Oh Steven Seagal. How the mighty fall. From the respectable heights of Under Siege to the deplorable depths of Half Past Dead. It’s no secret Seagal went, uh, off the path as his films transitioned from the silver screen to direct to video, but you don’t realise just how far until you listen to storyteller extraordinaire Stephen Tobolowsky explain how it was working with the guy.
Tobolowsky’s body of work is extensive, though his most memorable, recent outing has been the role of Jack Barker in HBO’s Silicon Valley.
For this story however, we need to wind the clocks back to 1996, when Tobolowsky was cast in The Glimmer Man, directed by John Gray. They didn’t even get through the first day of filming before Gray and Tobolowsky were faced with a Seagal-related problem… and a big one at that:
[Gray said] “Steven Seagal has had a spiritual sort of crisis, a spiritual awakening. He decided that he doesn’t want to kill people anymore in movies.” … “Warner Brothers is very upset, they say ‘Steven, I understand what you’re doing, but you dance with who brung ya. You kill people really good. And in this movie, you have to kill people.'”
Not the greatest revelation to have at the start of a shoot and it made Tobolowsky’s scene with Seagal just that much harder:
The problem is, in the scene, I was playing a serial killer and the whole scene is about him killing me.
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story — Tobolowsky’s retelling is pure gold. It’s sufficient to say, the veteran actor was more diplomatic and accommodating than I would have been.