The Predator opens next week. It was revealed just earlier today that 20th Century Fox chose to cut a scene from the film because it included Steven Wilder Striegel, a convicted sex offender, who is also Shane Black's friend of over 14 years. When first reached for comment, Shane Black said that he was trying to help a friend, and noted that he believed Striegel was, "caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous." Now, the director is claiming that he did not know the extent of Striegel's offense.
Steven Wilder Striegel performed in a scene opposite Olivia Munn in The Predator, where he continually hits on her. The actor was also cast in Shane Black's Iron Man 3 in 2013 as well as The Nice Guys in 2016. Munn was the one to first alert 20th Century Fox to the situation and they made the swift decision to cut Striegel's part from the movie. Now, Black says that he was misled by Striegel. He had this to say.
"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."
Steven Striegel was convicted of two felonies in 2010 after it was alleged that he had started a sexual relationship with a 14-year old girl online. Striegel maintains that they never had a physical relationship, but there were warrants for his arrest for touching the girl in an inappropriate manner. However, he was never charged for the physical aspect of the case and spent 6 months in jail. According to Shane Black, he was unaware of any of that information. He explains.
"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."
As for the studio, 20th Century Fox states that they did not know about Steven Striegel's past at all when Shane Black brought him on for The Predator. In California, there is no law that prohibits sexual offenders from getting work. While Black claims he was misled about the details of Striegel's sexual offense, the actor maintains that Black actually knew everything. Striegel says this.
"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. 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."
The Predator is all set to open in theaters on September 14th, and until now, it has had a steady flow of great press. It is unclear at this time if this controversy will have any effect on the box office performance, but there are more than a few people who are upset with Shane Black's decision. With that being said, there are others who believe that Steven Striegel deserved a second chance. Black's apology was first reported by Variety.