Real name: Steven Seagal
Birthdate: April 10, 1951
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Steven Seagal (born April 10, 1951) is an American action movie actor, producer, writer, director, martial artist, singer-songwriter, and activist. A 7th-dan black belt in aikido, Seagal began his adult life as an aikido instructor in Japan, before moving to the Los Angeles, California area where, after being noticed by entertainment executives, he made his film debut in 1988. Since then, Seagal has become a well recognized action star, with his movies earning more than $2 Billion worldwide.
After the success of Under Siege, Seagal made his directorial debut with On Deadly Ground (1994) in which he also starred, alongside Michael Caine. The movie was a failure with both audiences and critics, and made a financial loss, costing an estimated $50 million to make and grossing less than $39 million in the United States.
Seagal uses a blend of Blues, Country, and World Music in his unique compositions, reflecting the eclectic mosaic style of his martial arts and film work, both of which combine different styles (aikido/gunfire and action/lecture are respective examples). Seagal is also known for his live cover versions including seminal works like Don Macleans' 'American Pie' and Hot Gossips' 'I Fell In Love With a Starship Trooper'.
After taking a couple years to produce 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. However, he was unable to capitalize on this success and his next two projects were both critical and commercial failures. Ticker co-starring Tom Sizemore and Dennis Hopper, and filmed in San Francisco before Exit Wounds, went straight to DVD while Half Past Dead, starring rap star Ja Rule, made less than $20 million worldwide.
While his acting performance in Above the Law gained praise from the likes of Roger Ebert, Seagal has repeatedly faced criticism from both actors and fans who accuse him of playing the same character in many of his movies, as well as displaying a lack of emotional range.
Seagal has described his activism method as "shaming companies into changing," a theme that is visible in such films as On Deadly Ground and Fire Down Below. He has worked with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to discourage the fur trade, and has written to the Prime Minister of India to seek increased legal protection for cows. Seagal worked effectively towards saving dogs destined to drown in Taiwan; he successfully sought the Premier of Taiwan to sign legislation limiting animal cruelty.
In 2003, Seagal wrote an open letter to the government of Thailand, urging them to enact a law to prevent the torture of baby elephants.
Seagal is an advocate for the rights and interests of Native Americans. In On Deadly Ground, Seagal depicted himself as The Chosen One, sent to save the Inuit people from the evils of "Big Oil".
On MADtv, Seagal was portrayed by Will Sasso. In various skits involving the actor, Seagal was portrayed to be an unintelligent, disrespectful, and egotistical actor for comedic effect. The trademark slapstick humor ranges from attempting to do stunts, but failing miserably, to random attacks on other characters in the scene (most notably, random chops or snapping necks.)