Warning: This is a long article. About a kid’s dreams, my own, being shattered. I know Vern from Aint It Cool would be sad for me. Enjoy!
There was a time in my life that I liked crappy movies. I had a soft spot for films that starred the likes of Michael Dudikoff, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steve James and even Billy Blanks. Yes, Tae Bo Billy Blanks. But there was one man that I loved in the movies. One guy who I couldn’t wait to see in his next film. An action star like no other. And one that spurned me and has made me hate him with a passion you wouldn’t believe to this day.
That man, my friends, is Steven Seagal.
When I first saw this god amongst men on celluloid, it was in the middle of the night when I was 9 years old. We had HBO as our only cable channel and the only programs I was allowed to watch were Fraggle Rock and the occasional children’s film. Never Ending Story, Time Bandits, Monster Squad… all those classics. As I was saying, in the middle of the night one night during our summer vacation, I couldn’t sleep. I was a chubby one, so I snuck upstairs to get some cookies. As I ate Oreos and drank some milk, I flipped on the tv and a movie was on. Above the Law was on and I was a changed little boy. This film was just fantastic to my 9 year old eyes. Here was someone who wasn’t the buffest guy, just beating the living crap out of people without even trying. Breaking someone’s hand with such ease, it was just amazing to me.
The next day, I woke up early and was mimicking his movements. Very slow at first but then I’d let them have it. My mock opponents were being destroyed, just as Steven Seagal did to his own villains the night before. I had to know more about this mysterious man. These were the days where there was no commonplace internet. So the library was my only source of knowledge. I perused the magazines and film books and found out a little more about this man of many facets. I found out that he was actually a legitimate bad ass and knew martial arts. He was almost a hero to me. But remember folks, there was only the one movie I saw him in. How could he get any better than Above the Law ?
The next year came Hard to Kill. Hard… to… kill. What an orgasmic title for a movie! He’s not invulnerable, not at all. But he’s such a presence in the world of action films that he would be almost impossible to kill. I snuck in to see this film and it was everything I wanted and more. He gets shot up to the point where you think he’s dead. His wife is killed. But what of his son? But wait, they hid him in intensive coma care and he’s been there for years, asleep. Kelly Lebrock, before she looked like a train, is the sexy nurse to his aide. William Sadler, Death himself, is the villainous senator. It had everything going for it. Even his character’s name, Mason Storm, is so cool. How could he top this one?
I had to know more about this man. But he was a bit of a recluse. Never appearing for interviews. I remember hearing about announced interviews with him on television, but then he would cancel at the last moment, dashing my hopes to see him speaking outside a film world. Why wouldn’t this man just show me the way he was, not the soft spoken, tough talking, kill you in two seconds type of guy he portrayed in the movies?
The next film in this man’s repertoire was Marked For Death. First he was so badass, he was above the law, then he was so hard to kill and now… marked for death? What the hell kind of trouble could our hero be in now? A DEA agent, in Colombia tackling drug lords. His partner was killed and deep down, he blames himself and therefore retires. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from cop films is that the hero never retires. Then there’s a shootout with Jamaican drug kingpins, one of which is named Screwface. How in the world could this film end? Just take it back to Jamaica, where Screwface has run away to and ultimately beat the drug kingpin at his own game. The memories are starting to choke me up a bit right now, actually.
He was cranking out the movies in rapid fire motion and being a fan of his meant eating every little bit of it up. It’s when I found out that his next film, Out For Justice would be filming in Brooklyn, New York that I almost had a heart attack. My hero, filming a movie in my backyard? I couldn’t believe it. I had to go meet him. But I was a pudgy nervous kid who was scared half to death to meet this god amongst men. So I decided to talk my friend Rick into coming with me to meet him, only because he was pudgier and more scared. What better duo than that?
We would travel the streets of 18th Avenue and 86th Street, looking for him. We saw the other film crew walking around. I even got to meet William Forsythe, who later in my years would be one of my favorite actors. But at such a young age, I was only looking for one man and one man alone. Seagal had to be found. It took us days, asking different members of the film crew where Mr. Seagal could be. They’d tell us (they were very nice) and we’d go to where they told us to go, but we would find out we just missed him. This enigma had to be solved and I was the one to find the key!
Finally on a special day, we were walking up 18th Avenue and we saw the giant 6 foot 4 inch frame of Steven Seagal wearing sunglasses, walking up the block with a bottle of water in one hand and a script in the other, speaking to a female around 19 years of age. I was shaking in my Keds so my friend Rick somehow gets the guts within him and walks over to Mr. Seagal. I of course wag my tail behind me and run over behind Rick. We walk over to this massive man and my heart is racing. My brow is sweaty and I’m wiping it so I don’t look like some sick kid who is going to infect Steven Seagal with retardation. My friend Rick is the first to speak.
Rick: Hello Mr. Seagal. My friend James and I are huge fans of yours ever since we saw your film Above the Law. Do you mind if you gave us your autograph?
I didn’t even care about an autograph. I just wanted Steven Seagal to acknowledge that I was alive and meant something. He looked down at us, pulling his shades down just enough so we could see his eyes. My throat clenched up. What was this man about to say? I had goosebumps thinking of the possibilities.
Steven Seagal: How about you take your fat ass and move out of my way before I break you in half, scrub! Beat it! Before I beat you!
We promptly moved to the side as he continued to walk by, with his script and female in tow. My friend Rick was shaking but then was excited that a celebrity threatened his life. He was that type of kid. What did it matter to him? My heart was broken. Shattered into millions of pieces. And why? Because Steven Seagal noticed my friend and threatened his life and not mine! That was supposed to be me that would get the might of the gods thrown down upon me. Not this Rick kid. I couldn’t believe it and when I finally stabilized, Mr. Seagal was gone.
Did I mention how much I hate Steven Seagal?