Scene deleted from new movie 'The Predator' after director hires his registered sex offender friend
Movie director Shane Black has been forced to issue an apology this week after it transpired that a personal friend he cast in his upcoming film, The Predator, was a registered sex offender.
The actor, Steven Wilder Striegel, was cast to appear opposite Oliva Munn in a scene where he played a character who was hitting on her. Munn then later reported Striegel to Fox on August 15th, though it is not clear where exactly she heard about his former offences.
Fox responded by deleting the scene from the film, and Black has come forward with his own statement about what happened.
"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 apologise to all of those, past and present, I’ve let down by having Steve around them without giving them a voice in the decision."
This is not the first time that Black has cast Striegel in one of his films, however. In 2013, he starred in Iron Man 3, and, in 2016, he made an appearance in The Nice Guys.
What's more, Striegel himself has claimed that Black was well aware of his criminal past.
"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," he said. "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."
Striegel's offences date back to 2010, at which time he was found guilty of two felonies: risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer. He was charged with these crimes after it was discovered that he attempted to coax a 14-year-old girl into a sexual relationship by contacting her via the internet. He served a six-month prison sentence for his actions, and was placed on the sex offenders register.
Fox has attempted to distance themselves from the situation, saying that they had no idea Black's friend had such a dark history.
"Our studio was not aware of Mr. Striegel’s background when he was hired," they told Variety this week. "Several weeks ago, when the studio learned the details, his one scene in the film was removed within 24 hours. We were not aware of his background during the casting process due to legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors."
Munn has said that she is "relieved" to know that Fox took "appropriate action" after learning about Striegel, but also noted that she found it "unsettling" that Black did not tell any of the cast or crew about his friend's past before giving him a role in the film.
The Predator is set to show in cinemas in the USA later this month - without Striegel's scene, of course.