Poor Angelina Jolie. The 42-year-old actress is defending the casting process for children starring in her latest movie, First They Killed My Father, today after she received backlash for allegedly having the kids play an "exploitative" game in order to appear in the film.
During a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Angelina candidly opened up about directing the upcoming Netflix flick based on Loung Ung's emotional memoir, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. Ung's book chronicles her memories of growing up under the Khmer Rouge regime's genocide during the 1970s. According to VF, the film's casting directors asked a group of potential child stars — from local orphanages, circuses, and slum schools — to play a game during their auditions during which money was put on a table and each child had to think about why they needed the money before choosing to take it.
Angelina with the film's star Srey Moch. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
If one of the kids did decide to take the money, one of the directors pretended to catch the child and the aspiring actor had to present a creative lie as to why they had stolen the cash. The game was allegedly pretend, and inspired by one of Ung's real-life childhood experiences. "Srey Moch, [the girl ultimately chosen for the part], was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time," Angelina told VF.
"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," the mom-of-six continued. Days after the article was published, Angelina reportedly began receiving intense backlash over her quotes about the movie's casting process.
On Saturday, July 29, Angelina spoke to The Huffington Post to clear up any misunderstandings about her film's casting and claimed the Vanity Fair article took her quotes out of context. "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 began.
"Parents, guardians, partner NGOs whose job it is to care for children, and medical doctors were always on hand every day, to ensure everyone had all they needed," Angelina said. "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," she said. First They Killed My Father is set to be released on Netflix later this year.