Angelina Jolie responds to criticism over ‘exploitative’ audition process for young children in new film
Angelina Jolie has denied that she set up a controversial casting process for her upcming movie First They Killed My Father.
According to the excerpt in Vanity Fair, the Hollywood actress and her casting associates placed money on a table and allowed the children auditioning for the Cambodian film to take it.
However, after taking the money, the director then “caught” the kids, and forced them to explain why they needed the cash. Srey Moch was ultimately chosen for the part.
“Moch was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,” the actress is quoted as saying. “When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back. When she was asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.”
She now says that the process described in the profile was misconstrued, and was “a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film.”
In a statement to Variety on Sunday, Angelina noted that she was “upset” by the allegations.
“The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting,” she wrote. “I would be outraged myself if this had happened.”
First They Killed My Father is based on the 2000 book by Loung Ung. The story is a personal retelling of Ung’s survival of the Pol Pot regime. The film will be released on Netflix in September.
The full statement from Angelina read: “Every measure was taken to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present. Parents, guardians, partner NGOs whose job it is to care for children, and medical doctors were always on hand everyday, to ensure everyone had all they needed. And above all to make sure that no one was in any way hurt by participating in the recreation of such a painful part of their country’s history.
“I am upset that a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film, has been written about as if it was a real scenario. The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened.
“The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war, and to help fight to protect them.”
The initial Vanity Fair piece said about the the exercise audition claimed: “In order to find their lead, to play young Loung Ung, the casting directors set up a game, rather disturbing in its realism: they put money on the table and asked the child to think of something she needed the money for, and then to snatch it away. The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie.”