Becoming Limitless: How Steven Seagal Grew His $16 Million Net Worth

There’s no way you can mention the greatest martial artist actors of all time without including the name, Steven Seagal, regardless of the negative propaganda that may be spread about him. Born in the state of Michigan in the U.S. in 1952, Seagal seems to personify the term ‘limitless’. He’s an accomplished 7th dan black belt in aikido, an accomplished movie star, screenwriter, producer, and musician! Throughout the late 1980s, into the ’90s, and the early part of the 2000s, Seagal made his presence felt on the big screen with many martial arts-inspired movies, and he also starred opposite some of Hollywood’s greatest celebrities, such as Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey, Sharon Stone, Katherine Heigl, Morris Chestnut, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Isaiah Washington, Tom Arnold, Anthony Anderson, and the late rapper DMX.

His active and thriving acting career over the years rewarded him with a net worth of $16 million, which he enjoys by traveling to the three countries where he has been given citizenship, namely Serbian and Russian, in addition to being an American. Here is how this martial arts master made his name, money, and fame.

From Martial Arts To Movie Parts

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As stated, Seagal was born in Lansing, Michigan to his parents Patricia and Samuel Seagal. But from the age of five, they relocated to Fullerton, California, where he attended Fullerton College between 1970 and 1971 after graduating from high school. Admittedly, he was a scrawny kid back then but had it not been for his move to California, he would not have been introduced to martial arts. He displayed interest in martial arts from an early age and was encouraged by a Japanese co-worker at a Garden Gove dojo to visit Japan. He did so at only seventeen years old between 1971 and 1973.

After returning in 1974, he met the daughter of an Osako aikido master who was teaching aikido in Los Angeles. Before beginning his acting career, he returned with her to Osaka, Japan, where he taught aikido and opened a dojo of his own. Upon his return to America, he opened two aikido dojos, one in Taos, New Mexico, and the other in West Hollywood, California. Although he was not Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee, he was now an established aikido instructor. His competence would now be seen through his acting.

Leaving his partners, Craig Dunn and Haruo Matsuoka, to oversee the dojos, Seagal began pursuing acting in Hollywood, marketing himself as a martial arts coordinator. This led to his first role as an actor in the 1988 crime action film, Above The Law, starring beside Pam Grier and Sharon Stone, and grossing $18.7 million against a budget of $7.5 million. Following the film’s success, he went on to star in Hard to Kill, featuring Kelly LeBrock, and Marked for Death, starring Joanna Pacula and Keith David, both released in 1990. The films were yet again a financial success, grossing $59 million and $58 million respectively. The following year, he appeared in another action film alongside William Forsythe and Gina Gershon called Out for Justice, which did $39.6 million at the box office. By this time, his legitimacy as a martial arts fighter and action star was being made known.

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Continued Success For The Action Hero

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In 1992, he continued his reign in the mainstream action genre by starring in Under Siege, directed by Andrew Davis, and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Erika Eleniak, and Gary Busey. The film went on to gross $156.6 million, making it the highest-grossing film at that time in his career. Then, in 1994, he made his directorial debut in the action-adventure film, On Deadly Ground, in which he also acted. The film saw Seagal step back from his usual role as a justice-seeking cop and focused on themes of environmental issues. While it was poorly received by critics, it still managed to gross $78.1 million at the box office. Along for the ride were actors Michael Caine and John C. McGinley.

Ignoring the criticism from his first directed film, the Code of Honor actor fired back with what is considered one of his most successful films, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, in 1995, grossing $105 million at the box office. Subsequently, he worked on ’90s films such as Executive Decision (1996), starring Kurt Russell, Halle Berry, and Oliver Patt, which grossed $122 million, and the buddy cop action film, The Glimmer Man (1996) alongside Keenan Ivory Wayans. Similar to On Deadly Ground, Seagal’s 1997 action film, Fire Down Below, highlighted environmental injustices, much to the distaste of movie critics, despite featuring legends like Kris Kristofferson and Stephen Lang. True to the passion for his craft, Seagal produced and funded the 1998 action thriller, The Patriot, which again received negative reviews. But the persistent martial artist remained undaunted and continued producing into the new millennium.

Other Movies And Side Projects

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Into the 2000s, the actor and musician continued his evergreen acting career, playing the lead actor in the neo-noir action film, Exit Wounds, in 2001, opposite DMX, Isaiah Washington, Michael Jai White, and Eva Mendes, which amassed $80 million at the box office. The following year, he shared the screen with Morris Chestnut and Ja Rule in Half Past Dead, which didn’t fare well at the box office. Many of the movies he released around this time were DTVs (direct-to-video) in North America, so there aren’t many box office figures to go off of.

Over the next few years, Seagal showed no signs of stoppage and appeared in various films, including Kill Switch (2008) starring Isaac Hayes; Mercenary For Justice featuring Luke Goss; Submerged (2005), Ticker (2001) starring Ice-T, Nas, and Dennis Hopper; and a host of other action films. His most recent films include General Commander (2019), Beyond the Law (2019) with Bill Cobbs, China Salesman (2017) featuring Mike Tyson, Cartels (2017), Machete (2010) starring Robert De Niro, Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jessica Alba, and various other projects.

Apart from film, Seagal has also appeared in the A&E television series, Steven Seagal: Lawman as well as the 13-episode series, True Justice. According to Celebrity Net Worth,  he has also founded his own company, Seagal Enterprises, which he used to market a short-lived energy drink, Steven Segal’s Lightning Bolt in 2005. Also, as an avid guitar player, the former Reserve Deputy Chief released two music albums featuring Stevie Wonder and reggae singer, Tony Rebel. Now at 70 years old, he has truly lived a full and limitless life full of travel and adventure.

READ NEXT: 10 Hollywood Actors Who Are Also Certified Martial Artists

Sources: Celebrity Net Worth, Pitch Fork, The Action Elite

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