Last week, The Los Angeles Times broke the news that 20th Century Fox had cut a scene from the upcoming movie The Predator after Olivia Munn informed them that it featured a registered sex offender. Munn had learned that Steven Wilder Striegel, a friend of director Shane Black who shared a brief scene with her in the film, plead guilty to attempting to lure a 14-year-old girl into a sexual relationship in 2010.
Once Munn's actions had been made public, she received a wave of online support. However, that hasn't necessarily been the case at the Toronto Film Festival, where the actress is doing press for the movie. She described feeling isolated during the process, and appeared alone for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after several of her male cast members allegedly backed out. She revealed that she did not receive a personal apology from Black for putting her and the rest of the cast in an unsafe situation, and has issues with the aftermath of the report. Let's break exactly what happened.
First, who is Steven Wilder Striegel and what was he specifically convicted of?
Striegel is an actor and close friend of Black's who plead guilty to risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer and served six months in jail in 2010. Following Striegel's time in jail, Black, who had been friends with Striegel for five years before his conviction and was aware of what happened, cast him in movies like Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys.
Has his victim come forward?
Yes. On September 13, days into the controversy, the woman at the center, 24-year-old Paige Carnes of it all came forward.
"My purpose in making this statement is to reclaim my identity," Carnes said in a statement to the L.A. Times. "I was not able to speak for myself when I was 14. The consequences of this abuse are profound and permanent for some."
Carnes also thanked Munn for her efforts.
Wait — what did Olivia Munn do?
After Munn learned of Striegel's conviction, she informed the studio on August 15th. She also alerted her co-stars and urged them to make their own public statements, but they reportedly declined.
“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 told Vanity Fair. “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.”
What did Fox do?
"When I called, (Fox) was silent for two days," Munn told Variety at the Toronto Film Festival. "I did have to reach out again and say I didn’t feel comfortable presenting at the MTV Awards with Keegan (Michael Key) unless this guy was out of it."
However, they did then cut his scene from the film, and gave this statement to The Times:
"Our studio was not aware of Mr. Striegel’s background when he was hired. We were not aware of his background during the casting process due to legal limitations that impede studios from running background checks on actors."
What did Black say?
In his initial statement to The Times, Black characterized his decision to cast Striegel as helping a friend.
"I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly," he said, adding that he believed Striegel was "caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous."
"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."
"I appreciate the apology," she said. "I would have appreciated it more if it was directed toward me privately before it went public and I had to see it online with everyone else."
Following Munn's claims that she had not heard from the director, Black spoke to Entertainment Tonight and said he reached out privately.
"I felt that I owed her that call, that apology and I’m very sorry for any pain that she’s felt, but I reached out privately," he told the outlet, later admitting, "If I caused pain, it’s on me. It’s my fault. I made a decision, which was a very bad — look, it’s not about the fact that I was as shocked to discover what’s going on at reading these horrible things in the paper. That’s still on me. I’m the captain to the ship, and I’m not allowed to make choices for people. I’m not allowed to just treat this like we’re kids in college and putting friends in movies because this is big leagues, and I felt like I had let people down and caused pain to the cast and that is not acceptable."*
So what happened at TIFF?
"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. 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."
In joint interviews with Munn, co-stars Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, and Augusto Aguilera were asked about the controversy.
"I wasn’t disappointed in Shane," Rhodes said at The Times’ TIFF studio. "I was disappointed in the situation, and I’m happy that Liv spoke up."
"I thought about the possibility of this continuing to happen, and where it happens — and also to Liv, for speaking up on such a subject, because it takes a lot of courage to be able to say that," Aguilera said.
"There's an appropriate reaction to take, you take it," Key told Variety. "The issue is people will go 'Oh well I'm not — it's this or it's that or it's complicated,' but in this particular case it's...we're afraid to say things are black and white because of a fear-based decision. I think it's important somebody make some kind of decision."
"It's an obvious, no-brainer choice," Boyd Holbrook added. "The studio made the right decision."
However, Munn later appeared alone in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after some of her male co-stars backed out.
"It’s a very lonely feeling to be sitting here by myself when I should be sitting here with the rest of the cast," she said.
.@OliviaMunn: "It's not an easy thing to be the one to speak up. There are people who get mad at you for not helping them bury it ... I'm sitting here by myself when I should be with the rest of the cast" https://t.co/vBnjnVz9cA pic.twitter.com/jP3qReJh64— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 8, 2018
In a statement to Refinery29, Key's rep said "Keegan was never booked to do an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. His last interview was scheduled after lunch, which he completed. He was always departing TIFF early so he could be home to spend the Jewish holiday with his wife. Furthermore, Keegan reached out to Olivia privately last week to let her know how proud he was of her and echoed that sentiment in many interviews since then."
Holdbrook addressed Munn's feelings of isolation in a later statement sent to Refinery29 by his rep.*
"I want to start by apologizing for this statement coming late in the current conversation," he said. "I do not take any of what has gone on lightly, and I want to speak from the most honest and genuine place possible. I have stated before, and I will state it again, I am proud of Olivia for the way that she handled a difficult and alarming situation, and I am grateful that Fox took the information seriously and took action swiftly. It is true that I pulled out of a small amount of press on Saturday, as this type of social commentary is new to me and given the nature of the originating crime, I felt further discussion could cause unwanted trauma and pain, neither of which I wanted to incite to the anonymous young woman. I now realize that my understanding of the situation was not the full picture and the last thing I want is for Olivia to ever feel abandoned or alone. We are in the midst of a very crucial and important time and it is imperative that we keep listening."
Sterling K. Brown, another co-star who was not at TIFF, took to Twitter following her Hollywood Reporter interview to express his support and apologize for the fact that she has been the "only one to speak up publicly."
.@oliviamunn I’m sorry you’re feeling so isolated, my dear. And I’m sorry you’ve been the only one to speak up publicly. I was not at #TIFF so I didn’t have an opportunity to be there with you. There are two main issues as far as I see it. First, what is and is not forgivable?... https://t.co/NQQpoO9kPa— Sterling K Brown (@SterlingKBrown) September 9, 2018
"What I take issue with, (& I believe Shane addressed this in his apology), is that we all have the right to know who we’re working with! And when someone has been convicted of a crime of a sexual nature involving a child, we have the right to say that’s not okay!" he wrote on Twitter. "Our studio was not given that opportunity, and neither was our cast. Especially @oliviamunn who was the only member of the principal cast who had to work with him. I so appreciate that you 'didn’t leave well enough alone,' & again, I’m sorry you feel isolated in taking action."
Reps for Munn, Rhodes, and Black did not immediately respond to Refinery29's request for comment.
*This story was originally published on September 10 at 12:30 p.m., additional reporting was added.