‘The Predator’: Olivia Munn “Dismayed” by Co-Stars’ Silence Over Sex Offender Controversy
X-Men: Apocalypse star Olivia Munn’s newest blockbuster is marred by controversy brought on by writer-director Shane Black’s casting of a registered sex offender, and a lack of support from her co-stars in raising the issue has left Munn “surprised” and feeling like she’s “the one going to jail.”
Munn, who shared a scene with registered sex offender Steven Wilder Striegel in a since-deleted scene in The Predator, alerted studio 20th Century Fox of Striegel’s history after learning the bit actor was charged with and plead guilty to allegations he “attempted to lure a 14-year-old female into a sexual relationship via the internet,” per the Los Angeles Times, who were the first to report the story.
Now, Munn says she has yet to hear from Black, Fox, or her co-stars since exposing Striegel, who played a jogger that repeatedly hit on Munn’s character. The actress took issue with co-stars Keegan-Michael Key, Trevante Rhodes, and Boyd Holbrook giving Black a standing ovation following the film’s premiere Thursday night.
“I looked back and I see the guys standing up, and I was just confused, because I hadn’t heard from them during the day. Everybody else was sitting down — it wasn’t like this massive standing ovation for him,” Munn told Vanity Fair.
“I felt it was still appropriate to clap and cheer, but to actually make that gesture to stand up, especially in this moment… and privately I knew that no one reached out to me to say, ‘Are you O.K.?’ It did feel bad.”
Vanity Fair adds “many” of Munn’s co-stars backed out of scheduled interviews where they were to appear with Munn; one co-star, unnamed by the actress, reportedly walked out of an interview when asked about the deleted scene. She privately encouraged her co-stars to make their own comments to the Times — but Munn emerged as the sole whistleblower.
“I wanted them to not be blindsided the way I was blindsided, and I encouraged them to put out a statement once the L.A. Times reached out to us,“ Munn said. “I was surprised that none of them did. Again that’s their prerogative. Right now the reality is that there will be people who wear Time’s Up pins and say they support Time’s Up, [but] there will be people in Time’s Up who aren’t really down with the cause.”
Appearing at the Toronto Film Festival alongside Munn and Augusto Aguilera, Rhodes said he “wasn’t disappointed in Shane,” but was “disappointed in the situation, and I’m happy that Liv spoke up.”
Fox, who previously said in a statement they were “not aware” of Striegel’s criminal history because of “legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors,” noted they removed his scene from the film within 24 hours of being alerted by Munn.
The situation has left Munn feeling “like I’m the one going to jail,” she said.
“I didn’t go to jail, I didn’t put this guy on our set. I had this scene deleted. Thank God, honestly, that there is social media. It’s the fans and news outlets that’s confirming it to me that what I did was the right thing. If I didn’t have that feedback, I’d kind of go a little crazy thinking, Why am I being treated like this? That’s not O.K., to feel like the bad guy.”
Munn doesn’t regret making her stand, but said the move left her feeling persecuted and isolated.
“Getting a convicted sex offender out of a movie that has global reach is extremely important, but the reality of what I’ve had to go through in this process of just finding out, it’s a crazy thing,“ she said. “It’s like I stumbled upon something and now I’m being chased by everyone and isolated.”
Black came under fire on social media both for casting Striegel — who also appeared in Black’s Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys — and for his initial comments made to the Times, where he said of hiring Striegel, “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.”
The director later issued a new comment on his friend of fourteen years, saying he 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,” Black said. “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.”
The Predator opens September 14.