A scene featuring actor Steven Wilder Striegel has been pulled from the Twentieth Century Fox film “The Predator” after it emerged that he’s a registered sex offender, it was reported Thursday.
Striegel, 47, didn’ have a big role in his longtime friend Shane Black’ reboot of the sci-fi thriller — just a three-page scene shared with actress Olivia Munn, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But last month, Munn learned that Striegel is a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty in 2010 after facing allegations that he attempted to lure a 14-year-old female into a sexual relationship via the internet. When Munn shared the information with Fox on Aug. 15, studio executives quickly decided to excise him from the movie, according to The Times.
“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.”
Black, however, has always known, according to The Times. Striegel, who appeared on “Days of Our Lives” and “Melrose Place,” first met Black when he was invited to the “Lethal Weapon” screenwriter’s home by a mutual friend for pizza and a movie. When Wilder was arrested in 2009, the two had been friends for five years.
Striegel served six months in jail after pleading guilty to two felonies — risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer, The Times reported. The first role he landed after his release was in Black’s 2013 film, “Iron Man 3.” Three years later, he got another part in one of the filmmaker’s projects, the crime caper “The Nice Guys.” In 2016, Black told GQ that he was planning to produce a heist film “by my friend Steve Wilder.”
Black at first defended his decision to cast Striegel in a small part in “The Predator” as a jogger who repeatedly hits on Munn’s character.
“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.”
But he said he has long believed that Striegel was “caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous,” The Times reported.
Later Thursday, however, Black released the following statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter: “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,” the statement continued. “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.”