These days, Steven Seagal is more of a punchline than anything. But there was an era in which he was a legitimate action star, despite having all the acting prowess of a box of packing peanuts. After all, this is a guy who — according to Hollywood legend — only had a career because of a bet. The studio at one point campaigned for Seagal in the lead role, and needless to say, Twohy wasn’t looking forward to having the martial artist foisted upon him. It got to the point where Twohy even threatened to leave the film, but thankfully the studio relented, allowing him to cast Diesel in the part. And the director remains grateful, as he told Yahoo!:
“He saved me from a fate worse than death when the studio wanted to cast Steven Seagal as Riddick. I fought hammer and tongs to make that not happen, even though somebody along the line had promised [Seagal] the role. I had to unwind all that nonsense.”
We’re pretty grateful, too. We like “Under Siege” as much as the next fan of cheesy ’90s action movies, but it’s hard to fathom Seagal playing Riddick. We’re not going to argue that Diesel is the world’s greatest thespian, but he was certainly a much better fit for the role, as evidenced by the film’s continued popularity and multiple sequels. Taking away his voice acting in “The Iron Giant” and as Groot, Richard B. Riddick has become the second most iconic role in Diesel’s filmography, behind only Dominic Toretto. It feels pretty unlikely that an alternate version of “Pitch Black” starring Seagal would have produced anything more than a tepid reception and, in true Seagal fashion, a bevy of straight-to-DVD sequels.