On Thursday, news broke that Twentieth Century Fox had cut a scene from Shane Black’s upcoming film The Predator after being informed that one of the actors it featured, Steven Wilder Striegel, was a registered sex offender who’d served six months in prison after pleading guilty to sending sexually charged emails to a 14-year-old girl. Striegel’s past was brought to the studio’s attention by actress Olivia Munn, who appeared with him in the scene and objected to not being told about his past before working with him. In a statement, Fox said it was unaware of his record until Munn brought it to their attention. But director and screenwriter Shane Black, a longtime friend of Striegel who also cast him in Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, knew about Striegel’s legal problems and said nothing to the cast, which Munn said she found “surprising and unsettling.” The scene was cut within 24 hours of Munn speaking to Fox, Black apologized (and backed out of the film’s Toronto International Film Festival screening), and The Predator headed towards its Sept. 14 release with a potential public relations disaster more or less managed. And although Munn seemed to have gotten some pushback after blowing the whistle, cutting the scene was enough for her to feel like the situation had been resolved:
Then Munn’s co-stars bailed on scheduled interviews with the Hollywood Reporter Saturday (except Jacob Tremblay, who is 11 years old), leaving her to talk about the situation all by herself. “It’s a very lonely feeling to be sitting here by myself when I should be here with the rest of the cast,” Munn said, in response to a question premised on the idea that her co-workers were being supportive. In fact, as she made clear, director Shane Black hadn’t spoken to her personally about the situation, and other people have been snubbing her:
I haven’t heard from Shane. I did see his apology that he put out. I appreciate the apology. 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. It’s honestly disheartening to have to fight for something so hard that is just so obvious to me. I don’t know why this has to be such a hard fight. I do feel like I’ve been treated by some people that I’m the one who went to jail, or I’m the one that put this guy on set. I found out, and I was really important to me to have the scene deleted. And when the press found out, they asked for a statement, I gave a statement. I found out those details like everybody else did. It was shocking and disturbing. Now when I’m being asked about it, I don’t know how to lie about it. I don’t know how to pretend, I don’t know how to skirt around the issue. I just know how to be honest about it.
In a separate interview with Vanity Fair, Munn said one of her co-stars went so far as to walk out of an interview when the topic came up. The video of her Hollywood Reporter interview, which is a remarkable example of someone speaking eloquently and gracefully under pressure, is worth watching in full:
Again and again over the course of the interview, Munn rejects the premise of a question she is asked, replying with a much grimmer assessment of the situation. You see it above in the question about the support she’s getting from her co-workers, and again when she’s asked a question premised on the idea that the entertainment industry might be ready for top-down change:
The people who are at the top, the people colluding to keep abusers in power, the people who are colluding to turn a blind eye so that they can keep making money, they are the people who created this disparity in the first place. We can’t really depend on them to make a change. … If the fans and public keep expressing that they won’t go support who are abusers or organizations or companies that support that, then that will make them change.
Ultimately, Munn’s objection to Striegel’s appearance in the film had less to do with his past than with the fact that she wasn’t given the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether or not to work with him:
If someone wants to share their platform and their power with someone who went to prison for hurting a child, once they’ve gotten out of prison, they’ve served their time, they are allowed to be back out in society, that’s their choice if they want to help that person. I wasn’t given that choice; that decision was made for me. My choice will always be to never give a second chance to anyone who hurts a child or an animal.
Munn’s co-stars in the film include Sterling K. Brown, Boyd Holbrook, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, and Trevante Rhodes.
Update, Sept. 9: Sterling K. Brown, who was not at TIFF, and thus presumably not one of the people who backed out of the scheduled interview with the Hollywood Reporter, reached out to Munn on Twitter with a statement:
Update, Sept. 9: Keegan-Michael Key’s publicist reached out with the following statement:
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.