Olivia Munn got a registered sex offender cut from her latest film…but why was he cast in the first place?
A mere month before Shane Black’s The Predator hit the big screen at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, September 6th, lead actress Olivia Munn made a request: cut actor Steven Wilder Striegel from the film. The request came after Munn learned that the man, who appeared in a minor scene with the actress, is a registered sex offender.
In 2010, Striegel pleaded guilty to attempting to lure a 14-year-old minor into a sexual relationship over the internet. His name is listed in California’s Meghan’s Law sex offender database, and a quick first and last name search in the database reveals his crime. Although Twentieth Century Fox acted quickly and cut Striegel’s scene out of the movie, many wondered why he was cast in the first place.
"Our studio was not aware of Mr. Striegel’s background when he was hired, a Fox spokesperson told the Los Angeles 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."
However, while Munn and the studio weren’t aware of Striegel’s checkered history, director Shane Black definitely was.
Black and Striegel are old friends and were connected before and during Striegel’s arrest and six-month jail sentence. When Striegel got out of prison, Black cast his friend in minor roles in 2013’s Iron Man 3 and in 2016’s The Nice Guys.
In a statement to the Times published early Thursday morning, September 6th, Black said, “I personally chose to help a friend. I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly.” He continued to say that he believed Striegel was “caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous.”
But after reading several write-ups on the situation and fully educating himself on Striegel’s history, Black released another statement the same day, writing, “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.”
He added that he is “deeply disappointed” in himself for casting Streigel in his films and apologized to those he had put in concerning situations.
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.”
"However," she continued, "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."
While it’s disappointing that Striegel was cast in the first place, we’re so proud of Munn for speaking up—and heartened that Twentieth Century Fox actually listened.