From its Steven Spielberg-esque first teaser to a more recent gore-heavy red-band trailer, Shane Black’s The Predator looks exactly like the kind of film that fans of the original series have come to expect. Yet not everything that glistens as richly as the copious amounts of fake blood the pseudo-reboot promises to drown its viewers in is gold. This is especially true following a Los Angeles Times report about Steven Wilder Striegel, a longtime friend of Black, whose short scene in the movie with Olivia Munn was cut after 20th Century Fox found out he was a registered sex offender.
According to the report, Fox didn’t know about Striegel’s past until Munn, who only found out about it after shooting a short scene with him, informed them:
Munn learned that Striegel is a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty in 2010 after facing allegations that he attempted to lure a 14-year-old female into a sexual relationship via the internet. When Munn shared the information with Fox on Aug. 15, studio executives quickly decided to excise him from the movie.
“Our studio was not aware of Mr. Striegel’s background when he was hired,” a Fox spokesperson said in a statement to The Times. “We were not aware of his background during the casting process due to legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors.”
The paper notes that Black and Striegel had been friends for five years when the latter was arrested in 2009, suggesting that the writer and director knew about the actor’s charges and guilty plea. To make matters worse, Striegel’s first two roles following six months of jail time were minor parts in Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, both written and directed by Black. Yet as the filmmaker explained in a statement, he “personally chose to help a friend” and stood by that decision. “I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly.”
Even so, Munn told the Times that she found it “both surprising and unsettling that Shane Black, our director, did not share this information to the cast, crew, or Fox Studios prior to, during, or after production.” The actress added she was “relieved that when Fox finally did receive the information, the studio took appropriate action by deleting the scene featuring Wilder prior to release of the film.”
UPDATE: Black issued an additional statement on Thursday, saying “it has sadly become clear to me that I was misled by a friend.” He also apologized for “having Steve around” without informing the rest of the cast and crew in advance:
“Having read this morning’s news reports, it has sadly become clear to me that I was misled by a friend I really wanted to believe was telling me the truth when he described the circumstances of his conviction. I believe strongly in giving people second chances — but sometimes you discover that chance is not as warranted as you may have hoped.
“After learning more about the affidavit, transcripts and additional details surrounding Steve Striegel’s sentence, I am deeply disappointed in myself. I apologize to all of those, past and present, I’ve let down by having Steve around them without giving them a voice in the decision.”
(Via Los Angeles Times)