TV & FILM
brian-mcgee - September 6, 2018
I get the notion of Shane Black wanting to help out a troubled friend in this industry. Robert Downey, Jr. wouldn't be Iron Man right now had guys like Black and Mel Gibson put their reputations on the line to get him work once he got clean. That all happened in the days before social media. If a similar comeback was staged in the social media era, Downey Jr.'s attempted comeback would be shamed out of existence.
I understand why Black would want to try working similar magic with another beleaguered friend—albeit one with a much lower profile—in this day and age. The deck is stacked against such a decision, but he made it anyway, and now it's come back to bite him on the ass.
Shane Black cast a friend of his named Steven Wilder Striegel in a small role as a catcalling admirer of Olivia Munn in The Predator. According to the Los Angeles Times, Black knew his friend Striegel was a registered sex offender thanks to a run-in with a fourteen year old several years back, and cast him anyway in a role with rather lascivious undertones.
Black defended his decision to cast Striegel in a small part in “The Predator” as a jogger who repeatedly hits on Munn’s character.
“I personally chose to help a friend,” Black said in a written statement to The Times. “I can understand others might disapprove, as his conviction was on a sensitive charge and not to be taken lightly.”
But he said he has long believed that Striegel was “caught up in a bad situation versus something lecherous.”
The studio, acting on behalf of Munn's request, demanded that Black remove the scene before delivering his cut of the film.
Now, I get that Black is trying to help out a friend here, but this guy's story sounds like bad news. What's worse is that Black has been throwing him small roles in all of his recent films including Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys.
Striegel served six months in jail after pleading guilty to two felonies — risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer. The first role he landed after his release was in Black’s 2013 film, “Iron Man 3.” Three years later, he got another part in one of the filmmaker’s projects, the crime caper “The Nice Guys.” In 2016, Black told GQ that he was planning to produce a heist film “by my friend Steve Wilder.”
I'm not saying that people don't deserve a second chance, but cast him as a dude who gets killed by the Predator. Don't cast the registered sex offender as a jogger with a hard-on for Olivia Munn. It's weird, and it makes you look bad.
It's also not going to dissuade me from watching this movie. I'm pumped for this one. The Predator opens one week from tonight.