“The Predator” went through a last minute change just days before locking the final picture after 20th Century Fox discovered that one of Olivia Munn’s scene partners was a registered sex offender (via the Los Angeles Times). Director Shane Black cast his friend Steven Wilder Striegel as a jogger who hits on Munn’s biologist character in a brief three-page scene. Striegel plead guilty in 2010 after being accused of luring a 14-year-old girl into a sexual relationship on the internet.
Munn was the first to discover the news about Striegel and reported it to Fox on August 15. Studio executives made the quick decision to remove the actor from the movie. A Fox spokesperson told the Times the studio was “not aware of Mr. Striegel’s background when he was hired” and noted one of the reasons for being unaware was “due to legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors.”
Black, however, was aware of Striegel being a registered sex offender when he was cast in “The Predator.” The Times reports Striegel and Black had already been friends for five years when the former was arrested in 2009. Striegel served six months in jail after pleading guilty to risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer.
“I personally chose to help a friend,” Black said in a statement to The Times about casting Striegel in “The Predator.” “I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly.”
Black continued by telling the Times he believed Striegel was “caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous.” The director previously cast Striegel in his movies “Iron Man 3” and “The Nice Guys,” both of which were shot and released after the actor’s release from prison.
“I’ve known Shane Black 14 years, well before this incident, and I think it’s worth noting that he was aware of the facts,” Striegel told the Times. “Shane can speak for himself, but I’m quite certain that if he felt I was a danger in any way to have around, he would not have.”
Munn said she was “surprised and unsettled” that Black did not share the information about Striegel’s history to the cast or crew at any point during production on “The Predator.” “However, I am 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,” she added.
“The Predator” is set to world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before Fox releases the film nationwide September 14.