Date of Birth: April 10, 1952
It seems that the film world is always in need of at least a couple Billy Jacks or Bruce Lees. How else to explain the popularity of such stars as Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan or Steven Seagal? They don't come to the screen with much in the way of acting chops, rather, they make a career out of karate chops or, in Seagal's case, aikido chops.
Seagal was born in Detroit and developed a fascination with karate when his family moved to Los Angeles when he was only nine. Being on the Pacific rim of the country, it probably seemed a logical move for the 17-year-old Seagal to keep moving west until west met east in Japan.
While in Japan, Seagal began to study aikido, a martial arts discipline he became proficient enough in to begin teaching. In fact, Seagal became so good at his chosen discipline that he became the first Caucasian to successfully operate a martial arts dojo in Japan.
The pony-tailed action hero returned to this native land after 15 years in Japan and opened a martial-arts school, the Ten Shin Dojo, in West Hollywood. After befriending super agent (later to be studio head) Mike Ovitz, Seagal was given the opportunity to make his acting debut with 1988's Above the Law. Perhaps the most successful of the usually three word titled Seagal films to follow his debut was 1992's Under Siege where he starred as a navy cook aboard a ship in peril with Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey.
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.
The jury's still out on whether Seagal can escape the martial arts ghetto that he has so far made his living in, but it almost goes without saying that he'd like to do other work. So far no one's offered the actor anything other than what he's already proven himself capable of doing. But it could happen. As Seagal says, "I've always said I'd rather make a Terms of Endearment than a Rambo. I'll have to write it myself."
In 2010, he began working shooting a starring role in a television series entitled Southern Justice in Vancouver.