Interview: Steven Seagal talks his latest film, favorite roles, & more!
There are a number of guys in Hollywood that I’d always want to talk with. And with the upcoming release of a film called ABSOLUTION, one of those opportunities happened. I’m talking the iconic Steven Seagal. Growing up watching movies like HARD TO KILL, UNDER SIEGE, ABOVE THE LAW and so many others, I was quite frankly pretty nervous to chat with this fine gentleman. Happily, it couldn’t have gone better. Seagal is a fascinating man. One that I was thrilled to get the chance to talk to.
During our conversation we chatted about his earlier films including HARD TO KILL, as well as some of the modern talents he admires - and some he may not. He also talked about a few serious subjects that have been all over the news lately, and it was interesting to get his perspective on it. All it all, talking to this legendary action star was a very cool experience that I’ll never forget. If you’d like to see what he is up to make sure you check out ABSOLUTION opening Friday in a limited run, as well as on VOD.
One of my favorite movies is HARD TO KILL. Why do people keep making these types of movies since you've already perfected it with that one?
I just wasn’t ready to retire.
I’ve noticed you’ve produced many of your films but you didn’t produce your latest, ABSOLUTION. What were the reasons for that and what attracted you to the character?
You know, I love that character, regardless of what may be the spectacular political manipulations of those kind of geniuses out there.
You continue to play these rough and tumble characters who are kind of doing good and kicking some ass. You’re so good at it, but what is the appeal that keeps you making action films?
Well, first of all, that’s what people hire me to do and second of all, it’s kind of what I do in real life. I work the police officers, I work the voters, I still am an operator.
Looking back on your career, you’ve had such an amazing career, so many great movies, so many cool characters. Which of the films is your favorite? Or a favorite character you’ve played?
I liked Casey Ryback [in UNDER SIEGE and UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY], I liked my character in ON DEADLY GROUND because I liked what that movie had to say. I liked FIRE DOWN BELOW, which was a kind of environmental movie. I liked that character. I liked my character in THE GLIMMER MAN. So, there’s been a few.
Not only am I a fan of your work, you’d also had the opportunity to star opposite some truly beautiful actresses? Who are some of your favorites?
There’s a difference between the acting and the physical beauty. Like, with acting I got to work with Marg Helgenberger in FIRE DOWN BELOW. While I don’t think she’s a physical, spectacular, drop dead gorgeous woman, at the same time she’s a spectacular actress. Her performance was wonderful. You know, I’ve worked with Sharon Stone. There’s a ton of women. I can’t even remember how many. I never really picked them because I thought they were beautiful - we usually picked people because they were right for the role.
Things have changed since then. It’s strange to see how Hollywood approaches an action film nowadays. Coming from your standpoint, what’s different about now and how it was then when you were making these types of films?
As you know now, you can take anybody and somebody who happens to be British - I’m not going to make comments about British production - and in general, they can be some of the most despicable members of journalism on Earth. I made a remark about a particular actor. I said he’s a brilliant actor, but, you know, is he a great action man? Well, he’s a great action man because in the movies they can make anyone an action man. Nowadays, with special effects, they can take anyone and make them one of the greatest action stars on Earth. It’s a little thing called money. If you have the money for those special effects, you can do anything. By virtue of the fact that I’m a real guy, I’m doing [things] in real life that a lot of people pretend to do, what they all pretend to do. In the movies, it doesn’t mean anything. No one cares. But in real life, I do all the things other people pretend to do in the movies. It doesn’t mean nothing.
It means a lot to your fans for sure, definitely.
But like you said, you can take anybody and make them a superhero now and it doesn’t matter. Back then, when you guys were doing it, you guys were doing it right. We were watching you and we believed every damn second of it.
Which of the films that you’ve done was the most difficult to make?
Well, believe it or not ABOVE THE LAW was probably the most difficult movie I did because we made it on a shoestring budget. [It was in] Chicago, [the director, Andrew Davis] wanted to use all of his own people, his friends, his family and things like that. The schedule was formidable. We did 17, 18 hour days, which was tough. In many ways it was amateur hour on that movie. The production didn’t have the right support team there. I remember they had a scene where my hands were tied to a chair. Somebody was standing behind me with his chest against my head and had plastic wire around my neck or something. So, you really couldn’t move. They filled a glove full of lead. Now, why you would have that as a prop, I don’t know, because the audience can’t see inside that glove. It could have been styrofoam, you know? And [the glove is swung], boom, smacks me in the nose and shatters my nose. I went to the hospital and they fixed my nose. It was about midnight when we finished filming. That’s the kind of shit that we did on that movie. It was a rough schedule and just rough in general.
That’s the kind of shit that we did on that movie. It was a rough schedule.
Are there any modern action stars that you admire?
Is there someone who you’ve never gotten a chance to work with that you’d really like to? A director or another action star? Somebody who you’ve always admired their work?
Certainly I’m on the bottom of the totem pole in many people’s eyes and so, there’s thousands of guys out there that I’d love to work with. I’d love to work with Paul Greengrass. It doesn’t mean that I’ll get the chance to but I’d love to. I’d love to work with Donnie Yen. There’s tons of wonderful actors out there.
With the current state of remakes and sequels, how do you feel about remakes? Are there any of your films that you’d like to see remade or even have a sequel?
I’d like to do [another] sequel to UNDER SEIGE. I’d like to do UNDER SEIGE 3 and everyone wants to see that. We’d love to do that. The reason why we didn’t do it for so many years was because there was a [feud] going on between Warner Bros and - there was a rights dispute I should say. But that’s been cleared up now so we could, in theory, make that.
Fans would love to see that. Everyone loves the UNDER SEIGE movies because they’re so freaking awesome. I’m a big fan, man. I read somewhere that you were planning to work with Morrissey in search of the sacred chamber?
You’re talking about Tom Morrissey, right?
He’s a brother. He’s a fellow police officer. He’s a former U.S. Marshall. He’s on the bestsellers list. He has a bestselling book out there. I am writing a book with him based on my experience on the borders with cartels, things like that.
How dangerous has it gotten for you? Obviously aside from just throwing punches in films, you do the real thing. You’re the real deal. How dangerous have you seen it get for you?
Well, I mean, you know, I don’t know how to answer that aside from this. Every time you go on a high risk [operation], whether it’s looking for somebody in a car, or you’re kicking in the door of a house where there’s people in there with guns, who, it’s written on the warrant, have said they will not be taken alive, all of that stuff is extremely dangerous. You risk your life every day you go out there. I’ve had many situations that could have gone wrong and did go wrong. I would say, just like any police officer, we all risk our lives. I’m very sorry to see some of the stuff that’s going on out there - just bad behavior by people on both sides. Probably the most egregious thing I’ve seen in my life was the shooting in South Carolina, where the gentleman got shot in the back seven times. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. Myself and every police officer who saw that didn’t know whether to cry or throw up. It was just flat out outrageous. There’s millions of police officers out there who risk their lives every day. They are good human beings who would give their life at the drop of a hat for a total stranger. And then there’s the bad ones. But, there’s also situations that occur where it becomes very difficult to make the right decision because things happen fast and things can be very hard to read at a rapid, rapid rate. There’s certain things like [what happened in] South Carolina where there’s no excuse on Earth. I believe [the police officer involved] has been arrested and charged for murder. All of my police officer friends are hoping this guy gets convicted because we want the world to know that we’re not like that.
Unfortunately it’s always the bad apple that sticks out and that’s the one that gets the most press.
It’s all the good guys that are actually doing their job and fighting for our rights...
My definition of a wannabe is somebody who spends his life bullshitting the world about all the shit that he did and is gonna do. You know, the real guys, they shut their mouth, they do what they’re supposed to do and they don’t talk about it. Then they get up and they do it again.
What’s next for you, film-wise?
You know, we had a little dry spell, not working for a while. Right now, I was just telling my wife, we’ve had like 15 offers. So, just a ton of offers. I haven’t had that many offers for a long, long time. Some of those offers are just gonna go, some of them are offers on movies that I’ve written. I’ve written something called ATTRITION, which kind of reminds me of a [Akira] Kurosawa movie. I’m hoping to make that soon, maybe in China, maybe in Hong Kong, maybe in Thailand. We’ve got a lot of great offers out there. We’re going to be getting real busy this year.