Angelina Jolie may be one of the world’s most celebrated humanitarians, but the actress and UN Special Envoy has just come under fire over the treatment of impoverished children during the audition process for her new movie, First They Killed My Father.
In a new profile on the star published July 26, Vanity Fair magazine details how Angelina Jolie’s casting directors played with children from “orphanages, circuses, and slum schools” while searching for an actor to play the role of Loung Ung, the author of the memoir on which the is film based.
“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,” Vanity Fair writer, Evgenia Peretz, said. “The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie.”
The mother-of-six has vehemently refuted the piece, releasing a statement to the Huffington Post. “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,” she penned. “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 actress added that “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.”
The Huffington Post also reported that the kids who auditioned were aware they were improvising a scene from a film, and that no real money was involved.
The actress recently shared a behind-the-scenes clip, which explained her deep connection to Cambodia — it is the birthplace of her son, Maddox, whom she adopted in 2002.
“I’m doing this for [Ung], for her family, for Cambodia, and very much also for Maddox — so he learns about who he is and becomes that much more connected to his country.”
And the 15-year-old is exceptionally proud of his mom's film. "Thank you everyone for attending tonight, "he said at the premiere. "We finally made it. It's a great honor to present this film to all of you and to stand by my mother and my family."
During the film’s premiere, Angelina opened up about her personal connection to the movie and to Cambodia: "I cannot find words to express what it means to me that I was entrusted with telling part of the story of this country,” she told the audience.
“This film was not made to focus on the horrors of the past but to celebrate the resilience, kindness, and talent of the Cambodian people. Most of all, this film is my way of saying thank you to Cambodia,” she said. “Without Cambodia, I may never have become a mother. Part of my heart is and will always be in this country. And part of this country is always with me: Maddox.”
Both Maddox and Pax helped work on the film, and Angelina previously told U.K.'s The Guardian about how seriously Cambodian-born Maddox took the work.
"He was the one who just called it and said he was ready and that he wanted to work on it, which he did. He read the script, helped with notes, and was in the production meetings," she said.
This post was written by Chloe Lal. For more, check out our sister site Now To Love.