Steven Seagal Biography

Actor, Martial Arts Expert (1952–)
Actor Steven Seagal is best known for his starring roles in martial arts films like 'Hard to Kill and 'Under Siege.'

Who Is Steven Seagal?

Born April 10, 1952, in Lansing, Michigan, Steven Seagal traveled to Japan at age 17 to teach English. He earned several black belts in martial arts and choreographed movie fight scenes for actors such as Sean Connery. When he moved back to the U.S., he worked as a bodyguard and martial arts instructor. He didn't get his start in films until he produced and starred in Above the Law (1988). From there, Seagal became one of the most sought after action stars of the 1990s.

Early Life

Actor and martial artist Steven Seagal was born on April 10, 1952, in Lansing, Michigan. The son of a nurse and a teacher, he started studying martial arts under Fumio Demura when he was a child. Seagal later traveled to Japan at the age of 17 where he taught English, studied Zen and perfected his martial arts, eventually earning black belts in aikido, karate, judo and kendo.

Roles in Action Films

Seagal spent 15 years in Asia, studying Eastern philosophy and occasionally choreographing martial arts fight scenes in movies, having worked with stars such as Sean Connery and Toshiro Mifune. When he returned to the United States, he opened a martial arts academy and became a bodyguard for such celebrities as Kelly LeBrock and Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz. The former eventually became Seagal's wife and the latter helped him make films for Warner Bros.

His first film, 1988's Above the Law was well received among action buffs, leading to 1989's Hard to Kill and 1992's Under Siege, his most popular film to date. In 1994, his directorial debut, On Deadly Ground, had disappointing results. He followed with two more action vehicles, 1996's Executive Decision and 1998's The Patriot, and went on to star in Exit Wounds (2001) and Half Past Dead (2002). 

Tha actor also tried his hand at series television with True Justice, which ran on cable from 2010 to 2012. Seagal has also continued to star in such action films as Force of Execution (2013), with Ving Rhames, and Gutshot Straight (2014). He also appeared in the 2015 documentary The Real Miyagi, about his early mentor, Fumio Demura.

Off the Screen

In addition to the attention that he’s received as a film star, Seagal has also caught the attention of the media due to his mysterious and questionable life. Not only has he hinted at having been involved with the CIA, but he also raised suspicion in regards to his work with the Tibetan freedom fighters. Also, in 1997 Seagal revealed that he had been a given the title of tulku—the reincarnation of the Buddhist lama—by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. Even through the skepticism, he has consistently been a student of Buddhism.

In 2013, Seagal once again turned heads outside of his work on the silver screen due to his relationship with Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused of kidnapping and torturing Islamic insurgents and their families. He visited Kadyrov's home in the capital city of Grozny in May, before returning to Chechnya in October, when he was spotted at a gala concert dedicated to Grozny's 195th anniversary.

Seagal also became close with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and in 2018 the 66-year-old actor was named the country's special representative to the U.S. to promote "cooperation in culture, arts, public and youth exchanges," according to Russia's foreign ministry. Seagal tweeted that he was "deeply humbled and honoured" to earn the appointment, adding that he aimed to "strive for peace, harmony and positive results in the world."

Personal Life

Seagal was married Miyako Fujitani from 1975 to 1987. They have two children, actor/model Kentaro (Justice) and Ayako. He and LeBrock then had two daughters, Annaliza and Arissa, and a son, Dominic, before divorcing in 1996. Seagal also has a daughter, Savannah, by Arissa Wolf, his children's former nanny. He got married once again, to Erdenetuya Batsukh in 2009. The couple has one child together, son Kunzang.

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