Stars Who Can't Stand Steven Seagal

If you were around in the '80s and early '90s, then you remember when aikido master and action star Steven Seagal was considered to be among the baddest of badasses. His early movies — most notably 1988's "Above the Law," 1990's "Hard to Kill," and his biggest hit, the 1992 military thriller "Under Siege" — are bona fide action classics, and while his acting tended toward the stiff and stilted, his imposing presence and undeniable strength and speed made him a star.

If you're wondering just how many black belts Steven Seagal has, the answer is "a lot" — four, to be exact, in aikido, judo, kendo, and karate. These days, however, he's known for a few not-so-kickass things: his towering ego, his alleged problematic behavior toward women, and the videos that have surfaced online in which the former star demonstrates his skills by throwing around opponents who are clearly not even trying to put up a fight. Oh, and also for his legendarily awful, anti-comedic, all-time worst turn hosting "Saturday Night Live," his jaw-droppingly silly 2004 album "Songs from the Crystal Cave," and his equally silly reality series "Steven Seagal: Lawman," which follows Seagal during his side gig as an honest-to-goodness Louisiana sheriff's deputy. Also, last but not least, for being kind of a butthead — which is why there are plenty of stars who can't stand him.

John Leguizamo

Hollywood icon John Leguizamo is outspoken about his disdain for Steven Seagal, more so than most. This is because Leguizamo has had more physical contact with Seagal than most — which is to say that Seagal basically attacked the much smaller Leguizamo on the set of the only film they've made together, the 1996 thriller "Executive Decision." Appearing on the podcast "Q with Tom Power," Leguizamo explained that his first day on set, Seagal addressed the cast to let them know that he was "in command" and that his word was "law," challenging anyone who had a problem with it. Leguizamo's response to this over-the-top proclamation was exactly what one might expect: barely stifled laughter, which apparently didn't sit too well with Seagal.

Leguizamo shared that Seagal promptly "tae kwon do'd" him into a brick wall, knocking the wind out of him and leaving him gasping on the floor. The incident understandably stuck in Leguizamo's craw, to the extent that when he was tasked with portraying a washed-up Hollywood star in the 2022 comedy-horror "The Menu," he knew just who to base his performance on. Speaking with Comic Book in 2023, he said, "What am I, going to spoof myself like I'm a failed actor? Hell, no. I wouldn't have done that. I used Steven Seagal because I hate him."

Jean-Claude Van Damme

If, back in the '80s, you ever mused over who would win in a fight between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, you're not alone. As two of the top action stars of their era, sporting two very different fighting styles, it would have made for an interesting match — and it almost came to pass, at a party thrown at the residence of none other than Sylvester Stallone in the late '90s. Responding to a fan Q&A in 2006 (via Ain't It Cool News), Stallone — who apparently could throw quite a party — remembered that among guests that included the likes of Bruce Willis, Shaquille O'Neal, and Madonna, Van Damme and Seagal were also present. "Van Damme was tired of Seagal saying he could kick his ass," Stallone wrote, "and [he] went right up to [Seagal] and offered him the chance to step outside." When Seagal declined and left, Van Damme — who Sly says was "completely berserk" — followed him to a nightclub and again made his offer, whereupon Seagal "pulled a Houdini" and vanished.

Van Damme himself verified this story in a sit-down with The Telegraph in 2023, adding the detail that he only tracked Seagal down at the nightclub because the guy left him waiting outside for two hours before chickening out. "Kids' stuff, kids' stuff," Van Damme remarked. "People told me he doesn't speak so nice about me. I don't know why."

Bob Odenkirk

It seems like it would take a lot to get on the bad side of the eminently lovable, hilarious, and talented Bob Odenkirk, who seems like the kind of guy just about anyone would be down to have a beer with, even if they don't like beer. Steven Seagal, though, managed the feat — and he did it by way of that ill-fated 1991 "Saturday Night Live" hosting gig, perhaps the most egregious mismatch of variety show and host that has ever been conceived. Odenkirk was a writer on "SNL" at the time, and in a conversation with Howard Stern in 2022, he was still, after three decades, as confounded as anyone by the level of humorlessness and cluelessness displayed by Seagal that night.

"His attitude the whole week, was ... he kept saying, 'I've never seen your show. I don't know what you do here,'" Odenkirk remembered. "Like, really? You've never seen 'Saturday Night Live?'" He went on to describe a sketch written by Seagal, the final one of the evening, wherein the star invaded an Exxon board meeting to beat the crap out of everyone present before angrily proclaiming, "This is what happens when you pollute the planet!" The audience, Odenkirk, went on, was "mystified," and when Stern inquired as to how the heck "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels could have allowed this fiasco to happen, Odenkirk simply said that by the time the train was coming off the rails during the week-long rehearsals, it was too late. 

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron may look like a supermodel, but few supermodels kick literal and figurative butt like she does. As an actor, she is top-tier, having won an Oscar for her unrecognizable portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the 2003 film "Monster." As an action star, she is also top-tier; she nearly always performs her own stunts and fight scenes, and she has proven her action mettle in such high-octane flicks as "Atomic Blonde," "The Old Guard," and "Mad Max: Fury Road," which is widely considered to be among the greatest action movies of all time. 

During a 2020 conversation with Howard Stern (who apparently likes to ask his guests their opinions of Steven Seagal), Theron referenced those viral videos of Seagal clumsily pushing around bumbling opponents in calling out his actual fighting skills (via People). "He's just incredibly overweight and pushing people. [He] can barely fight ... it's ridiculous." She then made reference to the numerous allegations of sexual assault and improper behavior that have been made by the likes of Portia De Rossi, Jenny McCarthy, "Inside Edition" correspondent Lisa Guerrero, and others: "I have no problem talking s*** about him because he's not very nice to women," she said. Then, directing her final word on the matter to Seagal himself, she said, "So, f*** you."

Bob Wall

The late, great martial arts legend Bob Wall, a protégé of Chuck Norris who had the honor of having a few ribs broken onscreen by a single kick from Bruce Lee (in the classic "Enter the Dragon"), could be counted among those who were decidedly not fans of Steven Seagal. In the mid-'80s before his Hollywood career began to take off, Seagal was prepping for the spotlight by trash-talking what he perceived to be the sorry state of martial arts in America in the press. Wall took this personally, and, fueled in part by dueling interviews in "Black Belt" magazine, a serious feud started to take shape (via The Telegraph).

Wall publicly panned Seagal's debut feature, "Above the Law," saying, "All he's got is mouth." Seagal responded with the classic "come say it to my face," and in 1989, remarked to "Black Belt" that he had yet to meet the man who would voluntarily face him. By 1991, Wall had put together a squad of famous martial artists — the "Dirty Dozen" — whom he claimed were all ready and willing to fight Seagal in the ring, telling the press in no uncertain terms what he thought of the aikido master. "I know five dozen guys who could whip Seagal's hide," he said. "He's just full of it ... There's not just one guy who can embarrass Seagal. There's dozens. I only picked 12 of them."

Chuck Norris

Speaking of Chuck Norris, the legendary former karate champion and star of film and television didn't exactly harbor warm, fuzzy feelings toward Steven Seagal. As Bob Wall's former instructor, Norris was doubtless aware of the beef that was ongoing between Wall and Seagal in the early '90s — but when asked point-blank by Dick Cavett how good of a martial artist Seagal was in a 1993 interview, Norris hemmed and hawed at first. "Truthfully, I don't know," he said. "Most of Seagal's movies, his action is done close-up ... everything is real quick cuts, so you don't get a chance to really see exactly what he's doing."

When Cavett then relayed a story about a martial artist (whose name he couldn't recall) who responded threateningly when Cavett had tried to introduce himself at a bookstore, Norris asked, "Was it Steven Seagal?" Cavett responded that it wasn't but opined that Seagal looked the part, and asked Norris, "That menacing, really rotten kind of guy image that he projects, it's largely acting, is it, or not?" Norris, snickering slightly, shook his head no before replying, "It carries over into his whole life ... unfortunately." When Cavett asked Norris (in an odd turn of phrase) if Seagal had ever "crunched [his] instep," the star responded in the absolute most Chuck Norris fashion possible: "No. He wouldn't dare."

Tom Segura

Podcaster and comedian Tom Segura is a heck of a funny guy, and a card-carrying member of the "Screw Steven Seagal" club. This is illustrated by a memorable and lengthy bit from his 2014 Netflix special "Completely Normal," in which he slammed Seagal up one side and down the other for basically being one of the phoniest, most unlikeable people on the planet.

Segura's evidence largely consists of episodes of "Steven Seagal: Lawman," the entire premise of which he finds offensive on its surface. He takes Seagal to task for being a self-proclaimed expert on topics which he obviously has limited-to-no knowledge of, for "[pandering] to every group according to race," and for being about as qualified to train actual police officers to fight their way out of dangerous situations as, say, William Shatner is to train astronauts. Segura revisited the subject during a conversation with Talib Kweli on the latter's podcast, confirming that his disdain for Seagal was not just a bit. "All the stories I've heard about Seagal are pretty terrible," Segura said. "Consistently terrible ... You go on a movie set and you're like, 'Tell me about Seagal,' and people are like, 'Look I don't talk s*** about people, but I will talk s*** about him.' Consistently saying what a terrible person he is."

Randy Couture

Former MMA champion Randy Couture is a multi-talented individual; not only has he made a living beating the crap out of folks for the entertainment of pay-per-view audiences, but he's also amassed a respectable filmography as an actor, and he got his start as a stunt performer, notably appearing in that capacity on the HBO series "Oz." Now, Steven Seagal has long had a bit of a reputation for not exactly being gentle with the stunt performers in his films, and it may be for this reason that during a post-retirement chat with Jay Glazer in 2012, Couture (jokingly) named Seagal as someone whom he would come out of retirement to fight. Seagal, of course, did not take this as a joke.

In a subsequent statement, Seagal said that Couture could fight him "anytime he wants ... someplace where there are no witnesses," a response that Couture hilariously described as "entertaining" in a chat with the MMA Junkie Radio podcast in 2021, nearly a decade later (via USA Today Sports). "Everybody knows the rumors and all that stuff regarding stuntmen getting injured," he said. "I got started in stunts. I was lucky enough to get some real acting gigs. For all the stuntmen out there, I will stick to my guns and say Seagal would be that guy." 

Brian Cox

Legendary Scottish actor Brian Cox may be a tremendously skilled actor, but even he is not immune to appearing in absolute stinkers. Case in point: the 1996 Steven Seagal-Keenen Ivory Wayans vehicle "The Glimmer Man," which sports a whopping 11% Fresh rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. (The site's Critics' Consensus succinctly reads, "A grimy, humorless glimpse of Steven Seagal's direct-to-video future.") Cox had the misfortune of co-starring in the film, which is how the no-nonsense actor came to hold some pretty strong opinions on Seagal, whom he considers to be a high-nonsense man.

In his 2021 memoir "Putting the Rabbit in the Hat," Cox offered his unvarnished takes on the abilities and personalities of several of his very famous past co-stars (via A.V. Club). These included the likes of Johnny Depp ("So overblown, so overrated"), Edward Norton ("A nice lad, but a bit of a pain the arse"), and David Bowie ("He made a better pop star [than an actor], that much is for certain"). But for Seagal, he saved his most hilariously poetic description. "Steven Seagal is as ludicrous in real life as he appears on screen," he wrote. "He radiates a studied serenity, as though he's on a higher plane to the rest of us ... While he's certainly on a different plane, no doubt about that, it's probably not a higher one."

Julianna Margulies

Former "E.R." star Julianna Margulies has a pretty personal reason for her opinion of Steven Seagal, and it's one she has talked about often in recent years. When she was an up-and-coming actress, she was up for a part in Seagal's 1991 movie "Out for Justice," and she made the mistake of meeting with Seagal in his hotel room to discuss the part. What allegedly happened next was bizarre, creepy, and a little threatening. 

Speaking with the CBC's Radio Q, Margulies explained how when she sat on the couch, she felt something hard under the cushion. "[Seagal] said, 'Oh oh, that's my — sorry, I must have left my gun there.' And he took out from under the cushion this big black pistol." This would be enough to set anyone on edge, and Seagal then put the gun on his nightstand and asked to read her palm, saying he was "a healer." With the gun just out of his reach, she blurted out that she had to leave and virtually sprinted out the door. Recounting the same story to podcaster Jenny Hutt in 2017, Margulies said that she learned from the experience, and that she would later turn down a similar hotel room meeting — with disgraced, imprisoned ex-movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Ronda Rousey

There is a legendary story in the martial arts community, the veracity of which is undetermined, about an incident that allegedly took place on the set of "Out for Justice," on which the late judo master Gene LeBell was a stunt coordinator. The story goes that Steven Seagal claimed to LeBell that, as an aikido master, he could get out of any hold LeBell could throw at him, and insisted on proving it. LeBell promptly put Seagal in a chokehold from which he could not escape, causing him to pass out and ... well, to soil himself.

MMA icon Ronda Rousey, a former student of LeBell, could not help but refer to the alleged incident when asked by MMA Interviews in 2012 if Seagal was the super badass he said he was. (He claimed that he had taught the great MMA champ Anderson Silva the front kick that he had used to knock out Vitor Belfort to earn the championship the previous year.) "Obviously the guy's a liar," Rousey said, before invoking the name of LeBell, who at the time was pushing 70. "Gene LeBell would destroy Steven Seagal again," she said. "I'd still put my money on him to this day." Apparently unable to stop talking, Rousey said she "didn't want to give anyone a quote" before doing just that. "I would beat the crap out of Steven Seagal," she asserted. "I would have to make him crap his pants a second time."


The late rap legend DMX was known to dabble in acting, and he appeared with Steven Seagal in a pair of films: the grimly titled "Exit Wounds" in 2001, and the generically titled "Beyond the Law," one of the worst Steven Seagal movies of all time, in 2019. The latter effort must certainly have been nothing but a payday for both parties; Seagal is not generally known to abide people trash-talking him, and after his experience on the former film, DMX talked enough to overflow a landfill.

For his part, Seagal publicly had nothing but good things to say about DMX after the movie wrapped. Speaking with IGN after the 2001 premiere, he said, "I kind of investigated him a little before we began, and there were no surprises. DMX was a gentleman with me. He's reflective, thoughtful, gentle ... You know, he respects me and I respect him." DMX, however, remember their on-set rapport just a bit differently. In an interview with the now-defunct Rap Dirt (via FandomWire), DMX called his former co-star "a f***ing s***head with spray-on hair. He talked like he was an old slavemaster. 'Hey, wassup? We's gonna have us a barbecue.' I was just like, 'Man, who the f*** do you think you're talking to?'" He went on to describe how he and his wife joked about Seagal's alleged appalling behavior behind his back, and wound up his remarks by calling Seagal an "a**hole." Eventually, though, the rapper's anger toward Seagal apparently cooled; all it took was a paycheck, and a couple decades.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).