Fox announced today that it has cut a small scene from Shane Black’s upcoming film The Predator, after star Olivia Munn informed the studio that the actor who appeared with her in the scene was a registered sex offender. The man in question is Steven Wilder Striegel (typically credited as Steve Wilder), who pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges of risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer after attempting to manipulate a 14-year-old girl into a sexual relationship. Striegel is also, as it happens, a long-time friend of Black’s, which is presumably why the director included him in bit parts in his last two movies (Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys), both of which came after his six month jail sentence on the charges.
Black has now publicly apologized for casting Striegel in his films, stating that, at the time, he believed that he was giving a second chance to a friend who had become wrapped up in a bad situation. But although he issued a semi-defensive comment to The L.A. Times before it ran a story about Striegel’s removal from the film—writing “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 revisited his comments after the Times published details and quotes from Striegel’s exchanges with the 14-year-old, recanting his support for him and issuing apologies to all involved:
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.
Fox reportedly cut the scene—in which Striegel plays a jogger who harasses Munn’s character—back in August, less than a day after the actress brought his background to its attention. The studio has said that it was completely unaware of the actor’s history when it okayed Black’s casting of him.