Angelina Jolie’s controversial exercise of auditioning children was reportedly taken out of context, the actress claims.
Jolie called it “false and upsetting” that people understood a description of the casting process as an actual psychological game played with potential child actors.
Vanity Fair reported that Jolie scoured orphanages, circuses and slum schools to find children to act in her Cambodia-set film “First They Killed My Father” and performed an exercise to find children who were subject to extreme hardship.
“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 article stated.
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“The director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie.”
The piece went on to explain that Srey Moch, the child ultimately cast, became flooded with emotion in the scenario and revealed she had imagined using the money to pay for a nice funeral for her grandfather.
Jolie’s casting exercise instantly received backlash as readers called it “cruel,” “sickening” and “monstrous.”
The 42-year-old actress quickly refuted the interpretation, declaring that all the children were aware it was an improvisation act for a role in a movie and real money was not used.
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“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,” she told The Huffington Post in a statement.
“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 continued. “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.”
Jolie, a United Nations special envoy for refugees, said the “pretend game” had to do with a scene featured in the film, which was based on a real-life scenario that happened to Loung Ung — the author of the memoir on which the film is based — who was caught stealing by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the late 1970s.
“First They Killed My Father” was directed by Jolie and will be released on Netflix later this year.
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