Steven Seagal Biography

PHOTO: Steven Seagal

He's an action superstar surrounded by controversy and crime. He skyrocketed to fame in 1988 with an action-packed debut in ‘Above the Law’, but long before then, he was known to martial arts insiders as the first Caucasian to open his own aikido dojo in Japan.

Steven Fredric Seagal was born on 10 April 1952 in Lansing, Michigan where he lived until he was five years old. His Irish mother Patricia was a medical technician and his father Samuel was a maths teacher.

Seagal started his martial arts training at the age of seven under the tutelage of karate instructor and author Fumio Demura, after which he went on to study aikido with help from Harry Ishisaka.

He travelled to Japan at the age of 17, where he taught English and perfected his martial arts skills, paving the way for him to work his way into the movie industry.

Following his 15 years in Asia, Seagal returned to the US where he got work as a celebrity bodyguard, later marrying one of his clients - Kelly LeBrock. However, he was cast into the limelight himself in 'Above the Law', which proved to be an instant hit and was well received.

His arrival in Hollywood was timely as this was when the high-octane action movie genre, to which he was well suited, was thriving. Following his debut in 1988, he appeared in 'Hard to Kill' (1990) as a police detective, which secured his status as a hard-hitting action hero. This was followed by hyper-violent 'Marked for Death' in 1990 as well as 'Out for Justice' in 1991.

He starred in 1992's 'Under Siege', which saw him take on characters played by Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey in an action packed adventure.

A commercial success, the movie was well received by both audiences and critics and helped to establish Seagal further, paving the way for the 1995 sequel, 'Under Siege 2: Dark Territory'. Before this, he appeared as an oil fire expert who turns against his corrupt CEI, played by Michael Caine, in the 1994 film 'On Deadly Ground'.

He also starred in 'The Glimmer Man' (1996) and 'Executive Decision' (1996), although his character in the latter was killed earlier in the movie as his big name status appeared to have only been for marketing purposes.

In 1997, he announced that he had been proclaimed a tulku, the reincarnation of a Buddhist lama, by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. Besides acting, he remained a student of Buddhism who spent many hours meditating, studying, and practicing to become a healer. In the same year, he played an environment agency troubleshooter in 'Fire Down Below'.

His work on the silver screen continued with projects including 1998's 'The Patriot', the surprising genteel 'Prince in Central Park' (1999) 'Exit Wounds' (2001), 'Half Past Dead' (2002), 'Out for a Kill' (2003), 'Belly of the Beast' (2003) 'Into the Sun' (2005) and 'Mercenary for Justice' the following year.

Although he was known for action movies, Seagal attempted other genres as well, appearing in the comedy 'The Onion Movie' in 2008 and the horror science fiction film 'Against the Dark' in 2009. 2010 saw him star in director Robert Rodriguez's 'Machete'.

He then focused on the small screen appearing in action crime drama 'True Justice' from 2010, with the series still going strong in 2012. He will next star in the film 'Maximum Conviction' alongside former wrestler Steve Austin.

As well as acting, Seagal has an interest in music, with his songs featuring in some of his films including 'Fire Down Below' (1997). He released his first album 'Songs from the Crystal Cage' in 2005, with the follow-up 'Mojo Priest' released in April 2006.

Seagal's marriage to LeBrock, which ended in 1996, was not his first. Before she came along he was married to Miyako Fujitani in Japan between 1974 and 1987, but the union ended when he returned to the US, paving the way for marriage to Adrienne La Russa between 1984 and 1987 when it was annulled due to his relationship with LeBrock.

He has seven children, including two from his first marriage and three from his marriage to LeBrock. Seagal had a child with his family nanny Arissa Wolf in 1996.

Erdenetuya Seagal has been his wife since 2009 and the couple have a son called Kunzang.

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