Steven Seagal is… Doing an interview for CraveOnline. He's promoting his latest action film, Maximum Conviction, where he stars along with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as ex-Black Ops agents defending a secret government prison from a small army of mercenaries, led by Michael Pare, trying to extract one of the inmates against their will. Maximum Conviction is one Seagal's better action films in recent years, so he's happy to talk about it, but he's also game to talk about some of his earlier films, like Executive Decision (he reveals the truth behind his scene-stealing extended cameo), and where he'd like to go with Under Siege 3.
Maximum Conviction debuts on DVD, Blu-ray and On Demand on November 6, 2012.
CraveOnline: You haven’t done too many team ups with other action stars before Maximum Conviction. I was wondering how this came together.
Steven Seagal: Well, somebody said just take a look at this script, and this story, and I liked it. They said Steve [Austin] wants to do it, and I met him and liked him, and thought that we could be a good kind of team together. That’s sort of how it turned out. We had good chemistry together, and I thought it worked out great.
Had other opportunities to work in similar team up projects arrived at your doorstep before this?
You know, they did offer me Expendables and stuff like this. I’m sure that there have been offers in the past, and some I would make and some I wouldn’t make.
One thing I noticed in this film, Tom Steele doesn’t put a lot of faith in the government, and I’ve noticed that that’s a recurring theme in a lot of your movies. Are you still passionate about that? Is that an issue for you.
I have faith in the military, you know I have faith in special forces, I have faith in our police departments, but it depends on… You say, “the government.” It depends on what the regime is, who’s in power at the time.
There’s a scene I love in this particular film, where you snap a guy’s arm off your knee, and then call him a p*ssy because it hurts. Is that sort of thing in the script or are such a badass that you ad lib that on the day?
No, I just made that up. Because I can be really a funny guy.
You’ve done so many action movies of so many different stripes. Do you have any favorite action sequences or fight scenes from any of your films that you feel is you at your best?
Gosh, it’s probably a few. I did like the action [in] Marked for Death, some of the sequences in that. Then in Out for Justice, the bar scene. Those are the scenes that pop to mind right now.
What makes a good action sequence in your eyes?
Well to me it’s something that’s realistic, that is not contrived, and is not kind of p*ssy, and something that people haven’t seen over and over again, you know?
One thing I think a lot of people love about a lot of your movies is that the titles were prepositional phrases, so a lot of them could begin with “Steven Seagal is… Out for Justice or Marked for Death.” Was that intentional the whole time?
Once again, that was a Warner Bros. marketing decision with someone who would have been probably in charge of coming up with titles, and that was their idea. I had nothing do with any of that.
Fair enough. When I was younger and saw Executive Decision, my mind was completely blown when you died like half an hour into the film. Was that how the role was presented to you, as “We’re going to screw with the audience, it’s going to be a really great scene?”
No. I think that I shouldn’t say this, but it’s true, that I was told, anyway, whether it’s true or not… Let’s just put it that way, I was told that they did not think that Kurt Russell could sell that movie, and they wanted to put me in it because that they figured me, and Halle Berry, and you know, everybody else, that it would sell and that’s why they did that. But they didn’t want to pay me for the length of the show. They gave me like a million dollars a day or something like that.
Both of Under Siege films were really, really great. There were rumors, and I don’t know if it was just schoolyard talk, that there would be an Under Siege 3 at some point. Was there ever a lot of serious talk about doing an Under Siege 3?
Everybody on Earth has wanted to do that. I mean, everybody has wanted to do that. Everyone. But there was a big fight between Regency and Warner Bros. that never got put to bed or settled, and that’s why it hasn’t been made.
Did you have anywhere you would have liked to have gone with Casey Ryback in a third film?
Where would I have gone, storywise?
Yeah, if you had had your pick.
For a third show, is that what you mean?
I mean there has been a lot of conjecture on the different ideas. What I didn’t want to do was do another, “Oh, terrorists take over the Empire State Building,” or something like that. I wanted to do something really unusual. That’s what I wanted, something that was very, very different. And I still, still think it’s possible to make Under Siege 3, and to come up with a different storyline.
I hope so. Your action movies tend to go straight to video these days. I’m wondering if that level of production offers you more freedom creatively.
Well, of course. Of course. I have almost total control much of the time. Sometimes I don’t, but much of the time. But it’s also just a sign of the times. Right now, I think the movie business is down 90%, and no one will tell you that, no one will admit that, but I believe it to be true. After the elections, depending upon what happens with it, it’s going to get better or maybe it’s going to get worse. But right now, and for the last four to five years, the movie business has been really, really suppressed.
You haven’t directed a film since Fire Down Below. What would it take to get you back in the director’s chair again? Or have you lost interest?
No, I haven’t been directing, and what would it take? […] If I had a great story and an offer to direct it, I would direct it.