At last night’s LA premiere of his new film, The Predator, director Shane Black finally spoke in public about the ongoing controversy concerning his decision to cast his one-time friend, Steven Wilder Striegel (a convicted sex offender), in the movie without informing the cast or studio.
It wasn’t until actress Olivia Munn, who had a scene with Wilder in the film, informed Fox executives about Wilder’s past—he’d pled guilty to two felonies, risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer—that the scene was cut from the film. In the days since the news broke, Black has defended his decision to cast the actor in the film, claiming that his friend was merely “caught up in a bad situation.” Black later released another statement, insisting that Wilder had “misled” him about the specific details about his conviction.
In response to Black’s apology, Munn spoke to Variety and described how Fox didn’t actually return her call when she first brought Wilder’s history to the studio’s attention—there were two days of silence—and that she had to follow up with them. Munn also made a point of stating that Black has not spoken with her directly:
I think an apology has to happen privately not just publicly, and I believe in his apology he said he apologized to people past and present that he’s put in that situation, and I believe that would be me, but I didn’t get that apology, I had to read about it online with everyone else.
While all of this has been playing out, Munn has been the target of criticism and harassment for choosing to speak up while her co-stars have taken their time to do the same. What’s more, while Munn and her fellow cast members have been on The Predator press circuit speaking about the film and the surrounding controversy, Black himself was “absent” from the press opportunities at the Toronto Film Festival.
Now, though, Black says that he regrets his past choices. Speaking to the Associated Press at The Predator premiere in LA, the director acknowledged that ultimately, Wilder’s casting was a result of his actions:
I made an error in judgment that’s irresponsible—I’m not just a kid who can say, you know, we’re making movies in college, put your buddy in the movie. This is an adult decision with real responsibilities and I didn’t vet somebody. And it doesn’t matter that I was shocked at these emails or that he misrepresented my friends and I, oh my god, doesn’t matter. I was the captain of that ship, it’s my job to make sure that those things don’t happen, you see. And I failed. And I may have caused...I did cause pain to people in the cast. That’s unacceptable. I take full responsibility. I’m very deeply sorry. I mean, I think about this a lot. I hope I learn from this because it really bothers me that this movie which could have been this beautiful people, and this beautiful night with only this has been overshadowed in some ways by a stupid decision that I made. I’m very sorry to anybody.
And today, Paige Carnes, the woman (now 24 years old) involved in the case Wilder pled guilty to when she was 14 years old, revealed her identity in a powerful statement published in the Los Angeles Times about her abuse and how important Munn’s decision to take a stand was:
Support can come in many forms. Sometimes all it takes is one person speaking up for you, acknowledging your worth as a human being. I am extremely fortunate to have a Father and Mother that love me unconditionally. My Father has supported me in my healing and growth in ways I cannot thank him enough for.
I am also eternally grateful for Olivia Munn’s action. She spoke up for me. She took a stance for me. In turn she stood for all who have suffered like I have. To be acknowledged by a stranger, on a public platform about this issue is incredibly empowering. The positive feedback from social media towards Olivia Munn is uplifting and feels incredibly supportive for me personally.
I have no shame for what was done to me. I am not the one who needs to carry that shame. My name is Paige Carnes, former Jane Doe.
I hope anyone who has suffered like I have regains their voice and their humanity.
The Predator opens tomorrow.