A scene has been deleted from the new “Predator” reboot movie due to the featured actor being a registered sex offender, which director Shane Black apparently knew about for several years since the two were good friends.
According to the Los Angeles Times, 47-year-old actor Steven Wilder Striegel pleaded guilty to two felonies in 2010 for attempting to lure a 14-year-old girl into a sexual relationship via the internet. He spent six months in jail for “risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer.” Having been friends with famed writer/director Shane Black (“Lethal Weapon”) for over five years, the director went on to cast him in several films, including “Iron Man 3” and “The Nice Guys.”
In the upcoming film “The Predator,” Striegel (ironically or not-so-ironically) had a small role in a three-page scene alongside actress Olivia Munn as a jogger who repeatedly hits on her character. When Munn found out about his past, she immediately shared the information with Fox Studios demanding his scene be cut. Executives claim to have had no idea about his past.
“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.”
Director Shane Black, who became friends with Striegel in 2004 after being invited to his home for pizza and a movie, knew of the actor’s past crimes and chose to cast him anyway. He defended his decision as one designed to “help a friend.”
“I personally chose to help a friend,” Black said in a written statement to the Times. “I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly.”
Black claims that Striegel was “caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous.”
Actress Olivia Munn, who became a prominent #MeToo whistleblower this past year with accusations against Director Brett Ratner, found Black’s decision to keep Striegel’s crimes a secret “both surprising and unsettling.”
“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.”
Striegel did not even have to audition for his part in the movie. “The character I played was named after a mutual friend of ours, and it seemed a good fit,” he wrote in an email.
“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 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.”