Days before 20th Century Fox was set to confirm the final cut of Shane Black's The Predator, the studio put the kibosh on a scene that featured Olivia Munn and a real-world sex offender, writes The Los Angeles Times.
The offender in question is Black's friend Steven Wilder Striegel, who, in 2010, was charged with allegedly attempting to engage in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl via the Internet. He served six months in jail after pleading guilty to two separate felonies: "risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer."
Striegel played a jogger who hits on Munn's character, Casey Bracket, in a three-page scene, but when the actress learned of his criminal record last month, she appealed to Fox executives, stating that she was both "surprised and unsettled" that Black did not inform his cast and crew of Striegel’s criminal history.
“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.”
Munn was pleased that the studio took swift and decisive action, saying:
“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.”
Before joining The Predator, Striegel was known for his roles on shows like Days of Our Lives and Melrose Place. He met Black in 2004, when he was invited to the director's house for a pizza and movie night by a mutual friend. After serving his six months in prison, he played bit parts in two other Black productions, Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys.
"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," Black said in his own statement to The Times.
The Predator will make its worldwide premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 7, before opening in theaters everywhere on Sept. 14. Starring alongside Munn are Boyd Holbrook, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Alfie Allen, Jake Busey, and Jacob Tremblay.