20th Century Fox cut a three-page scene out of The Predator at the last minute after learning one of the actors is a registered sex offender. The actor in question, Steven Wilder Striegel, received his role in the action film because he is a friend of director Shane Black. In fact, Striegel previously landed roles in Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys due to his friendship with Black. Fox was unaware of Striegel's sex offender status when he was hired, but were later informed by actress Olivia Munn, who appeared in the now-cut scene with Striegel.
A quasi-sequel to the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie Predator, Shane Black's The Predator features a rag-tag group of soldiers who are called to action when earth is invaded by several Predators, who have modified themselves using the DNA of their vanquished enemies. This time around, the Predators - who in this film are for the first time actually referred to by the name "Predators" - have more than just big-game hunting on their minds. According to director Black, the movie is intended to set up two sequels.
As reported by the L.A. Times, Fox was just days away from locking down the final cut of The Predator when they learned about Steven Wilder Striegel’s sex offender status and made the decision to cut his scene from the film. Somewhat unbelievably, the scene in question featured Striegel as a jogger who repeatedly hits on Olivia Munn's character. The studio told the L.A. Times they were unaware of Striegel’s past history due to “legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors.”
In 2010, one-time soap actor Striegel pleaded guilty after being charged with attempting to lure a 14-year-old female into a sexual relationship over the internet, ultimately serving six months in jail. After news broke of Fox’s move to cut Striegel’s scene from the film, Shane Black defended his decision to cast Striegel in the first place, saying to the L.A. Times in a statement: “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.”
Olivia Munn also weighed in with her own statement, saying she found it “both surprising and unsettling” that Shane Black chose not to share information on Striegel’s background with anyone on the cast or crew. However, Munn said she is “relieved” that Fox made the decision to remove Striegel’s scene from the film after she passed along the information about his past. Striegel himself confirmed that Black was aware of his background, saying “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.”
It definitely appears that Fox dodged a bullet by removing Striegel from the movie just days before they locked down the final cut. The question many will ask is, why does Shane Black continue casting Striegel in his movies if he knows about the actor’s past? Adding to the problematic nature of Striegel’s casting in The Predator is the specific scene he shot with Olivia Munn, which featured him behaving in an overtly sexual manner toward the actress. This certainly seems like a case of questionable judgment on Shane Black’s part.
UPDATE: Black has now released an additional statement, in response to the L.A. Times' article (per THR):
“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.”
Source: LA Times
- The Predator (2018) release date: Sep 14, 2018