'The Predator' Cast, Shane Black Support Olivia Munn After Film Controversy
Olivia Munn is feeling a little less isolated.
After going public with her successful request that 21st Century Fox remove a scene in her latest film The Predator in which she unknowingly appeared opposite a registered sex offender, Munn had spoken out about the lack of personal support she received from her co-stars and filmmaker Shane Black (most of whom bowed out of press opportunities at the Toronto International Film Festival following Munn's revelation).
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At the film's Los Angeles premiere at the Egyptian Theater on Wednesday, however, Munn — who, along with the film's other principals gamely engaged with a small array of red carpet reporters — told The Hollywood Reporter she was feeling more encouraged, thanks mainly to the substantial degree of public support she received but also from the empathetic, if late-to-the-game in some cases, outreach from her colleagues.
"I've been so blown away by the response from social media, fans, news, blogs," Munn told THR. "When something like this happens, it can oftentimes be polarizing, but it's been so amazing to see that there are a lot of sane people out there that are all expressing the same kind of outrage and understanding, and that support. My voice is just one voice, but because of everyone else coming around it, it helped to broaden the conversation, make it louder."
Munn had called for the removal of her scene opposite actor Steven Wilder Striegel, a longtime friend of Black's who was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail in 2010 for sexually enticing a minor female (his cousin) via online and personal exchanges. When learning of Streigel's background, Munn made her request and the studio consented, cutting the scene from the final edit.
The actress said the online support "has honestly been the thing that has kind of woken people up. … Normally you're thinking at home, 'Why isn't anybody saying this? Doesn't anybody feel the same way?' That's what made me feel not alone anymore."
She's also relieved that the cast ultimately rallied around her position. "I'm grateful my co-stars have spoken out," she said. "I've spoken to a few of them privately, and they do understand the situation and have expressed their regret for how it went down. And I think they understand now. But it's a tough situation."
Tough enough that when asked if she was satisfied with where Black ultimately landed on the situation — the writer-director initially said he was merely trying to support a friend, then revised his take when he reportedly learned the charges against Streigel were far more serious and disturbing than had been represented to him — she paused long and hard before offering a measured answer.
"I've gotta still have my conversation with him," she said. "I need to have a full conversation, and then there are things that I might still say that I feel he should hear first, before I just say them."
Black also expressed concern about repairing any residual rift with Munn, hoping to privately initiate reconciliation. "I have reached out to Olivia, but since I reached out to her privately and it's between us, I knew I owed her some kind of apology," Black told THR. "I hope you can understand that I would prefer to keep that communication between her and myself private, as it was when I reached out."
In any case, the filmmaker wanted to take responsibility for creating a situation that felt unsafe for his cast and crew. "I'm deeply sorry, I really am, for any pain I've caused," he said. "I'm the captain of the ship, right? So it doesn't matter that this guy who I put in the movie is a friend of mine. He was not forthright. He was not honest with me. That doesn't matter, because I'm not allowed to make a decision based on what I think. I had a guy with a criminal past — that's sensitive, to say the least, and I put him in the movie, and I didn't tell the cast and the crew. That's on me. I take full responsibility. That's irresponsible, and I shouldn't have done it."
Black said he was supportive of the decision to edit Striegel's sole scene out of the film. "We cut the scene from the movie instantly — honestly, great. I'm so glad we did. But I want to share with everyone that I have made a very irresponsible decision on this movie. It's not malicious, but it doesn't matter. I didn't have that right."
Sterling K. Brown was the first to issue a public statement of support for Munn via Instagram once he'd learned of the situation, and he told THR he was satisfied with the resolution.
"I'm really happy that she said something," said the This Is Us star. "I'm really happy that a guy who tried to hook up with his 14-year-old cousin was not in our film, because a lot of people put a lot of work into it, and I don't think he should be reaping the benefits of our hard work."
Brown went further, suggesting that perhaps the existing law that prevents employers from asking about past sex-offense convictions should be revised. "I was surprised to know you're legally not allowed to ask if someone is a registered sex offender, and I'm like, 'Why not?'" he said. "You deserve to know who you're sharing space with, especially if they've been convicted of a crime of this nature."
Brown said he also hopes the Predator situation results in greater scrutiny throughout the industry to avoid similar scenarios. "It's a rare situation in which I have to consider my safety on set," he said. "I'm a fairly strong dude who can take care of himself, and I've never felt like, 'Oh, wow – what must it be like to be threatened?' I've been the subject of hate. I've been called a lot of names that I didn't appreciate and whatnot, but to feel unsafe is something that I really had to put myself in the shoes of my female co-stars and say, 'No, man.' I would have been horrified, absolutely horrified. So I'm glad she said something."
Munn's other co-stars offered a unanimous chorus of support for her as well. "Olivia and I, we talked about this before everyone else knew about it," said the film's lead, Boyd Holbrook. "We have kept talking about it when everyone else knew about it. We've continued to keep talking about it after everyone else knew about it. Everyone did the right thing, and I think you'd be crazier than a box of squirrels to want a sexual offender in your film. That would be disastrous. I think we all just need to look each other in the eye and say, 'Yes, of course. Thank God this didn't happen.'"
Holbrook also said he regrets that there was any question as to whether the other actors were in Munn's corner when the news broke. "We had her back from the get-go," Holbrook said. "When you get involved in a media frenzy, things can get a little unclear, and I think that was the only hiccup in any communication."
"We've been in contact, and I wanted to let her know that I still support her," said co-star Keegan-Michael Key. "I'm super, super, super proud of her. I want her to know that I love her and that I'm really also very happy and refreshed to see Fox take the appropriate action."
"Twenty-first Century Fox did what they had to do, and I support them in their decision," added Thomas Jane. "It's an interesting world today, and we all have to choose our battles, and we all have to decide what's important to us. And, I suppose, we bestow respect on people who wish to make people aware of things, and as this kind of stuff comes up, we react the best way we can; 21st Century Fox did a good job.”
Co-star Augusto Aguilera suggested that in the bigger picture, Munn's concerns will continue to reverberate. "I don't think that things have been resolved – I think that this is the beginning of a conversation," he offered. "What Olivia's doing is starting a conversation. So Fox resolved the immediate situation, but it was because Olivia brought that to light. And in bringing that to light, they were able to shut it down within 48 hours. Now, the issue really is to continue that kind of conversation, to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Aguilera also revealed that while he was aware of Munn's issue before it went public, he believes he did not make his support clear enough to her. "I made the mistake of thinking from my perspective, in the sense that I felt I had been reaching out enough to Olivia instead of listening to her perspective, which was that she felt like she wasn't getting listened to. So I did reach out afterward to make sure that I was always here for her if she needed someone to talk to."
Munn also made it clear that the Striegel situation had not lessened any of her joy in making the film.
"The thing about this movie is that it's action-packed, filled with a lot of comedy, a lot of fun, and a group of actors who really love working together, and we tried to create a movie that fans would just really love, and I believe that that's what we did," she said.
"There was a scene in the movie that would have made it hard for me to promote it, for me to enjoy it, or for me to feel like it was morally right to have that in the world," she continued. "It's no longer in the movie, so I feel that this movie is something that is extremely fun and entertaining to watch, and I hope everybody wants to see it and does go see it. My mom and all my close friends — they're all going to see it, and I'm excited."
by Sheraz Farooqi
by Graeme McMillan