Angelina Jolie is fighting back following an in-depth interview with Vanity Fair. The actor, humanitarian, and director has kept a low profile over the past year, since filing for divorce from her husband Brad Pitt, but now she’s back in the spotlight for a surprising reason.
The mother of six has kept her focus squarely on her children since filing for divorce from Pitt in September 2016, but in her new interview with Vanity Fair, Jolie opened up for one of the first times post-split, and is likely regretting the decision.
Surprisingly, it’s not Jolie’s comments about her ex that have caused a stir. The Oscar-winning actor keeps her comments short and neutral when discussing her current relationship with Pitt. “We care for each other and care about our family, and we are both working towards the same goal,” Jolie tells the mag.
Instead, it’s Jolie’s comments about the audition process for her new film First They Killed My Father that have the usually private celeb issuing a very public statement.
In the new Vanity Fair interview, Jolie appears to be describing an audition process that involves shaming young children. Based on the autobiography of Jolie’s close friend Loung Ung, and the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the audition process to find a young actor to play Ung involved local children having ‘money’ placed in front of them, only to be snatched away.
“To cast the children in the film, Jolie looked at orphanages, circuses, and slum schools, specifically seeking children who had experienced 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 director would pretend to catch the child, and the child would have to come up with a lie,” reads the Vanity Fair article.
“Srey Moch [the girl ultimately chosen for the part] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,” Jolie says to Vanity Fair. “When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back.” Jolie then tears up. “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.”
In a statement to Huffington Post, Jolie says that story was taken out of context and was actually based on preparing for a scene in the film, with inspiration taken from Ung’s experience of being caught stealing by the Khmer Rouge.
In her statement to HuffPo, Jolie says “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 every day, 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.”
Jolie’s extensive measures to ensure the film is an accurate and authentic representation of the war in Cambodia are outlined in the Vanity Fair article, with Ung heavily involved in the film and Cambodian director Rithy Panh working as producer. In addition to Jolie’s statement, Panh also released a statement to Huffington Post.
“Ahead of the screen tests, the casting crew showed the children the camera and the sound recording material. It explained to them that they were going to be asked to act out a part: to pretend to steal petty cash or a piece of food left unattended and then get caught in the act. It relates to a real episode from the life of Loung Ung, and a scene in the movie, when she and her siblings were caught by the Khmer Rouge and accused of stealing,” writes Panh.
“The purpose of the audition was to improvise with the children and explore how a child feels when caught doing something he or she is not supposed to be doing. We wanted to see how they would improvise when their character is found ‘stealing’ and how they would justify their action. The children were not tricked or entrapped, as some have suggested. They understood very well that this was acting, and make believe. What made Srey Moch, who was chosen for the lead role of Loung Ung, so special was that she said that she would want the money not for herself, but for her grandfather.”
We suspect we won’t get another in-depth interview for a while.
Jolie’s First They Killed My Father was released in February 2017.