The Glimmer Man and the craziest Steven Seagal story you will ever hear

Steven Seagal is eccentric, but he reached new heights alongside Keenen Ivory Wayans.

Steven Seagal in The Glimmer Man.
Steven Seagal is the Glimmer Man But his co-stars may have other names for him. Image Warner Bros

It’s 20 years since The Glimmer Man arrived in cinemas, setting the tone for much of Steven Seagal’s work in the time since, as the martial arts legend set about squandering what little box office pulling power he once had.

Some will point to Seagal’s self-directed 1994 effort, On Deadly Ground, as the moment he lost his A-list status, but The Glimmer Man was undoubtedly the final straw.

Playing the role of Lieutenant Jack Cole, an ex-government operative nicknamed,“The Glimmer Man” because he was able to move so quickly and quietly through jungle combat zones that soldiers would only see a “glimmer” before they were dead, this time Seagal was on the hunt for a serial killer.

Partnered with Jim Campbell (Keenon Ivory Wayans) the filmmakers evidently had designs on replicating Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scott, though this time round the pairing failed to demonstrate even the smallest spark during their hunt for Stephen Tobolowsky’s killer Christopher Maynard.

Steven Seagal and Keenan Ivory Wayans in The Glimmer Man.
Seagal and Wayans Not quite Willis and Wayans Image Warner Bros

That would be the guy know for playing Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day.

Seagal has always been known for his odd behaviour on set and it was no different on The Glimmer Man. Wayans recalled a time when Seagal appeared with a script on set, declaring it the best he had ever read in his entire life. When Wayans asked who wrote it, Seagal’s reply was simple: “I did.”

Yet, as Tobolowsky recounts in the video below, even stranger was to come when they began filming the movie’s confrontational gunfight between Cole and Maynard.

Simply put: Seagal was not happy with the ending or, more specifically, the fact he would have to kill Tobolowsky’s character. Because it’s important to remember: Seagal’s character Cole was a Buddhist, so it was against his religion to fight…

“John Gray [the director] came in and told me in a panic that Steven Seagal wanted to rewrite the script. He decided it was bad for his karma to constantly be killing people in movies, so he didn’t want to kill me anymore.

And I said, “Well, it’s important in the script that he kills me, because I’m, like, a serial killer.” And he said, “Don’t get into it with him. He believes it hurts his karmic development if he were to kill people.”

And Warner Brothers is furious, because they told Steven, “Steven, we hired you because you’re good at killing people. And you know, you dance with who brung you. We’re not casting you to do a peace-loving cop, we’re casting you to murder people.”

When it initially came time to film, Tobolowsky found a way to convince Seagal otherwise though, telling him that in killing his character he “would actually be freeing me to come back in a reincarnational form as something better, and I would be able to atone for my sins here on Earth.”

A couple of months went by before Tobolowsky received another call from Gray:

“He said, “Oh, dear. We’re in trouble. Steven Seagal started ad-libbing in another scene about, ‘Thank God I didn’t kill the guy in the church.’ So we have to find some way to add some lines to indicate that you’re not dead. So can you come in and look at the scene and see if we can put something into the film to indicate that you are still alive?”

“John Gray said, ‘Maybe you can add a line off-camera here.’ And I said, ‘Like what? What would I add? Like, ‘You missed me!’ or, ‘Thank God it’s just a flesh wound,’ or ‘Oh no! I’m injured!’’ I mean, my whole chest exploded.

“So I added, off-camera, [Short, deep breaths.] ‘Finish me. Finish me off, you son of a bitch! Finish me!’ [Laughs.] It’s ludicrous! And I don’t know what they ended up showing.”

Oddly enough, Tobolowsky’s lines were ultimately omitted from the finished film but it did not matter one jot – The Glimmer Man made just over $20m at the box office off the back of a budget of around $45m.

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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.