The action hero figure enjoyed great popularity in Hollywood during the first half of the 90s. Actors like Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger they were at the peak of their career and there were many others who tried to rival them. Today we are going to talk about the case of Steven Seagal, who looked like he was going to become a big star after the success of ‘Maximum alert’ and then his career did not stop dwindling until he was condemned to be the star of countless titles that were never seen on a movie screen.
Seagal debuted as an actor when he was already mature, as he was about to turn 36 when it was released ‘Above the law’, a modest production that triumphed at the box office. She was followed ‘Hard to kill’, ‘Marked for death’ Y ‘Seeking justice’, all of them economic successes. That led Warner to sign an exclusive contract with the actor, for whom he would bet big with ‘Maximum Alert’, a variant of ‘Die Hard’ that cost 35 million dollars and raised more than 156 million. A star was born, or so we believed at least.
It is difficult to treat
The truth is that by then Seagal’s reputation was not exactly good. As his films made money, it was something the studio did not pay special attention to, since in 1991 he participated in an episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’ that was a disaster in every way, from his star attitude that is believed by above all in the rehearsals until the actual execution of the program. So much so that was banned from space thereafter, coming to be listed as the worst host in the history of ‘Saturday Night Live’.
That same year he was also the protagonist of a story that he denies it happened, but the professional wrestler Gene LeBell, who was working as a stuntman in the movie ‘Seeking Justice’, allegedly knocked the actor unconscious when Seagal claimed that no one would be able to drown him. Legend has it that he even lost control of his sphincter and shitted himself. Never confirmed by any of those involved, although LeBell did drop that it was true, what is certain is that it was not made public at the time, so Seagal’s image to the public was not damaged.
The out-of-court settlements also saved him from several scandals that year, as it was accused of sexual harassment on the part of several Warner workers, a recurring attitude that would be worth various demands more throughout his career, even when he had already been forgotten by anyone who was not a staunch fan of hers.
What Warner did know at the time is that the actor was somewhat demanding, because initially he had refused to participate in ‘Maximum Alert’ and several changes had to be made to the script. A request up to a reasonable point, but that in its own way it served as a warning for the self-centeredness that would sink his career. The first step for this was not to release any tape in 1993 and bet everything on the letter of ‘The dangerous land’, a project much loved by him that would also mean his first and only experience as a director.
The harder will be the fall
At the time, Seagal was hell-bent on making his debut behind the scenes, but another project he had underway it was canceled at the last minute and decided to accept Warner’s offer to do ‘In Dangerous Land’ in exchange for later getting down to business with ‘Maximum alert 2’. It seemed like the perfect plan to keep the actor happy, but soon the problems arrived, since ‘In dangerous land’ had a strong message in defense of the environment, something very in line with the ideals of Seagal, which caused a strong rejection in the test passes.
Seagal agreed to make some adjustments at the end of the film, but ‘In Dangerous Land’ ended up being the first failure of his career, thus questioning his newly acquired status as an action star. In addition, the release of the film was accompanied shortly after by another sexual harassment lawsuit – among other accusations – that allegedly took place during the filming of the film. However, the accusations were ultimately dismissed.
A recurring attitude on the part of Seagal, because during the pre-production of ‘Maximum Alert 2’ it was also exceeded with Jenny McCarthy When he demanded that she undress during a test and when she left indignant, the actor followed her to demand that she never tell anything about what happened. McCarthy went public with it in 1998, stating that he knew Seagal would not sue her because he knew it was true and calling him “a fucking asshole”.
But let’s not get too far ahead, since there were also stumbles in the careers of Willis, Stallone or Schwarzenegger. Nothing that could not be resolved if ‘Maximum Alert 2’ swept the box office. What’s more, Warner did his best, raising the budget to $ 60 million.. A risky bet only in part, since it only had to raise the same as the first installment to make a profit.
Let’s take as a reference the case of ‘Crystal Jungle’, a clear reference to the ‘Maximum Alert’ franchise. John McClane’s first adventure cost $ 30 million and grossed 141, similar to ‘High Alert’ numbers. For ‘The Jungle 2: Red Alert’ the cost skyrocketed to 70 million, but revenues rose to 240. Sure that Warner trusted something like that with ‘Maximum Alert 2’, but the reality was very different.
Putting aside its interest as an entertainment film, the point is that ‘Maximum Alert 2’ only grossed $ 105 million. A failure at the box office that left Seagal in a very fragile position within Hollywood, especially after his imposition of rewriting most of the scenes in which his character appeared. It was not easy to work with him, but it is also that he no longer offered anything in return that would compensate him.
Sunk and hopeless
In Warner they must have already smelled the toast, so for their next film they played with the presence of Seagal in a totally unexpected way at that time: his character died after a few minutes of footage of ‘Critical decision’ and the true protagonism then fell on Kurt Russell. It was never entirely clear that this was the role initially planned for him -or that even his death was like that, since it has been said that he refused to shoot the one in the script in case his fans did not like it-, but John leguizamo He has made it clear that his behavior on set was not exactly exemplary.
Apparently, Seagal showed up on the first day of rehearsals stating that “all i say is law”And showing off despite having a secondary character. Leguizamo laughed at his comment, so Seagal she pounced on him, hit him with her elbow and almost took his breath away. Barely three years had passed since the success of ‘Maximum Alert’ and he had already been reduced to being a problematic actor who has also chained several box office failures.
As expected, Warner let his contract with the actor come to an end with two more content budget titles that also did not do well economically as ‘Glimmer Man’ or ‘In dangerous land 2’. His response to try to regain glory was to participate in ‘The last patriot’, a film in which the action scenes lost weight, recovered that message of ecological awareness and also appeared on screen for the first and last time with his daughter in real life Ayako Fujitani.
The result was that it did not even make it to theaters in the United States, thus clearly ending any possibility of Seagal reigning Hollywood. In fact, hardly any of his later films were seen in theaters, something that he could not even prevent. ‘Open wounds’. Released in 2001, it can be said that it was a box office success – it cost 33 million and grossed almost 80 – but its image in Hollywood was already on the ground and none of its subsequent attempts to resurrect artistically have been successful.
This is how Seagal went in just a few years from being the next big Hollywood star to a pissed off still working shooting direct-to-video or digital-market by-products. He is not the only one who has suffered a similar fate -Bruce Willis has also released each chestnut lately that he can already thank Shyamalan for recovering it for ‘Glass’-, but he is the one who has done it in less time and with hardly being able to taste the honeys of success because of your own attitude.