako Fujitani. In addition to his biological offspring, Seagal is the guardian of Yabshi Pan Rinzinwangmo, the only child of the 10th Panchen Lama of Tibet. When she studied in the United States, Seagal was her minder and bodyguard.

Political views and activism

Seagal lent his voice as a narrator for an activist film project, Medicine Lake Video. The project seeks to protect sacred tribal ground near Seagal's ranch in Siskiyou County. He also wrote an open letter to the leadership of Thailand in 2003, urging them to enact a law to prevent the torture of baby elephants. In 1999, Seagal was awarded a PETA Humanitarian Award.

Актёр Стивен Сигал, Владимир Путин и многократный чемпион мира по смешанным единоборствам Фёдор Емельяненко - 2
Seagal and Vladimir Putin attending a Russian martial arts championship, August 2012
Vladimir Putin in the Oceanarium on the Russky island (2015-09-04) 07
Seagal and Putin meeting at the aquarium on Russkiy Island, September 2015

In a March 2014 interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Seagal described Vladimir Putin as "one of the great living world leaders". He expressed support for the annexation of Crimea by Russia. In July 2014, following calls for a boycott, Seagal was dropped from the lineup of the August Blues Festival in Haapsalu, Estonia. The Estonian musician Tõnis Mägi, the minister of Foreign Affairs, Urmas Paet, and Parliament's Foreign Affairs chairman Marko Mihkelson had all condemned inviting Seagal into the country, with Paet saying, "Steven Seagal has tried to actively participate in politics during the past few months and has done it in a way which is unacceptable to the majority of the world that respects democracy and the rule of law."

Seagal visited the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2015 and met with the country's long-time president, Ilham Aliyev. Seagal has expressed support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and dispute with neighboring Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Seagal spoke out against the protests during the United States national anthem by professional athletes, stating, "I believe in free speech, I believe that everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but I don't agree that they should hold the United States of America or the world hostage by taking a venue where people are tuning in to watch a football game and imposing their political views."

In 2017, Seagal collaborated with a former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, Tom Morrissey, in writing a self-published conspiracy thriller novel, The Way of the Shadow Wolves: The Deep State And The Hijacking Of America.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte does his signature pose with actor Steven Seagal who met with the President in Malacañan Palace on October 12, 2017 (RODRIGUEZ5)
Seagal with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on October 12, 2017

In 2021, Seagal gave a katana to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as Russia's Foreign Affairs Ministry special envoy while visiting Canaima National Park. Maduro referred to Seagal as "my brother."

On May 30, 2021, the pro-Kremlin systemic opposition party A Just Russia — Patriots — For Truth announced that Seagal had received an official membership card to the party.

On February 27, 2023, he received the Russian Order of Friendship from Vladimir Putin for his "major contribution to the development of international cultural and humanitarian cooperation".


Year Film Functioned as Notes
Martial arts instructor Choreographer Stunt coordinator
1982 The Challenge No No Yes Credited as "Steve Seagal".
1983 Never Say Never Again Yes No No Uncredited
Seagal accidentally broke Sean Connery's wrist during production.
1985 A View to a Kill No Yes No
1988 Above the Law No No Yes
1990 Hard to Kill No Yes Yes
1990 Marked for Death No No Yes
2013 Force of Execution No Yes No



Year Film Functioned as Notes
Director Producer Writer Music Actor Role
1988 Above the Law No Yes No No Yes Nico Toscani
1990 Hard to Kill No No No No Yes Mason Storm
Marked for Death No Yes No Yes Yes John Hatcher
1991 Out for Justice No Yes No Yes Yes Det. Gino Felino
1992 Under Siege No Yes No No Yes Casey Ryback
1994 On Deadly Ground Yes Yes No No Yes Forrest Taft Only feature film directorial credit.
1995 Under Siege 2: Dark Territory No Yes No Yes Yes Casey Ryback Sequel to Under Siege.
1996 Executive Decision No No No No Yes Lt. Colonel Austin Travis Supporting role
The Glimmer Man No Yes No Yes Yes Lt. Jack Cole
1997 Fire Down Below No Yes No Yes Yes Jack Taggart
1998 My Giant No No No No Yes Himself Cameo
The Patriot No Yes No No Yes Dr. Wesley McClaren Direct-to-video
Not Even The Trees No Yes No No No Direct-to-video
2000 Prince of Central Park No Yes No No No Direct-to-video
2001 The Path Beyond Thought No Yes No No Yes Himself/narrator Documentary
Executive producer
Exit Wounds No No No No Yes Orin Boyd
Ticker No No No Yes Yes Frank Glass Limited release
2002 Half Past Dead No Yes No No Yes Sasha Petrosevitch
2003 The Foreigner No Yes No No Yes Jonathan Cold Direct-to-video
Out for a Kill No Yes No No Yes Prof. Robert Burns Direct-to-video
Belly of the Beast No Yes No No Yes Jake Hopper Direct-to-video
2004 Out of Reach No No No No Yes William Lansing Direct-to-video
Clementine No No No No Yes Jack Miller Limited release
2005 Into the Sun No No Yes Yes Yes Travis Hunter Direct-to-video
Also received "story by" credit.
Submerged No No No No Yes Chris Cody Direct-to-video
Today You Die No Yes No No Yes Harlan Banks Direct-to-video
Dragon Squad No Yes No No No Limited release
Black Dawn No Yes No No Yes Jonathan Cold Direct-to-video
Sequel to The Foreigner.
2006 Mercenary for Justice No No No No Yes John Seeger Direct-to-video
Shadow Man No Yes Yes No Yes Jack Foster Direct-to-video
Attack Force No Yes Yes No Yes Cmdr. Marshall Lawson Direct-to-video
2007 Flight of Fury No No Yes No Yes John Sands Direct-to-video
Urban Justice No Yes No No Yes Simon Ballister Direct-to-video
2008 Pistol Whipped No Yes No No Yes Matt Conlin Direct-to-video
The Onion Movie No No No No Yes Cock Puncher Direct-to-video
Supporting role
Kill Switch No Yes Yes No Yes Jacob King Direct-to-video
2009 Against the Dark No No No No Yes Tao Direct-to-video
Driven to Kill No No No No Yes Ruslan Drachev Direct-to-video
The Keeper No Yes Yes No Yes Roland Sallinger Direct-to-video
A Dangerous Man No No No No Yes Shane Daniels Direct-to-video
2010 Machete No No No No Yes Rogelio Torrez Seagal's first wide release since 2002.
Sheep Impact No No No No Yes Paul Weland Short film
Born to Raise Hell No Yes Yes No Yes Robert "Bobby" Samuels Direct-to-video
2012 Maximum Conviction No No No No Yes Cross Direct-to-video
2013 Force of Execution No Yes No No Yes John Alexander Direct-to-video
2014 A Good Man No Yes No No Yes John Alexander Direct-to-video
Prequel to Force of Execution.
Gutshot Straight No No No No Yes Paulie Trunks Direct-to-video
Supporting role
2015 Absolution No Yes No No Yes John Alexander Direct-to-video
Sequel to A Good Man.
2016 Code of Honor No Yes No No Yes Robert Sikes Direct-to-video
Sniper Special Ops No Yes No No Yes Jake Direct-to-video
The Asian Connection No Yes No No Yes Gan Sirankiri Direct-to-video
End of a Gun No Yes No No Yes Decker Direct-to-video
Contract to Kill No Yes No No Yes John Harmon Direct-to-video
The Perfect Weapon No Yes No No Yes The Director Direct-to-video
2017 Cartels No Yes No No Yes Harrison Limited release
China Salesman No No No No Yes Lauder
2018 Attrition No Yes No No Yes Axe Direct-to-video
2019 General Commander No No No No Yes Jack Alexander Direct-to-video
Beyond the Law No No No No Yes Augustino ‘Finn’ Adair Limited release


Year Film Functioned as Notes
Writer Executive producer Actor Role
1991 Saturday Night Live No No Yes Host Seagal hosted the episode "Steven Seagal/Michael Bolton".
The cast and crew found him difficult to work with, and the creator of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels, referred to him as the "worst host" ever.
2009–2014 Steven Seagal: Lawman No Yes Yes Himself Also creator
2011–2012 True Justice Yes Yes Yes Elijah Kane Also creator
2017 Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father No No Yes Himself Impromptu segment in Season 1, Episode 3

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Category Results
1995 On Deadly Ground Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Actor Nominated
Worst Picture (shared with Julius R. Nasso and A. Kitman Ho) Nominated
Worst Director Won
1997 Executive Decision Worst Supporting Actor Nominated
1998 Fire Down Below Worst Actor Nominated
Worst Picture (shared with Julius R. Nasso) Nominated
Worst Screen Couple (shared with "his guitar") Nominated
Worst Original Song (shared with Mark Collie for the song "Fire Down Below") Nominated
2003 Half Past Dead Worst Actor Nominated


  • 2005: Songs from the Crystal Cave
  • 2006: Mojo Priest

See also

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