Director Shane Black says he is “deeply sorry” for his “stupid” decision to hire his longtime friend and registered sex offender to play a role in his upcoming action thriller The Predator.
“I made an error, a judgment that was irresponsible,” Black told the AP at the film’s premiere. “You know, I’m not just a kid who can say we’re making movies in college, put your buddy in the movie.”
Black’s comments come a week after Twentieth Century Fox deleted a scene after it emerged that cast member Steven Wilder Striegel was a registered sex offender who had pursued a 14-year-old female relative. He has since contended that he was trying to offer a friend a second chance, but was unaware of the severity of Striegel’s crime.
“This is an adult decision with real responsibilities, and I didn’t vet somebody,” Black continued. “And it doesn’t matter that I was shocked at these emails, or that he misrepresented my friends. It doesn’t matter, I was captain of that ship, it’s my job to make sure those things don’t happen.”
“And I failed, I did cause pain to people in the cast, that’s unacceptable, I take full responsibility,” the director added. “I am very deeply sorry… because it really bothers me that this movie that could have been these beautiful people on a beautiful night but for only this, has been overshadowed in some ways by a stupid decision I made.”
Actress Olivia Munn, who blew the whistle on Striegel’s sex crimes history and advocated for the scene’s removal, has since claimed that individuals at Fox studios “chastised” her decision not to “keep it quiet.”
“When I found that out, I did call Fox,” Munn said in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres. “And I said, ‘we have to delete the scene. I got chastised the next day by people in the studio for telling them, and why am I not just keeping it quiet.”
“The people who collude to keep people like this in positions of power, that’s the real problem,” Munn continued. “The people who keep turning blind eyes.”
The Predator opens in theaters nationwide September 14th.