Steven Seagal has delivered action-packed films time and time again, and he’s regarded as one of the best in the martial arts genre. It’s no surprise he discovered his passion to fight, defend and entertain in his early days. Seagal was born April 10, 1951 in Lansing, Michigan, but he’d soon find that his purpose extended beyond a small-town existence, moving to Japan as a teenager. While there, Seagal fully embraced the culture, studying Eastern philosophy and earning multiple black belts in aikido, karate, judo and kendo. Using his appetite and agility for martial arts, Seagal became an instructor and occasional choreographer for martial arts films that starred respected greats, like Sean Connery and Toshiro Mifune. After living in Asia for 15 years, Seagal returned to the U.S. and opened a martial arts studio of his own. He became the bodyguard for actress, and his future wife, Kelly LeBrock, along with serving as a bodyguard for heavyweight movie agent Michael Ovitz. With the martial arts talent and entertainment connections, Seagal carved a place for himself in Hollywood, starting with his first film, Above the Law, in 1988. Action-loving moviegoers and critics loved the film, and Seagal continued, starring in 1989’s Hard to Kill. His success skyrocketed in the ‘90s with Under Siege—his most popular film to date— and other action-filled movies, including On Deadly Ground (his directorial debut), Executive Decision and 1998’s The Patriot. He’s also been recognized for his activism and was awarded a PETA Humanitarian Award.