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Everything Steven Seagal And Jean-Claude Van Damme Have Said About Each Other

The 1980s and 1990s brought a whole new crop of stars to revamp the action movie industry. From Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sylvester Stallone, some were beefy brute forces. And then there were those like Bruce Willis and Kurt Russell, who had more of an everyman charm. And lastly, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal revitalized the martial arts movies made famous by Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. While there was always a natural competition between these people looking to cut their own slice of the industry pie for themselves, Van Damme and Seagal have a legendary feud where they almost came to blows, according to some.

Seagal hit the screens in 1988 with his first film, "Above the Law," seeing him as a Vietnam vet who uncovers a corrupt faction within the CIA. What followed was a handful of hits (including the ones he delivered in the movies) over the next few years, including "Marked for Death," "Hard to Kill," "Executive Decision," and two films in the "Under Siege" franchise. While he has since been mainly relegated to direct-to-DVD or streaming, he solidified himself as one of the premiere action stars of his time in the '90s.

Jean-Claude Van Damme had a handful of films under his belt before he exploded onto the screens with his portrayal of real-life martial artist Frank Dux in "Bloodsport." He collected a long list of hits in the next decade, including "Kickboxer," "Universal Soldier," "Double Impact," "Timecop," and even an appearance as himself on "Friends." He also has been relegated to the low-budget bargain bins of the movie industry, and the two action stars have been going at it all along, thanks to some harsh words by Seagal.

Seagal doubted Van Damme's martial arts credentials

Feuds can get started over some of the tiniest things sometimes, but when you criticize someone's ability on national TV (and on one of the biggest talk shows of the time), you are bound to get a reaction. That is how this little squabble got started, as Steven Seagal went on "The Arsenio Hall Show" and had words to say about his fellow action star. In the interview, Seagal began by not wanting to answer the question about Van Damme, though he eventually let his feelings be known.

"I just promised all my mentors I was going to be a good boy," Seagal said before being pressed on the answer by Hall. "I think that's a matter of opinion that he was champion anywhere. I'm not being catty or anything; I wish the guy all the best. But there are an awful lot of people who say that's not true." Seagal didn't give any more information on who those "awful lot" of people were, but he definitely seemed confident when he called the Belgian star out.

Van Damme's history with martial arts reaches all the way back to when he was 10 years old and enrolled in Shotokan Karate. He added kickboxing, bodybuilding, and dancing to his repertoire before setting his sights on Hollywood.

Van Damme called Seagal out and criticized his fitness

Just by looking at the two stars and watching their movies, it is clear that the two have wildly different styles. While Steven Seagal is an action star who focuses more on guns and judo chops (enter "Austin Powers" reference), there is rarely a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie that doesn't feature him going shirtless and performing his trademark high-flying kicks. Over the years, Seagal's body has changed, causing him to be the target of body shaming. And after meeting at Planet Hollywood, Van Damme took his shots at his rival's weight.

As he admitted in an interview with Movieline (via Manly Movie), Van Damme approached Seagal and confronted him about the comments he made on TV. "Well, he's a good guy, but he's too tense. I saw him in Planet Hollywood, and I said, 'Hey, Steven, you speak bad about me on TV. Why? I said, 'Come on, look, I'm a nice guy. Am I a bad guy?' I shook his hand, he relaxed. Hey, it's okay if he wants to say things. It's not my problem." After telling the story, the actor continued on to give his fellow action star a little advice on how he could become better in the genre.

"He's not in good physical shape, absolutely not. He came on the screen playing a macho guy who fights in a suit. Women love that." The "Kickboxer" star went on to say that he has to do something more if he wants to make it as an action hero, adding, "I believe he's got some charisma. Now he has to change, to find something new. It will be ... difficult."

The infamous Sly Stallone party escalated it

When two of the biggest stars on the planet start to feud, it will undoubtedly cause ripples through the community and drag other people into the feud with them. One of the more legendary aspects of this conflict is a confrontation that took place in the mid-'90s, where both tough guys were at a party at Sylvester Stallone's house. The two began to chirp back and forth, and Jean-Claude Van Damme, once again, felt this was the perfect opportunity to settle the score and show once and for all who was boss. In a Q&A session with Ain't it Cool News, the "Rocky" actor recalled the moment when Van Damme and Steven Seagal almost fought.

"I remember once, at my home in Miami, I believe it was in '96 or'97, Van Damme was there with Seagal, Willis, Schwarzenegger, Shaquille O'Neal, Don Johnson, and Madonna," Stallone remembered. "It was a heck of a party. Van Damme was tired of Seagal saying he could kick his ass and went right up to him and offered him the chance to step outside so he could wipe the floor with him, or should I say wipe the backyard with him. Seagal made some excuse and left. His destination was some Ocean Drive nightclub in Miami. Van Damme, who was completely berserk, tracked him down and again offered him a fight, and again Seagal pulled a Houdini."

While we would love to see two powerhouses in the action genre come together on screen to go face-to-face, it is probably better for everyone that cooler heads prevail and no furniture gets broken.

Seagal shaded Van Damme on his reality show

Maybe one of the most notable projects that Steven Seagal has done since his glory days of the early 1990s is his reality series, "Steven Seagal: Lawman." The series follows the veteran actor, who also worked as a sheriff's deputy for some time, as he recreates the series "Cops," only this time starring himself going after the bad boys. Since he spends time around a bunch of hard-nosed police officers throughout the show's run, it was only a matter of time before someone asked him if it was true that he got in a fight with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

"Nooo," the "Exit Wounds" actor says while sitting in the passenger seat of the patrol car during one scene. "It would be like me squashing an ant." When the officers press him and tell him that they thought they had read in the National Enquirer that Van Damme "whipped some aikido a**," he responds with a very short and sweet comment. "When he sees me, he runs."

Of course, Sylvester Stallone seemed to confirm the opposite that Seagal was running from Van Damme, but since there was never any film evidence, we will just have to make up our own minds.

Van Damme took aim at Seagal's weight ... again

On the flip side of the feud, Jean-Claude Van Damme has had a few big moments in the years since his '90s heyday as well. One was starring in a parody of his life on Amazon Prime, "Jean-Claude Van Johnson." The other, and definitely the most notable, was when he landed the role as the villain in the sequel, "Expendables 2." Since he was appearing in his former party host's film, he did a press tour and got to answer some big questions about the series. One question was who he would like to see in "Expendables 3." When the interviewer suggested Steven Seagal, he reiterated his comments about his fellow actor's weight.

"I would love to see Steven Seagal in part three," the actor said in one interview. "He should lose some weight." When the interviewer began to laugh, he doubled down. "No, no, jokes on the side. So he can be a little more fast. I have met the guy a few times. Nice guy; doesn't like me much. I like the guy. Good guy. Good charisma; he has got something special on the screen. I would love to see him there." Responding to a follow-up question on why Seagal doesn't like him, Van Damme said, "Maybe because I am good. Very good."

There are a lot of ways to feud with someone, but in the instances with Van Damme commenting on Seagal, he seemed to try and remain positive while referencing the aikido master's body mass.

Other actors have remarked about Seagal

Unfortunately for Steven Seagal, his candor and bluntness in calling out others on their ability to actually perform martial arts has caused other famous people to say negative things about him. In an interviewLiam Neeson responded to Seagal's comment that he didn't know how to throw a punch. UFC legend Ronda Rousey ripped into him about his aikido background, as well as his comments about martial artist Gene LeBell. Many other celebrities have come forward to discuss the actor's comments and behavior, including Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo.

Speaking to Vlad TV, White responded to an interview where Steven Seagal was asked if his fellow action star was a tough guy. "Can I laugh in your face?" Seagal allegedly said. "I felt like Steven embarrassed himself because Steven hired me three different times himself," White said in response. "Why? If I am not a good martial artist." 

White continued talking about Seagal and his behavior, sarcastically quipping, "Well, when you think about martial arts, you think of being healthy, humble, respectful, disciplined ... All that stuff has Steven Seagal written all over it."

Leguizamo, who worked with Seagal on "Executive Decision," shared his own experience with the actor. When talking to Entertainment Weekly about his role in "The Menu," he said, "I've met lots of these stars like that, maybe before they were washed up, I kind of based mine on Steven Seagal. I had a bad run-in with him. We did a movie together. It was 'Executive Decision.' He's kind of a horrible human."