Actor Steven Seagal - best known for his starring roles in a number of blockbuster action films - has been appointed as a special representative for Russian-U.S. humanitarian ties by Russia's Foreign Ministry. A practitioner of akidio who spent several years living and studying in Japan, Seagal returned to the United States and opened a dojo in North Hollywood. It was there that Seagal took on legendary agent Michael Ovitz as a student and Ovitz later set up a demonstration of Seagal's martial arts talents that won him a contract with Warner Bros.
Seagal came up with the story for what would become his first movie, Above The Law, and would go on star in action films such as Under Siege, Hard To Kill, and Out For Justice. More recently, Seagal appeared as himself in the reality television series Steven Seagal: Lawman, which focused upon Seagal's adventures as a fully-commissioned deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana. Seagal has also written and starred in several direct-to-video action films, as well as the Reelz network original series True Justice. And now, he's going to try to utilize his knowledge of movies to improve relations between Russia and the United States.
Reuters reports that Russia's Foreign Ministry has appointed Steven Seagal as a special representative to strengthen the nation's ties with the United States with regard to the culture, arts, and youth. The appointment is a purely ceremonial post, supposedly akin to that of a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. Seagal won't receive a salary from the Russian government and will have no official responsibilities.
Some might ask why Seagal was afforded this honor, given that he is not as prominent on the world stage as he once was. The fact that he was specifically appointed to improve "youth relations" is perplexing given that even the oldest of millennials would be hard-pressed to remember Seagal's glory days in the early 1990s. The answer may lie in the fact that Seagal is reportedly a close personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Seagal was present when Putin was sworn into office for his fourth term earlier this year and had been granted Russian citizenship by Putin's order in 2016.
Even ignoring the apparently political nature of his appointment, Seagal may have a hard time improving the relationship between Americans and Russians given his own reputation in his native land. Many former co-stars have complained of Seagal having a violent temper, with actor John Leguizamo claiming he had been physically attacked and thrown into a wall after laughing at Seagal. The action star has also faced multiple accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault, with actresses Jenny McCarthy, Portia de Rossi, and Rachel Grant alleging that Seagal made unwanted advances towards them during auditions for roles in his movies. Given the prominence of the #MeToo campaign in the current zeitgeist, Seagal seems to be a poor choice for any kind of good-will position aimed at young artists and creators in America.