It’s a bit of a slow news day today, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to catch you up on our favorite film/martial arts/music/TV/poonani personality, Steven Seagal, who’s always fascinating, whether he’s campaigning for immortality research or bringing a tank to a cockfight. The AV Club recently sat down with veteran character actor Steven Tobolowsky (NED RYERSON! BING!), who related a story about working with Seagal on The Glimmer Man, whom he met through director John Gray, with whom he’d worked on a 1991 TV movie called the Marla Hanson Story. We pick up with Tobolowsky describing his audition, which was at Seagal’s house for some reason:
[Gray] called me and said that I had to audition for Steven for the part of the serial killer.
So I show up at Steven’s home on Stone Canyon Road. My audition was at 10 a.m. And I sat in his living room, which was filled with saddles. Saddles. All over the place. Like, ornate saddles. And I waited until 12:30. Steven came downstairs. He had been asleep.
They wanted me to shoot one of the first days of shooting. They called me at 7 in the morning, which I’m used to, but the crew call was 9. So I came in two hours early. The reason they wanted me two hours early was that they wanted to discuss hair with the hairdresser. But because I was bald, the hairdresser didn’t come in, so I was stuck waiting in the parking lot for someone to show up for two hours.
When, finally, people showed up, John Gray came in and told me in a panic that Steven Seagal wanted to rewrite the script. He decided it was bad for his karma to constantly be killing people in movies, so he didn’t want to kill me anymore. And I said, “Well, it’s important in the script that he kills me, because I’m, like, a serial killer.” And he said, “Don’t get into it with him. He believes it hurts his karmic development if he were to kill people.” And Warner Brothers is furious, because they told Steven, “Steven, we hired you because you’re good at killing people. And you know, you dance with who brung you. We’re not casting you to do a peace-loving cop, we’re casting you to murder people.”
So we got in to rehearse our scene, and Steven says, “You wanna go over the lines?” And I go, “Sure.” “By the way, I should mention I think we should change the end, because I shouldn’t kill you.” And John Gray is standing behind us doing the ix-nay sign, with his finger going across his throat, like, “Don’t talk, don’t talk, don’t talk. Don’t say anything.” I said, “Steven, that is an amazing argument. I never really thought of that before. But coming from my character’s perspective, I am trapped in hell, being a serial killer. It is the worst thing that I could imagine. So if you were to kill me, you would actually be freeing me to come back in a reincarnational form as something better, and I would be able to atone for my sins here on Earth. So I think you would be doing me a huge favor.” And Steven said, “I never thought of it that way.” So we shot the scene where he shoots me. We put in the prosthetics where my whole chest explodes when he shoots me, and then he walks up with the gun smoking, and looks down at me. We do this whole scene where I hold a priest hostage. He looks down at me, smoking, and John patted me on the back, and he said, “Thank you, Stephen, for getting us out of that one.”
Fade out. Fade in. Two and a half months later, I get a phone call from John Gray. He said, “Oh, dear. We’re in trouble. Steven Seagal started ad-libbing in another scene about, “Thank God I didn’t kill the guy in the church.” So we have to find some way to add some lines to indicate that you’re not dead. So can you come in and look at the scene and see if we can put something into the film to indicate that you are still alive?” So I’m watching the film. Keenen Ivory Wayans walks in to watch the scene. We do the whole scene where I’m holding the priest, Steven shoots me, my chest explodes in slow-motion! I mean, the entire chest cavity goes! I fall out of frame, Steven walks up with the smoking gun. And John Gray said, “Maybe you can add a line off-camera here.” And I said, “Like what? What would I add? Like, ‘You missed me!’ or, ‘Thank God it’s just a flesh wound,’ or ‘Oh no! I’m injured!’” I mean, my whole chest exploded. Keenen Ivory Wayans just rolls his eyes and walks out of the room. So I added, off-camera, [Short, deep breaths.] “Finish me. Finish me off, you son of a bitch! Finish me!” [Laughs.] It’s ludicrous! And I don’t know what they ended up showing. I don’t know if they ended up cutting that entirely, cutting me getting shot, cutting what I said, but I knew we were in the area of high comedy at that point. [AVClub – thanks for the tip, Andrew]
Why wouldn’t Steven Seagal be into ornate saddles? He is, after all, an Irish Jew from Fullerton who considers himself Russian and wears sleeveless kimonos while playing blues music about loving poonani. The man is the Kirkland Signature of hobbies (Costco jokes? Anyone?).
But speaking of Steven Seagal’s many fine homes, would you believe that he’s also feuding with his home owner’s association in Scottsdale? Now I know, it’s hard to believe that a wealthy, nouveau riche eccentric like Steven Seagal could possibly do something to offend the sensibilities of his whitebread neighbors in a gated community, but it seems that’s exactly what happened. Apparently his neighbors got tired of him parking his cars up and down their street, and the home owner’s association (when I’m king, anyone active in their home owner’s association will be summarily flogged) solved the problem by placing boulders all along Seagal’s road so he couldn’t park there. Bad move, HOA. Don’t you know Seagal invented passive aggression while meditating with Buddhist monks in the 12th century? But anyway, like so many Seagal stories, it wasn’t the main topic that interested me, but rather an interesting detail hidden within.
Seagal asked that ABC15 not show what he looks like right now because he says he’s working on some undercover projects with law enforcement. [ABC15]
That’s right, Steven Seagal, the 250-pound dude in yellow sunglasses and a ponytail, is working undercover. The famous action film star could not afford to have his anonymity compromised, lest it jeopardize his undercover work. …So many… photoshop opportunities… No word on what he’s working on, but it’s fun to speculate. Here’s my rendition of Steven in disguise at KFC, trying to uncover clues to the Colonel’s secret recipe.
Feel free to submit your own.