John Leguizamo still talking about the time Steven Seagal beat him up

Senior Editor
10.18.12 42 Comments

For all the crap Steven Seagal spouts about being spiritual and a Buddhist (he was actually recognized as the reincarnation of 17th century “revealer” Chungdrang Dorje in 1996), almost every first-hand story about him is about what a big bully he is, like that he broke Sean Connery’s wrist, or that he’s a sexual harasser, or a rapist, or that a stuntman who worked with him said “I know guys he has hurt to the point of having to have surgery,” or that he once killed Jesus’s puppy with a tank (Jesus Llovera, not Christ, but still). Point is, the story of Steven Seagal is shrouded in mystery, and sleeveless kimonos. John Leguizamo, who recently signed on for a cop comedy with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, has his own Steven Seagal story that he’s never been shy about telling, and recently, he retold it in even more detail in an interview with The AV Club:

AVC: You mentioned that Ghetto Klown grew out of these college talks where you were essentially riffing on your career, and the documentary mentions an anecdote about Steven Seagal from the making of Executive Decision but never quite gives it to us. What’s the story?

JL: Well the response from Seagal’s publicist was that if he sees me on the red carpet, he’s going to knock me out. [Laughs.] That was his response. And my response was that I wasn’t afraid because I haven’t seen him in a movie in years—which would make him really want to knock me out. He can fight. That’s the only downside to my comment: He can actually knock me out. He runs like a girl, but he hits like a 6-foot-5 dude who has trained his whole life.

I was doing this thing called Executive Decision and I was supposed to play the sergeant to his captain. The first day of rehearsal, there was the director [Stuart Baird], Joe Morton, B.D. Wong, Oliver Platt—we’re all big actors, we’re all big boys, we’re all experienced. And we start rehearsing and [Seagal] came in and was like, [low, breathy voice] “I’m in command. What I say is law.” So I started, like, [snorts]. I mean, who the f*ck talks like that? Who comes into rehearsal and says that sh*t? So I started laughing and he slammed me with an aikido elbow against a brick wall and knocked all the air out of me. I dropped to the ground, and all I could say was, [gasping] “Why? Why?” I really wanted to say that he runs like a bitch and has no hair, but I was afraid. [Laughs.] So on the days when we shot the scene where he died, I showed up so early. I wanted to see him die. It was like a fantasy.

Who talks like that? I’ll tell you who: a guy who’s… ABOVE THE LAW. (*elbow to the solar plexis*)

Maybe this is what Steven Seagal meant when he said, without a hint of sarcasm, that Above the Law was autobiographical. “Steven Seagal’s publicist,” Jesus Christ, that must be like being Kim Jong-Il’s fact checker.

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