While it’s usually considered Steven Seagal’s best movie, in Under Siege, the pony-tailed star’s screen time was limited.
Andrew Davis’ Under Siege is usually considered Steven Seagal’s best movie. However, at the time, most critics singled out Tommy Lee Jones’s performance as the baddie, Strannix, as a scene-stealer. According to Nick de Semlyen’s new book, “Last Action Heroes”, Jones dominating the film was intentional, as Seagal was somewhat reluctant to sign onto the movie. To help entice the star, his screen time was kept to only about 41 minutes. As Davis tells de Semlyen, “Between the Pentagon stuff and all the other cutaways, Tommy is actually in the movie more than Steven.”
According to Davis, Jones took the lead in reworking his bad guy, who he remembers was “flat” and “boring” in the original script. “Tommy said, ‘Why can’t I be a rock n’roll kinda guy? It was a little weird, but Tommy made it work.” Indeed, Jones’s performance would elevate his career, and just a year later, he would reread with Davis on The Fugitive, a movie that earned him a best supporting actor Oscar.
While Seagal’s screen time may have been limited, his contributions to the action scenes were still highly praised at the time, with Seagal mentioning that Dan Inosanto, the famed martial artist renowned for battling Bruce Lee in Game of Death, approached him at Brandon Lee’s funeral to praised the knife fight between him and Jones. The movie became Steven Seagal’s biggest hit ever, grossing $83 million domestically and $156 million worldwide. The sequel, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, would be made without Davis and would only gross $50 million domestically, although it did better business overseas, earning $104 million worldwide. Recently, WB was talking about doing a reboot.
If you want more cool stories about all the 80s and 90s action icons we grew up with, pick up de Semlyan’s book. Buy it here!
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/under-siege-steven-seagal-only-had-41-minutes-of-screen-time/