Striegel is a friend of Black's who appeared in a brief scene in the new science fiction movie. But, as the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday, the scene with Munn was cut after she learned about Striegel's past. Munn told Fox what she discovered on Aug. 15, and the studio quickly deleted the scene.
"Our studio was not aware of Mr. Striegel's background when he was hired," a Fox spokesperson told 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."
However, Black was aware of Striegel's arrest. The two had been close friends for years before he was arrested in 2009 for trying to seduce a 14-year-old girl online. In 2010, he pleaded guilty and served six months in jail. Although he was put on the sex offender registry, his acting career resumed. He went on to appear in Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, both directed by Black.
"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," the filmmaker said. "I believe strongly in giving people second chances... but sometimes you discover that chance is not as warranted as you may have hoped."
Munn also sent a written statement to the Times, saying it was "surprising and unsettling" that Black did not share information about Striegel's past with the cast and crew. She later praised Fox for moving quickly and cutting the scene.
News of the cut scene came just one day before the film's premiere Friday during the Toronto International Film Festival. In Toronto, Munn's co-stars Travante Rhodes and Augusto Aguilera praised Munn for speaking up. However, Black skipped a post-screening Q&A.
"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 told the Times.
In a solo interview with Variety, Munn said Fox did not respond to her calls about Striegel for two days. She reached out again before the MTV Movie Awards, where she and co-star Keegan Michael-Key were presenting and promoting the film.
"I'm not saying they weren't working on it behind the scenes," Munn said of the studio. "I just didn't hear anything about it. But I'm happy that they did obviously because I'm proud of the work we did in this movie, we all worked really, really hard, and I wouldn't be able to morally stand behind this movie with this guy in there."
Munn said she felt it was important to speak up because The Predator was made for a global audience and she understood how even one person with a small amount of screentime could tarnish an entire production.
"When you have somebody on a big screen, no matter how small – we've all done little parts in movies – that little grain of fame is just enough to reach out and influence somebody who is impressionable and if you have somebody that has a history of using that to abuse children, that's not OK in my book," Munn explained.
"And I do believe people deserve second chances, but I do have a hard line when it comes to people who hurt children or animals. You deserve to go make money, but not alongside me in a film. You can go work in a lot of other places or like make an Etsy store or something."
As for Black's apology, Munn said she does "believe" it, but was not happy Black did not privately apologize to her and the cast.0comments
The Predator hits theaters on Sept. 13.
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox